With the fate of the state at stake, Johor women speaks for better representation

04 Mar 2022 11:30am
Among the 37 female candidates is PH's Liow Cai Tung (second from left) contesting for the Johor Jaya state assembly seat. (Source: BERNAMA)
Among the 37 female candidates is PH's Liow Cai Tung (second from left) contesting for the Johor Jaya state assembly seat. (Source: BERNAMA)

JOHOR BAHRU - As some 2.5 million Johoreans are expected to vote come March 12, there is still a lack of focus on gender and women-centric issues, particularly in state politics and policymaking.

With fanfare given to the election where 10 political parties and 239 candidates are vying for 56 seats and control for the state government, the focus so far has been on economic issues such are reopening borders between Malaysia and Singapore and chest-thumping between political personas on who is the most “principled” among them all.

However, out of 239 candidates, only 37 of them are women, barely 15 per cent out of the total candidate pool.

These glaring statistics of the lack of female representation in the election, more so in the state assembly, depending on whether these female candidates could win their seat, leads to a much important question to many women whether their concerns and rights could be properly addressed.

For working Adriana Rozaimi, 39, who works in the service sector, said women are less keen to enter politics as many do not see any advantage or simply is the benefit of doing so.

“It's 2022, yet women are still seen to be more suited in the kitchen or just taking care of the kids. It's a boring and sexist assessment but rather than blaming the other side for it, don't worry they are at fault too, but women must realise this problem as well.

“Not many women are willing to take risks and join politics. It is back-breaking work, you spend most time away from your family and you can say goodbye to the career that you might hope for and even be ridiculed even for the way you dress.

“There is no upside at all but if no one takes the risk and presents themselves forward, then we would have no choice but to refer to male elected representatives who may or may not understand the challenges a modern woman face.

Related Articles:

“So we need to educate women on that. They need to be brave and take risks. Only then can we break this awful cycle of ridiculous biases,’’ said Adriana, who holds a management position in a local company here in Muar.

For a local eatery owner, who only wished to be known as Elyse, 48, said the gainful employment and fair opportunity for female entrepreneurs should be among the main issues championed by female candidates or politicians in the states.

She explained that these issues have been a constant concern as many youths are escaping the state to look for better opportunities elsewhere.

“There is a huge issue of underemployment in the state. While this is a huge issue for the youth in the state in general, females are disproportionately left out of being given the right opportunities despite many of them having degrees or diplomas.

“Right now, many are leaving the state to overseas or the Klang valley to start up their career or seek new opportunities or high paying jobs. What is left here are mostly low-skilled jobs in the service and manufacturing sector.

“Many young women who graduated, who feel are unable to seek better employment here or have fewer funds to seek work out of the state are left with no choice but to work in low skilled jobs here.

“The state needs to look at creating better opportunities for the youth but also targetted initiatives for female entrepreneurs or graduates who they know can be a great asset to the state,’’ she said.

Elyse, a single mother of two, handles a local cafe in Batu Pahat for the past 6 years. She said she was only able to do so after working in the service industry for over 13 years and taking a substantial loan from a local bank.

Having worked in the service industry before, she said many are simply living from paycheck to paycheck while having dealt with long hours and back-breaking work for little pay.

“Blue-collar female workers are among the toughest group of people I know. Some are divorced, single mothers or simply saving up and surviving. Of course, this is normal everywhere but for me, this group of people needs good representation in the state assembly.

“Often their voice is drowned out by issues that don’t affect them. Issue such as affordable kindergarten or daycare, perhaps subsidies for single mothers to purchase baby formulas and diapers or even grants for female entrepreneurs.

“These are important issues that need to be addressed but rarely anyone talks about them,’’ she said.

For fresh graduate Nur Anisa Osman, 20, who would be casting her vote for the first time in her life, said she is excited to be a part of the democratic process.

Nur Anisa said she and many others of her age want to contribute or find a purpose worthy of their time.

“I'm excited to see Muda in action because many of my friends have expressed interest in joining the party or helping in the campaign effort.

“They seem keener in giving better opportunities to women to rise the ranks in the party and have much more fresh ideas compared to other established parties.

“I think both young men and women have great ideas and they are desperately looking for an organisation to allow them to at least try these activities out.

“Even going beyond politics, if any organisation or employers who are willing to give these opportunities to the youth, including women, then we would stand behind these organisations. At the end of the day, young people wants to contribute and political parties should give more opportunities for youths to serve,’’ she said.