PETALING JAYA: The unity government is not doing enough to narrow the gender disparity and appeal to female voters, an analyst said.
Bridget Welsh, honorary research associate at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, acknowledged that the government has tackled a variety of women’s issues, such as sexual harassment, stalking protections, decriminalising suicide, slowing inflation and in its recent health white paper.
However, these are not the gender-specific issues usually associated with women’s rights or affirmative action, she said.
Heading into the upcoming state elections, the unity government has failed to properly communicate the impact of its policies on women, said Welsh.
She said the health white paper, for example, outlined the economic and health issues directly facing the family, which are among the issues that are closest to women.
“There is a missed opportunity from this government to make those links to women.
“It needs to show how women’s lives will improve because it has not been properly communicated or integrated into measures of performance,” Welsh told FMT.
She said the female vote is decisive in states like Kedah, Penang and Selangor because more women in these states have become breadwinners.
According to Welsh’s study, Pakatan Harapan (PH) only gained 38% of the female vote at the 15th general election. In comparison, Perikatan Nasional (24%) and Barisan Nasional (35%) combined to draw 59% of votes from the group.
Selangor DAP assemblyman Jamaliah Jamaluddin rejected Welsh claims, saying PH has a proven track record of championing women’s issues ever since it began governing the state in 2008.
She said over the years the PH state government has placed a lot of emphasis on women’s issues.
“If we compare Selangor with other states, we have many initiatives that assist women and this has been implemented for a long time because we transparently manage public funds,” said Jamaliah.
Meanwhile, Masjid Tanah MP Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said women are keener on issues of the economy and their family’s livelihood.
The Bersatu women’s deputy chief believes women are deeply involved in family matters through their daily activities and, therefore, are more impacted by such issues when compared to men.
“Women are more involved in daily life. They take care of the family, send the children to school (and) go to market to buy groceries. If (they) encounter broken roads on the way to school, it will have an impact, they notice that.
“When sending the children to school, they may see a wobbly chair or table, a necessity for the children,” said Mas Ermieyati.