Kementerian wanita mesti hentikan stereotaip berbahaya, fokus kepada isu wanita kritikal (Malay/English)

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[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Gabungan Tindakan Bersama untuk Kesaksamaan Gender (JAG) bersama-sama dengan organisasi masyarakat sivil yang bertandatangan di bawah ini ingin menyatakan rasa kekecewaan yang mendalam dan amat mengambil berat terhadap kesilapan serius yang dilakukan oleh Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat di bawah kerajaan Perikatan Nasional (PN). Menteri wanita dan timbalannya telah dilantik selepas pengambilalihan kerusi pentadbiran kabinet yang tidak dijangka oleh Perikatan Nasional.

Di tengah-tengah kekalutan yang semakin meningkat disebabkan oleh pandemik Covid-19 yang memberi kesan yang besar terhadap ekonomi, reaksi pertama timbalan menteri ialah untuk menyarankan tindakan mengawal pakaian seragam para pramugari.

Apabila perintah kawalan pergerakan diumumkan, talian sokongan kementerian, iaitu Talian Kasih segera ditutup, dan talian tersebut hanya dihidupkan semula selepas mendapat bantahan awam yang kuat.

Seterusnya, Jabatan Pembangunan Wanita mengeluarkan e-poster terkenalnya yang meminta wanita untuk memakai alat solek di rumah dan bercakap seperti Doraemon untuk menggembirakan suami mereka. Respon kemarahan awam yang dicetuskan oleh poster itu dapat difahami, justeru Malaysia telah menjadi bahan ketawa di seluruh dunia.

Respon kementerian terhadap tindak balas ini hanyalah sekadar permintaan maaf bersyarat kerana menyinggung “sensitiviti” sesetengah pihak. Ianya amat sedih sekali kerana ini telah menunjukkan kegagalan kementerian untuk memahami bagaimana stereotaip gender dalam masyarakat boleh merendahkan wanita.

Dalam situasi kritikal yang tidak pernah berlaku sebelum ini, di mana ramai wanita terutamanya yang berada dalam kalangan 40% bawahan dan kumpulan rentan yang lain sedang bergelut untuk terus hidup, namun kesilapan terhadap keutamaan yang dikehadapankan oleh KPWKM menunjukkan betapa kurangnya kepekaan kementerian terhadap realiti masyarakat di peringkat akar umbi.

Walaupun Perdana Menteri telah mengemukakan alasan bahawa menteri dan timbalan merupakan penjawat baru dalam tugas mereka, namun harapan tinggi orang awam terhadap mana-mana menteri dan timbalan yang dilantik adalah agar mereka bersungguhsungguh dalam melaksanakan tugas dan amanah yang dipikul.

Tambahan pula, kementerian tersebut merupakan sebuah kementerian yang ditugaskan untuk menjaga kepentingan wanita, yang mana mereka ini membentuk 50% populasi penduduk, dan tugas serta tanggungjawab mereka semua tidak boleh sama sekali dipandang enteng.

Selama lebih satu dekad, kumpulan masyarakat sivil – terutamanya organisasi wanita dan kanak-kanak – telah terlibat dengan KPWKM dalam menggerakkan agenda wanita untuk negara. Ini termasuklah inisiatif kritikal pembaharuan perundangan mengenai gangguan seksual, perbuatan mengendap dan mengintip (stalking), cuti paterniti, kesaksamaan gender, perkahwinan kanak-kanak dan bidang-bidang penting lain yang memberi kesan kepada wanita dan kanak-kanak. Semua agenda tersebut bertujuan demi menjaga kepentingan semua lapisan masyarakat secara umumnya.

Disebabkan oleh krisis semasa yang semakin berlarutan, banyak negara menyaksikan fenomena yang membimbangkan mengenai peningkatan dalam keganasan rumah tangga di peringkat global yang menimpa wanita dan kanak-kanak perempuan, seperti yang diperingatkan oleh setiausaha agung Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu.

Di Malaysia, masih belum ada pengumuman untuk membantu wanita dan kanak-kanak yang menjadi mangsa penderaan ataupun sebagai contoh, sebarang dasar untuk menyokong wanita miskin yang dijangka menjadi lebih terdedah pada masa-masa krisis seperti sekarang.

