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2023 International Women’s Day: #EmbraceEquity

“Together we can forge women’s equality. 

Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity

– International Women’s Day 2023

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023,  #EmbraceEquity, puts forth the aspiration of the world to embrace diversity and pushes for equality and a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. This is in line with EAP’s wish for a world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive and a world where difference is valued and celebrated. In conjunction with International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate all women for the EAP team for their selfless contribution that continuously makes a difference in the lives of our kiddos.

On this special day, we would like to feature two incredible role models of EAP, Senior Supervisor and BCBA, Rachel Gomez as well as Senior Therapist, Ng Shir Ley.

Rachel Gomez

1. Tell us a little about yourself 

Hello! My name is Rachel. I come from a town up north called Taiping and am a mother of a little cheeky 4 month old boy. I joined EAP back in 2011 which means this year is my 12th year at EAP! 

2. As a Senior Supervisor in EAP Malaysia, what does your role entail? How did it change over the years? 

As a Senior Supervisor, my role involves supervising a few supervisors, in coaching and training them. I monitor the children under their supervision, ensuring that the children are progressing and that we’re maximizing their potential. I also monitor the team under their care, ensuring their growth and advancement in EAP. 

Over the years, I also have overseen a number of departments within EAP including Intake, Schedule and Assessments. Since last year, I have started getting a little bit more involved in The Hope Project which aims to reach out to those who cannot afford therapy; something that is close to my heart. 

3. What inspired you to work with children with autism? What kept you going? 

I’ve always wanted to help others as a career. I came to EAP in 2011 as a part-timer at first just to get some hands-on experience while I was completing my degree. However, once I started working with the children and saw that the ABA programme really helped these children gain skills and also improve not only their quality of life but their family’s as well, it became a passion of mine to help these children. Along the way, I decided to take up a Masters degree which allows me to contribute to the autism community even more. Last year, I completed my Board Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA) certification too! What keeps me going is the need for an increased acceptance and awareness of autism in Malaysia as well as the joy working with these children brings and also the hope it brings to their families. 

4. Who are the women you look up to in life? 

I am blessed with many strong women role models in my life. One would definitely be my own mother, whom I admire for her inner strength and the joy she has in giving of herself to others. I also admire many of the superwomen in EAP who are gritty and resilient yet graceful. These ladies make choices and sacrifices daily to give their 110% both professionally and personally. They inspire me to choose the hard rights over the easy wrongs and to continually seek to better myself. 

5. What does International Women’s Day and its theme #EmbraceEquity mean to you? 

I love the theme as I believe that everyone should be given opportunities to reach equal outcomes. As someone working with children with autism, I do see the need for equity which unfortunately may yet to be especially in terms of education and vocational services and accommodations available to allow for these individuals to have access to live as normal of a life as possible. 

6. What are the changes you would like to see in the future that would #EmbraceEquity 

I do hope that there will be more efforts or initiatives put in place to bring about systemic and structural changes that will allow for equity amongst all. And of course, to see this being translated especially for the autism community. 

7. What advice would you offer to women intending to pursue this field?

Have a strong WHY (purpose) and find ways to fuel it and be reminded of it throughout your journey as this field requires the giving of ourselves. It will be filled with many ups and downs (just like any other journeys) but is one that is very fulfilling for sure! 

Ng Shir Ley

1. Tell us a little about yourself 

Hello, I am Shir Ley, and am currently a senior therapist in EAP Malaysia. I graduated with a Bachelor in Engineering and started my career as a product marketer. After a few years, I discovered my love and interest in children development and decided to make a career switch to work with kids. I have then completed a course in Montessori Education, worked as a Montessori lead teacher for 3 years before pursuing my Diploma in Special Needs Education. It has been a long journey in finding my passion but I am glad about the decisions I have made.

