Rita passed away on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23. She is survived by her partner, Marilen, her sons, Iska and Rizal, and her sister, Nina. “She was a wise, compassionate, and beautiful woman” says Marilen.
Rita co-founded ARROW (Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women) with Rashidah Abdullah in 1993, and was a co-director until her resignation in 1995. She went on to study traditional Chinese medicine at the New England School of Acupuncture in Massachusetts, and then became a New York-based licensed acupuncturist. Rita also worked as a reproductive health consultant with UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). Rita had been a staunch advocate for women’s health for the past 30 years, in both her professional and personal lives. She worked or was involved with the Asian-Pacific Development Centre, Boston Women’s Health Collective, World Health Organization, United Nations Development Fund for Women, International Fund for Agricultural Development, International Planned Parenthood Federation and Rutgers University’s Center for Global Women’s Leadership. She was the Malaysian coordinator for the seven-country research study of the International Research on Reproductive Rights and Action Group (IRRRAG) project. She also researched on violence against women, and her work helped to influence legislation on domestic violence in Malaysia, eventually creating the Domestic Violence Act of 1994. She was a director and past president of the Women’s Aid Organisation, Malaysia’s first refuge for battered women.
Rita continued her interest in complementary health systems and sociocultural dimensions of reproductive health through her consultancies and volunteer work, both in the United States and internationally.
Information adapted from the website: http://www.arrow.org.my