Gender equality advocate
Master of Commerce, Accounting and Finance
Sabrina Melisa Aripen is the founder and chairperson of Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All (SERATA), a nonprofit organization based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
SERATA works to dismantle long-held socially constructed gender roles and promote gender equality by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls.
Her career shift from commerce to gender equality advocacy began in 2010, when she organized a 'White Ribbon Day' to raise awareness on the prevalence of violence against women. During her event campaign, she rallied seven local men to join her advocacy by becoming White Ribbon Ambassadors and over the next four years immersed herself in a variety of organisations to help marginalised women and children.
The defining moment of Sabrina's career occurred during her time as a Community Solutions Program Fellow in San Francisco. She made a startling discovery on what could be the root cause of the gender gap in employment at her home country, Malaysia. While assisting her host organisation advocate for paid parental leave for all working people in the United States, she noticed that Malaysia only offered maternity leave under the Labour Law and is silent on the topic of paternity leave.
Ms Aripen identified this to be a strong indicator of gender stereotypes and a deep-seated cultural expectation that women are solely responsible for raising children. Observing this gap and doing her own research, led to Sabrina founding SERATA.
Sabrina's life work is now centred around changing the perceptions and expectations of parental care in Malaysia. In addition to her organisational work, she has written several articles championing the role of fathers in families, linking this to increasing the representation of women in the workforce and beyond.
In recognition of her work on gender equality, Sabrina was awarded the 2018 'Community Achievement Award' by the Malaysian Australian Alumni Council.