Stronger measures needed to address discrimination against women - Human rights body

Malaysia urged to close gap between gender equality laws and lived experiences

SHARIFAH SHAHIRAH
21 May 2024 03:43pm
Suhakam stressed that discrimination against women, whether through legislation, policy, psychocultural attitudes, or practices, has not yet been fully addressed in Malaysia. - Illustrated by Sinar Daily
Suhakam stressed that discrimination against women, whether through legislation, policy, psychocultural attitudes, or practices, has not yet been fully addressed in Malaysia. - Illustrated by Sinar Daily
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SHAH ALAM - Discrimination against women remains a significant issue in Malaysia, not yet fully addressed or reflected in various sectors.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Commissioner Professor Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal highlighted that discrimination against women, whether through legislation, policy, psychocultural attitudes, or practices, has not been fully addressed in Malaysia.

“The Federal Constitution provides for the rights and liberties of all persons, including gender equality and non-discrimination based on gender, as outlined under Article 8(2).

"However, Suhakam notes that the definition of discrimination against women, as provided under Article 1 of CEDAW, has yet to be fully reflected and manifested in Malaysia,” she said during the 2070th Meeting, 88th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on Monday.

Noor Aziah also stressed the urgent need to increase women's representation in Dewan Rakyat.

The latest data indicated that there were only 40 female parliamentarians, with 30 in the Dewan Rakyat and 10 in Dewan Negara.

To this, she proposed increasing the women's quota from 30 per cent to 50 per cent to enhance gender representation and promote gender equality in accordance with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

“With increased representation in Parliament, legislative policy and reform can be addressed from more diverse perspectives, promoting policies that are more gender-sensitive,” she added.

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She further expressed concern about discriminatory behaviour by some parliamentarians, stating that any remark that strips a person of their human dignity constitutes a clear violation.

Noor Aziah argued that parliamentary immunity does not grant licence for racist, sexist, or other offensive remarks within the House.

“As public figures occupying positions within administrative and political platforms, it is the responsibility of every member of parliament to demonstrate exemplary behaviour,” she added.

She further stated that male MPs who make such remarks should be held accountable under Order 36-4 of the Dewan Rakyat for their discriminatory and sexist actions.

Noor Aziah added that this accountability would set an example for other Malaysians and help raise awareness about the pervasive nature of discriminatory and sexist attitudes against women.

Background on CEDAW

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is a United Nations (UN) body overseeing the implementation of a treaty promoting women's rights.

This convention tackles various forms of discrimination, including violence, poverty, and unequal access to property and credit.