2.    As a Senior Therapist in EAP Malaysia, what does your role entail? How did it change over the years?

At EAP, our career progression is very well planned, we have termly reviews with our supervisors. Our responsibilities and job expectations are clearly informed and reviewed. When I first joined, I had gone through a series of training and received regular overlaps as well as catch ups with my supervisor and seniors to support my development. As a Senior Therapist, I assist new therapists as they transition into the role, do overlaps and be their buddy to guide them through their learning, apart from running the daily therapy sessions. I am also in the core team, leading the sub teams and occasionally join in discussion with the company’s leaders to brainstorm ideas to improve our operations and services. I also take part in The Hope Project by assisting in the campaigns to raise awareness about the autism community.

3.    What inspired you to work with children with autism? What kept you going?

When I first started working with kids, I did not choose to work specifically with children with autism. I was open to working with kids with any special needs and I was lucky enough to have come across EAP and ABA. To start off with, I guess it’s my interest in helping others and wanting to be a part to contribute to the society that got me into this industry. Coming from a Science background, I loved studying how children learn and grow. When I got to know more about ABA, I was so intrigued because it is the science on human behaviours. I am so blessed that I got the chance to be trained to be an ABA practitioner at EAP. Having the right people to lead and a supportive team to work and grow along with certainly have given me more strength and belief in pursuing this field. It has been about 3 years now since I’ve  joined the team, I have got to say that this journey so far has been a very fulfilling one. Seeing how we are helping the kids and their family to lead a more meaningful lifestyle, and assisting them to achieve their small and big milestones, gives me all the motivation to want to do more. Our kiddos have also inspired me so much, I’ve learned from them to be more appreciative and find joy in the simplest things in our everyday life.

4.    Who are the women you look up to in life?

My mum! She’s truly an icon of strength and resiliency. My mum has always taught me the importance of staying independent and never to put oneself in a position to have to rely on others as a woman. Being a mother of four, she also holds a full time job and takes care of the family, without a helper. My dad certainly supports but, we are a typical family of which mum takes care of most of the house chores. And not to mention, my mum cooks our meals daily as she insists on providing healthier meals to the family. 

I have always admired how much energy she has in juggling all her responsibilities. After so many years, I have learnt that it’s her determination in staying competitive and self-reliant, as well as her love towards the family that pushes her to be so strong. She has always been a role model to me in showing me the possibilities and strength one can achieve. 

5.    What does International Women’s Day and its theme #EmbraceEquity mean to you?

It’s a day to celebrate women! I think such a celebration serves as a reminder to everyone of the contribution women have brought to the world and the society throughout the years. It also creates more awareness and gives strength to all those who help to fight on the issues related to treatment and equality towards women. #EmbraceEquity is such a great theme. When we embrace equity, it means that we acknowledge and prioritize being equal, inclusive, and diverse! It goes beyond the women community, but to every single person of all different gender, nationality, and so on. I think embracing equity is the key to building a more peaceful, healthier, and prosperous world.

6.    What are the changes you would like to see in the future that would #EmbraceEquity

There are so many things that we can do better to embrace equity and I certainly cannot name them all. The theme calls for equity to all beyond women. I would like to see changes in the acceptance, awareness, and national care towards individuals with autism and the special needs community. I would like to see more  educational policies proposed to support individuals with autism and their families such as education and subsequently to play a role in society in which they can contribute and live meaningfully.

In some developed countries, families with special needs autism receive financial support for the care and education expenditures required, and I certainly hope that we could have this in our country! It would be a great financial help to the family which would allow them to receive earlier and better care.. There is just so much more that we can do as a society

Another improvement which I hope for is that every female and child in this world be given a chance to receive education from young. Women’s experiences vary widely depending on the location we are born in and I hope at the very least that education is available and accessible to everyone regardless of gender.

7. What advice would you offer to women intending to pursue this field?

Come for work observation to understand what we do! Give it a try if you are interested. It takes a lot of heart work to work with kids on the spectrum, but if you’re passionate and want to be a part to bring change to their lives, you will get the right support to grow here. The day-to-day job may be exhausting, but this job will inspire you to see the world and life in a different perspective.


International Women’s Day 2023: