30 per cent women's participation in politics a priority, says women organisation

23 Oct 2022 10:19am
JAG. Photo from All Women’s Action Society (Awam) website
JAG. Photo from All Women’s Action Society (Awam) website

SHAH ALAM - With the coming of the 15th General Election (GE15), all political parties should remain committed to allowing at least 30 per cent of political involvement from women.

The coalition of 14 women’s right organisation Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) in a statement said that women, as much as men also deserve to have a presence in Malaysia’s political leadership not just because of their calibre but due to their extensive reach to the community.

In the statement, Malaysia only had 14 per cent of women holding parliamentary seats compared to 20 per cent of our Southeast Asian counterparts.

This made Malaysia one of the lowest to have women participate in Parliament in Southeast Asia due to restrictions from patriarchal sociocultural norms and political institutions.

“Women politician had to contend with other problems like public distrust of their capabilities, unrealistic expectation of having to balance both feminine and masculine traits as well as limited resources due to having lesser political influence.

“The inclusion of women in politics was instrumental, especially in bringing forward women's issues into the political agenda which could influence policies for the betterment of women,” the statement read.

For instance, women-friendly legislations like the Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 and the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill were all from the efforts of women policymakers like incumbent Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto and other women’s rights groups.

Allowing more women to be involved in politics will open more parliamentary debates on issues relating to women such as unequal citizenship rights, childcare centres, single mothers, criminalising stalking, maternity leave, as well as women’s position in the public and private sectors.

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“In the current political environment where patriarchal norms and sexism remain prevalent, achieving a critical mass of at least 30 per cent is a crucial step forward in precipitating substantive representation of women in policymaking,” the statement read.

It was also stated that research on the gender gap in electability during GE14, with the exception of Pas, women politicians performed better than their male counterparts at the federal level.

Since women made up half of the nation’s population, they felt it was only right that it was a necessity to include women's voices in politics for better development.

“Effort by political parties to fulfil the 30 per cent target is thus an important step towards creating a gender-equal political arena for our women and as an indicator of our willingness to uphold gender equality.”