Women politicians need more opportunities to contribute

Political parties often choose representatives who are more likely to win seats that they contest in, says minister

pic by BERNAMA

THE Women, Family and Community Development Ministry is urging all political parties to provide more opportunities for women in the political landscape to contribute to the scene and empower their rights.

Deputy minister Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff said political parties often choose representatives who are more likely to win seats that they contest in and those who are able to face challenging environments.

“So, women need to be brave, especially the young leaders today. They should come forward and adapt to the political situation and the hardships that come with it.

“However, efforts to support women empowerment is not enough if it is only done by women themselves. It also requires support from men which is vital in creating gender equality in all aspects to ensure women are not left behind,” she said in the Parliament building during a press conference yesterday.

She also noted that women politicians tend to be more focused and diligent in doing their tasks.

In the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Siti Zailah said there is currently 33 women (15%) representation in the Dewan Rakyat out of the 220 seats in the august house, excluding two empty seats.

Meanwhile, in the Dewan Negara, there are eight women representatives out of 53 members, which also equates to 15%.

She also cited statistics from the Public Service Department (JPA) in 2020 which stated that there was 38.2% women representation at the decision-making level via filing in Premier Grade C and above while the private sector had 25.8% women representation as board members out of the top 100 listed companies.

“The ministry is of the view that it is every party’s responsibility to increase the representation of women in Parliament because it depends on the total number of seats allocated for women candidates as well as the victories obtained by them.

“We also need to provide an environment that supports women involvement which we can start by cultivating interests through training and education and eliminate all forms of discrimination that stop women from being involved in leadership and politics,” she said in a response to a query from Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip.

Gender sensitive programmes also play a significant role in highlighting the importance of women involvement as decision makers, said the deputy minister.

“These are among the systematic matters that require attention so we can eliminate the stereotype that limits women participation in certain sectors,” she said.

The ministry also welcomed any proposals or programmes that could enhance women empowerment in the country.

She said the ministry is also studying all areas including policies and laws that could lead to women discrimination.

When asked if the recent memorandum of understanding inked between the government and the Opposition will include measures to increase women participation in politics, Siti Zailah said the matter is still under planning.

“We are ready to hold discussions with any parties to ensure improvement in women’s position at the policy level,” she added.