Malaysia needs more women in policy and decision-making positions
SHAH ALAM - Women are under-represented in policy and decision-making positions in Malaysia.
Anthropologist and Gender Studies lecturer Dr Vilashini Somiah said this was due to the fact that some people were not afforded the same sort of resources, opportunities and they were not empowered in the way they should be.
"Think about indigenous women living in one of the poorest districts in the country like Pitas in North Sabah or in Lawas or also what about the disabled Indian women in the estates.
"If you are not looking at these and you don't have representation, then often times when we talk about women issues for the country, they continue to be a big picture issue," she said.
These issues, she said were often nuanced because of the lack of women in policy or decision-making positions who could bring their experiences from different avenues of the country.
The matter, she said was an important point to think about.
"If you go in and you're data blind, you're not going to be able to make the best policies in the long run," she added.
Vilashini was speaking as a panelist on Sinar Daily's talk show Wacana English Edition entitled “Women: Not Born To Be Leaders?”, today.
Asked if Malaysia was ready for a female Prime Minister, she said she was of the view that it will happen eventually.
This, she said was because young Malaysians were now certainly more vocal and think in different ways.
However, she said it might not be possible right now due to the number of female representation in politics at the moment.
"It is not possible now (for a female Prime Minister), simply because if you look at the mass, we don't have enough numbers, we need to have more.
"I hope to see it (happens) in the time when I'm still alive and walking on this earth," she said.
She also pointed out that the female political candidates brought in might be part of legacies who were linked to strong male figures with a dominant narrative.
"When we are able to see more candidates who are not part of these legacies and are able to stand their grounds and say "I did it for myself on my own with the support I have gotten, and the attention of the people" then I think we are at a point where it is possible," she said.
On Wednesday a Politically Frank clip of Datuk Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid had gone viral sparking anger and confusion when she said “women are not born to be a leader [sic]”.
It had garnered responses not only from female users but also the opposite gender including comedians Dr Jason Leong and Harith Iskander.
Amidst the massive backlash, Nurul had responded the next day with a Quranic verse and clarified that she only meant it for top leadership positions such as the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Menteri Besar and others in the same rank.
She said parliamentarians, state assemblymen or even a company owner were a non-issue for women.
The 44-year old is also the daughter of Umno president and former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
She has contested for various party positions in the past but lost.