UNICEF pays tribute to Malaysian company for fighting AIDS stigma
by Indra Nadchatram
KUALA LUMPUR, 19 December 2006 – Malaysian homegrown fashion company, Eclipse recently received the UNICEF Malaysia 2006 “Advance Humanity Corporate Award” in recognition of it‘s recent fashion campaign to fight HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination in the country. UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Ms. Gaye Phillips presented the Award to Eclipse Managing Director and founder Mr. Sonny San during a United Nations Malaysia ceremony to mark Human Rights Day 2006.
During her presentation speech, Ms. Phillips thanked Eclipse for having the courage to challenge the stigma associated to HIV/AIDS by lending its name to the difficult issue.
Fighting stigma with fashion
"Eclipse has used positive trends in fashion to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and fight stigma and discrimination, reaching an audience of more than 1 million people in Malaysia."
“UNICEF Malaysia applauds Eclipse for their dedication, enthusiasm and creative efforts to spotlight the impact of HIV on children using the high visibility and reach of the fashion industry as their platform. Eclipse has used positive trends in fashion to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and fight stigma and discrimination, reaching an audience of more than 1 million people in Malaysia,” said Ms. Phillips who is also UNICEF’s Representative to Singapore and Brunei.
Malaysia has recorded almost 74,000 HIV cases since the first case was detected in 1986. New infections are doubling every three years in the country with an average of 17 people testing HIV-positive daily. Almost forty per cent of Malaysia’s HIV cases occur in young people below the age of 29. A lack of knowledge about HIV is one of the main reasons for the rapid spread of the epidemic and its related stigma and discrimination. Cultural sensitivities often prevent an open discussion on the subject. Silence, ignorance and complacency are the biggest obstacles in the fight to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In support of UNICEF’s efforts to address the impact of HIV/AIDS on children, Eclipse founder Mr. Sonny Son mobilised three of Malaysia’s iconic designers, Tom Abang Saufi, Khoon Hooi, and Gillian Hung, to put together a campaign to create awareness about UNICEF’s Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign and address the stigma associated with the disease. Titled “Designed for Eclipse, Designers unite for UNICEF”, the awareness and charity campaign was held in conjunction with Eclipse 10th year anniversary this year.
Championing causes for children
“Though the actual fund raising period is over, Eclipse believes that it is important to make continuing efforts to raise awareness and educate the public about the challenges facing children in Malaysia. With reports of violence against children, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse cases on the rise, it is extremely important to heighten awareness campaigns and Eclipse will continue to play its part to champion these causes for children” said Mr. Sonny San.
The Chairman of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Professor Jaap E. Doek, had earlier highlighted in his keynote address titled "The Convention on the Rights of the Child - Challenges Ahead", the critical importance of including all sectors of society, including businesses in efforts to promote the rights of children.
"One of the challenges in promoting children's rights is to create a culture of respect for children's rights. We need to educate parents, teachers, people working in children's institutions and the public at large on the culture of listening to children's views. Undoubtedly, the business sector also has a role to play in promoting children's rights amongst their employees, clients and customers," said Professor Jaap.
The UNICEF Malaysia “Advance Humanity” Corporate Award was created in 2005 to celebrate businesses in Malaysia for their social responsibility to children and young people. The annual rotational ten-year Award will be presented to businesses in recognition of their meaningful community partnerships and programs which are directly or indirectly addressing issues of priority to UNICEF Malaysia, namely HIV/AIDS, violence against children and disparity.
“The Award is our way of saying thank you to businesses that demonstrate leadership and innovation in advancing humanity for children and young people, by making positive impacts to the communities they operate in,” added Ms. Phillips.
NOTE TO EDITOR
Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS
Designed for eclipse, Designers unite for UNICEF
15 January 2007:
13 December 2006:
Unite against AIDS
• The Malaysian Launch