Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare
So her poor little doggie had none
– Old nursery rhyme
The Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI) notes that each time elections come around, whether it is parliamentary, state or by-elections, parties fielding candidates make many promises.
How about fulfilling promises already made?
In the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government aimed to have at least 30% women in decision-making positions. Did they fulfill it? No.
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) was ratified by the BN government in 1995. Using Cedaw is a good way to bring about gender equality, and to end gender discrimination in Malaysia. But has BN passed a law in Parliament to ensure that Cedaw applies in Malaysia? No.
To the BN government, shame on you for lying to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009 when you stated that the Domestic Violence Act 1994 (DVA) had been amended to include emotional, mental and psychological forms of domestic violence. Has the DVA been amended? No.
Of the three parties that make up Pakatan Rakyat (PR), only the DAP mentions gender equality in their manifestos. But even then, it is only to provide education on gender equality to eliminate discrimination.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leads the PR in forming the state government in Selangor. It can pass an enactment to incorporate Cedaw into law for Selangor under the Concurrent List of the Federal Constitution. Lead the way, Selangor.
With 10 by-elections after the 2008 general elections, neither BN nor PR has fielded women candidates. If BN and PR are serious about bringing more women in as leaders in politics, start by fielding a woman candidate in Sibu.
Honey Tan Lay Ean
Kudos to WCI for highlighting a side of politics that is normally ignored. There has been so much talk about race or class. But very little attention has been paid to gender issues.
That said, I think WCI was a bit too harsh on PKR. It has to be pointed out that PKR is the only party in PR to have a woman as its president in the form of Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah. I may be wrong, but I think it’s the only political party in Malaysia to have a woman as president. Note also that PKR’s “Pengarah Pilihan Raya Pusat” is also a woman, YB Fuziah Salleh. These are important positions within the party, and they are led by female leaders.
Yes, there is still a lack of female leaders on the national level. But at the party level, I think PKR has more female leaders than the other political parties. Again, I may be wrong on this.
More in-depth research should be done on the role of females in party and national politics in Malaysia. Perhaps, WCI might want to take the lead on this.
This is precisely why we need a CHANGE! It began 2 years ago and I hope it picks up momentum at Hulu Selangor with a resounding victory for PR! God Save Malaysia!