Kami ingin mengingatkan KPWKM bahawa Perkara 5, Konvensyen Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu mengenai Penghapusan Segala Bentuk Diskriminasi Terhadap Wanita (Cedaw), yang diratifikasi oleh Malaysia pada tahun 1995, menuntut agar kerajaan kita mengambil segala langkah yang sesuai untuk menghapuskan stereotaip peranan jantina antara wanita dan lelaki yang mendiskriminasi.

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Sekarang adalah masanya untuk KPWKM bertindak dan memberikan kepimpinan yang diperlukan oleh wanita, keluarga, dan masyarakat kita bagi menghadapi krisis semasa dan selepas krisis dengan berkesan. Hal ini termasuklah menilai dan menghargai kerja penjagaan tanpa gaji yang dilakukan oleh wanita, mengiktiraf kerentanan mereka terhadap keganasan berdasarkan gender, mengenalpasti kesulitan ekonomi yang dihadapi berikutan wabak pandemik, dan begitu banyak isu mendesak lain yang memerlukan masa, perhatian, dan penyelesaian praktikal kita.

Kami menyeru agar menteri pembangunan wanita, keluarga dan masyarakat untuk mengeluarkan permintaan maaf tanpa syarat atas kandungan e-poster JPW yang bukan sahaja menyinggung masyarakat, tetapi juga mempunyai implikasi yang meluas terhadap martabat dan kesejahteraan wanita dan memastikan agar semua komunikasi awam bagi pihak KPWKM tidak mengulangi kesilapan-kesilapan yang serupa.

Kami juga menyedari bahawa keadaan pandemik Covid-19 adalah amat sukar dan perintah kawalan pergerakan telah menjadikannya sukar bagi organisasiorganisasi masyarakat sivil untuk melibatkan diri secara bermakna dengan kementerian.

Oleh sebab itu, kami menggesa agar KPWKM memulakan komunikasi dan penglibatan sedemikian, terutamanya dengan organisasi wanita dan kanak-kanak secepat mungkin untuk sama-sama memikirkan secara konstruktif isu-isu pemberdayaan wanita, keluarga, dan komuniti sejajar dengan kewajipan kerajaan yang sedia ada untuk mengangkat hak asasi wanita dan kesaksamaan gender seperti yang termaktub dalam Cedaw, matlamat pembangunan lestari (SDGs) dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Disokong oleh organisasi anggota Gabungan Tindakan Bersama untuk Kesaksamaan Gender (JAG) seperti berikut:

1. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
2. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
3. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
4. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
5. All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
6. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
7. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
8. Justice for Sisters (JFS)
9. Tenaganita
10. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
11. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
12. Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS)
13. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
14. Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (Kryss)

Turut disokong oleh organisasi masyarakat sivil seperti berikut:

15. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
16. Bersih 2.0
17. G25 Malaysia
18. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
19. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
20. Engage
21. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Pusat Komas)
22. North South Initiative
23. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM)
24. National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC)
25. Voice of the Children
26. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
27. Freedom Film Network (FFN)
28. People Like Us Hang Out! (PLUHO)
29. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (Quassa)
30. Queer Lapis
31. Seksualiti Merdeka
32. L-Inc Foundation
33. Bentarakata
34. PLUsos (People Like Us Support Ourselves)
35. Reproductive Health Association of Kelantan (ReHAK)
36. Sustainable Development Network Malaysia (Susden Malaysia)
37. Local Unionist Networks Malaysia (LUN)
38. Global Shepherds
39. Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
40. Tanah Dahai
41. Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)
42. Ruang Kongsi
43. Desa Ria Residents Association, Sungai Ara, Penang

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English version

Women’s ministry must stop harmful stereotyping, focus on critical women’s issues

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) together with the other undersigned civil society organisations would like to express our deep disappointment, frustration and concern over the grave missteps of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development under the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

The women’s minister and her deputy were appointed following the unexpected takeover by PN. Amidst increasing alarm over the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the economy, the deputy minister’s first reaction was to police the attire of women flight attendants.

