Google Doodle celebrates Malay activist Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed (nicknamed Che Zahara Kaum Ibu), who worked towards modern rights for women and children and the first Muslim women’s welfare organization—the Malay Women’s Welfare Association (MWWA) in Singapore.
Who was Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed?
Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed was born in 1907 into a renowned family in Singapore. She was one of the first Malay women in Singapore to battle for modern women’s rights, as indicated by writer, Hajah Halizah Mohd Som. Che Zahara is the founder of the first Muslim women’s welfare organization in Singapore, the Malay Women’s Welfare Association (MWWA), in 1947.
Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed married a businessman Alal Mohamed Russull, an advocate of social welfare and justice, deeply engaged with social welfare. After World War II, she and her husband housed orphans and women deprived in their own home, which was situated on Desker Road in the middle of the red-light district.
Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed requested a $500,000 donation from the government in an appeal that prompted the foundation of the MWWA at her home in 1947. A firm believer in the value of education, her aim was to give a home to Malay women and children, which would incorporate facilities like a school and mosque.
Che Zahara established MWWA in October 1947 and used the group to focus on issues surrounding marriage change. Under her authority, the MWWA arranged the first public parade by women looking to celebrate the 1947 Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen of England. The women at last pulled out from the march, however not prior to inciting broad debate.
Che Zahara likewise supported the Laycock Marriage Bill which made a minimum age for marriage in Singapore. One more initiative that Che Zahara supported was to urge women to provide blood to help the Singapore Hospital meet demands for blood transfusions.
Known for her immovable assurance to help those in need, she acquired the nickname “Che Zahara Kaum Ibu,” which freely translates to “Che Zahara who protected women and children.”
After the Singapore Council of Women (SCW) was established in 1952, Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed had a more extensive network and more resources accessible to the MWWA.
In 1955, Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed represented Singapore at the World Congress of Mothers, in Switzerland. She likewise worked with the Singapore Council of Women (SCW) to assist with building up the Women’s Charter of Singapore, ordered by Parliament in 1961. Ultimately the MWWA dissolved and Che Zahara joined the SCW.
Throughout thirteen years between 1947 and the mid 1960s, Che Zahara took care of 300 women and orphans, paying little heed to their race or religion. She gave individuals a home, yet in addition showed them religious knowledge and basic economic skills, like sewing.
Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed passed on in 1962.
Che Zahara’s lifelong work was based upon the belief that education could engage individuals and lift them out of destitution. She educated many women and vagrants from all walks of life. In 1961, she helped pass the Women’s Charter of Singapore, a legislative landmark that keeps on ensuring the rights of Singaporean women and girls right up ’til today.
Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed was drafted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
On October 15, 2021, Google featured a Doodle on its homepage for celebrating Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed. In protest of prohibitive measures founded by the 1950 Marriage Bill, Che Zahara held an enormous rally on this day in 1950 that accomplished significant advancement for women’s rights across the country.