PETALING JAYA: Prominent activist Marina Mahathir has slammed the appointment of two men including the prime minister to helm Putrajaya women’s empowerment council, saying it reflects a narrow “patriarchal belief” that only men can lead.
Speaking to FMT, Marina said it should be obvious to anyone that a council for women, if it sincerely wants to help them, should be led by them.
“Men appointing themselves as heads of a women’s council is another example of the sheer tone-deafness of male privilege. It underscores the patriarchal belief that only men can lead,” she said.
She was responding to the recent appointment of Najib Razak and advertising mogul Lim Kok Wing to chair national women’s empowerment council, Women’s Innovation Academy, better known as myWIN.
Marina’s comments came a day after Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto questioned Najib’s appointment, saying the post should instead be assigned to a suitable woman leader.
The DAP legislator said the federal government’s stated intention to increase the number of women in decision-making positions was badly reflected by the “power grab” in myWIN, which comes under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Marina said it was “absolutely shameful” that women unquestioningly accepted that the council should be led by not one, but two men.
“If they had any pride at all, these women should refuse to sit on this council or else risk being considered mere saps to the men,” she said.
“It is ironic that a council that aims to give women at least 30% of seats at the decision-making table can’t even find two women to head it.”
Marina also questioned the need to have yet another women’s council when Malaysia already had so many.
In 2013, Najib announced a policy to ensure that by 2016, at least 30% of decision-makers and board members would be women, including at government-links companies (GLCs).
Based on women, family and community development ministry data, Malaysian women only comprised 17.9% of the board of directors of Bursa Malaysia’s top 100 public listed companies as at June 30.