When the movement control order was announced, the ministry’s Talian Kasih support hotline was immediately shut down, only to be revived after a public outcry.

Subsequently, the Women’s Development Department (JPW) issued its infamous e-posters asking women to wear makeup at home and speak like Doraemon to please their husbands. The resulting huge outrage is understandable, and Malaysia has become a laughing stock worldwide.

The ministry’s response to the backlash was merely a conditional apology for offending the “sensitivities” of certain quarters, which sadly shows its total failure to understand how gender stereotyping in society can demean women.

In this unprecedented critical time where many women especially those in the bottom 40% and other vulnerable groups are struggling to survive, the ministry’s misplaced priorities reflect its complete lack of sensitivity to realities on the ground.

While the prime minister has proffered the excuse that the minister and deputy are new to the job, the public expectations of any minister and deputy appointed to office would be to hit the ground running, more so for a ministry tasked with overseeing the interests of women, who form 50% of the population, and whose duties and responsibilities cannot be understated.

For over a decade now, civil society groups, especially women’s and children’s organisations, have been engaging with the ministry to move forward the women’s agenda for the nation. This includes critical legislative reform initiatives on sexual harassment, stalking, paternity leave, gender equality, child marriage and other important areas affecting women and children, all in the interests of the population at large.

Given the current crisis, many countries are witnessing an alarming trend of a global spike in domestic violence directed at women and girls, as warned by the United Nations secretary-general.

In Malaysia, there is still no announcement to help abused women and children nor, for instance, any kind of policy to support poor women who are expected to be more vulnerable in times of crisis.

We wish to remind the ministry that Article 5 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), ratified by Malaysia in 1995, requires our government to take all appropriate measures to eliminate discriminatory stereotyping of sex roles between women and men.

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Now, more than ever, is the time for the ministry to step up and provide the necessary leadership which our women, families and communities need to get through this crisis and beyond. It includes valuing women’s unpaid care work, recognising their vulnerability to gender-based violence and economic hardship in the wake of the pandemic, and so many other pressing issues that deserve our time, attention and practical solutions.

We call on the women, family and community development minister to issue an unconditional apology over the content of JPW’s e-posters, which are not only offensive but also have far-reaching implications and consequences for women’s dignity and wellbeing, and to ensure that all the ministry’s public communications henceforth steer clear of such pitfalls.

We also recognise that the overwhelming circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order have made it difficult for civil society to engage meaningfully with the ministry.

We therefore urge the ministry to initiate such engagement, especially with women’s and children’s organisations, as soon as practicable to explore constructive ways forward for the empowerment of women, families and communities in line with the government’s existing obligations to promote women’s human rights and gender equality, as enshrined in Cedaw, the sustainable development goals and our Federal Constitution.

Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:

1. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
2. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
3. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
4. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
5. All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
6. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
7. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
8. Justice for Sisters (JFS)
9. Tenaganita
10. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
11. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
12. Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS)
13. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
14. Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Spaces (Kryss)

Endorsed also by the following civil society organisations:

15. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
16. Bersih 2.0
17. G25 Malaysia
18. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)
19. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
20. Engage
21. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Pusat Komas)
22. North South Initiative
23. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM)
24. National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC)
25. Voice of the Children 26. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
27. Freedom Film Network (FFN)
28. People Like Us Hang Out! (Pluho)
29. Queer Academics, Students and Supporters Alliance (Quassa)
30. Queer Lapis
31. Seksualiti Merdeka
32. L-Inc Foundation
33. Bentarakata
34. People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos)
35. Reproductive Health Association of Kelantan (ReHAK)
36. Sustainable Development Network Malaysia (Susden Malaysia)
37. Local Unionist Networks Malaysia (LUN)
38. Global Shepherds
39. Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
40. Tanah Dahai
41. Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES)
42. Ruang Kongsi
43. Desa Ria Residents Association, Sungai Ara, Penang

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nair
nair
16 Apr 2020 7.33am

Its very unfortunate during this critical period of pandemic we have so call self elected Ministers propose such ideas to promote. Everything gets back to ones Education & Knowledge level. Such a shame………