If the Pakatan Harapan government eventually meets its 30% target for women’s representation, it would be a fulfilment of a promise in its manifesto, writes Tota.
It was Mao Zedong who said that women hold up half the sky. That quote emphasises the important role women play in society.
In Malaysia, women are playing an increasingly important role in both the public and private sectors. The previous Barisan Nasional government for more than 60 years paid only lip service to gender equality. They took the women for a long ride with empty promises of 30% women’s participation in the public and private sectors. The women’s wings in Umno, the MCA and the MIC let down their members.
The BN leaders never questioned why Najib’s cabinet had only 12% women’s representation. One example will suffice to show how the women were exploited and manipulated. The problems faced by Muslim women are many: divorce, alimony, custodial rights, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, baby dumping, etc. But at the Umno general assembly in 2014, the then women’s chief Shahrizat Jalil misled and fooled the women into supporting the Sedition Act! Little else seemed to have mattered.
Now with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in place, a new commitment and vigour in promoting gender equality is evident. The PH manifesto clearly sets out a target of 30% women’s representation in both the public and private sectors.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet (about 20% women) still hasn’t reached that 30% target, even though women such as Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (Deputy Prime Minister and Women and Family Development Minister) and Zuraida Kamaruddin (Minister of Housing and Local Government) are already in it.
There is no shortage of intelligent, capable and talented women out there eg Ambiga Sreenevasan, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Maria Chin Abdullah.
If the Pakatan government eventually meets its 30% target, it would be a fulfilment of a promise in its manifesto. Women are half our future and we need to safeguard our future.
Tota, short for Theatre Of The Absurd, is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to our Thinking Allowed section.