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Case Study: We Cannot All Succeed When Half of Us Are Held Back

Author’s Note: BlackBerry completed its acquisition of Cylance on February 21, 2019. ACE Pacific Group has since become a BlackBerry partner and is currently selling the CylancePROTECT® and CylanceOPTICS® solutions under the newly rebranded names BlackBerry® Protect and BlackBerry® Optics. All references to the Cylance organization and its branded products and services in this blog utilize BlackBerry branding.

On July 12, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly celebrated Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday by inviting the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to speak publicly for the first time since the Taliban attack that left her and two schoolmates seriously wounded nine months before.[1] Accompanied by youth representatives from the organization’s 193 member states[2], Malala urged government and world leaders to provide free universal education for all children and ensure freedom and equality for women, stating, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”[3]

Universal access to quality education and gender equality comprise the fourth and fifth Sustainable Development Goals[4] (SDGs) adopted by the UN Member States in 2015. International agreements are important for social and economic development because they help establish legal frameworks for ensuring human rights. However, it’s often incremental improvements at the local level that make the most immediate and meaningful differences in people’s lives. It’s here that BlackBerry customer The Singapore Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS) has chosen to focus its programs and resources.

PPIS provides essential services for Singaporeans at 16 centers dispersed across the city. PPIS Family Services provides casework and counseling for clients contending with marital issues, family violence, and childcare and parenting concerns. Its Early Childhood Education Centers provide parents with quality infant care, kindergarten, and preschool education. PPIS Student Care Centers offer before- and after-school programs for children aged 7 to 14.

On April 3, 2020, a spike in new COVID-19 cases prompted Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to mandate a nationwide partial lockdown or “circuit breaker” that closed non-essential workplaces, transitioned schools to home-based learning, and restricted restaurants to take-out, drive-through, and food deliveries only.[5]

PPIS remained open throughout the circuit breaker and its aftermath. In June, PPIS began offering three months of free student care services[6] at two of its centers, enabling unemployed parents to search for jobs knowing their children would be safe and their homework supervised. PPIS social workers increased the frequency of their video calls to low-income families to assess the heightened risks to young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The nonprofit also launched a Women in Need (WIN) Fund that provides seed money for women who have lost their jobs to start home-based and/or online businesses.

“It’s essential for our teachers, counselors, and social workers to provide uninterrupted service to Singaporeans without sacrificing the privacy and confidentiality of our clients’ data,” says PPIS Information Technology Manager Thariq Aziz Abdul Hamid. “This begins with protecting our networks and Microsoft 365® applications from being compromised by a cyber attack. We rely on BlackBerry® Protect to prevent that from happening.”

Learn more about PPIS and its partnership with BlackBerry and BlackBerry partner ACE Pacific Group.

Malala Yousafzai: timeline of the Pakistani campaigner's life
[2] Malala Yousafzai urges world leaders at UN to promise safe, quality education for every child
[3] Malala Yousafzai: 16th Birthday Speech at the United Nations
[4] 17 Sustainable Development Goals
[5] Coronavirus: Most workplaces to close, schools will move to full home-based learning from next week, says PM Lee
[6] Free Student Care Services to Help Job Hunting Parents

Stephen Mak

About Stephen Mak

Vice President, Asia Pacific (Spark Division)

As a Vice President, Asia Pacific, Stephen is responsible for driving sales strategy and business development for BlackBerry’s Spark Division, leading business growth across Asia Pacific regions. Stephen oversees the development of strategic accounts and leads the team to deliver comprehensive cybersecurity solutions and services to customers.

Prior to BlackBerry in 2019, Stephen spent five years at Splunk in a variety of leadership roles, most recently as Head of Partners, APJ leading the company’s sales and channel management. He then joined Sage as a Country Manager, Greater China, and South Korea, focused on growing the business for Sage across North Asia regions by expanding their sales organization and partner eco-systems.

Stephen has spent over three decades in the IT industry and has 25 years’ experience in the Sales, Channel and Business Development in Asia with proven track records for both global tech companies and start-up.