PETALING JAYA: Women leaders from Bersatu, DAP, and PKR have urged the government to implement affirmative action policies to bring more women into political positions.
Wanita Bersatu secretary Nolee Ashilin Radzi said it was time Putrajaya enacted a law to realise the target of 30% representation of women in politics.
Umno, PKR and DAP failed to fulfil their pledge to field at least 30% of women candidates in the general election last November.
Women made up some 25% of DAP’s candidates, 17% of PKR’s candidates and 7.2% of Bersatu’s candidates.
Nolee said Indonesia had a law to ensure adequate representation of women.
“Every party in Indonesia is to have at least 30% women representation in politics,” she told FMT.
Nolee said that the likes of Hannah Yeoh (DAP) and Azalina Othman Said (Umno) were proof that women were just as competent as their male counterparts and therefore should be given more opportunities.
At mercy of party leaders
Wanita PKR vice-chief Sangetha Jayakumar said affirmative action policies will rid the “old men’s club” culture in local politics and create a level playing field for women in the arena.
Women were currently at the mercy of a party’s leadership, she said.
“If you have a leader who believes in equal opportunity for women, you will get seats. If you don’t (have such a leader), women are stuck.
“We cannot allow it to remain. Our (political careers) should not be left hanging. We need it to be more stable.”
She also said that a study by Westminster Foundation for Democracy, a UK-based body that supports democratic practices, found that political parties remain the biggest gatekeepers preventing women from accessing political leadership positions.
Sangetha said the government should be firm in enforcing such policies, should Putrajaya decide to implement it.
“Studies show that even if such affirmative actions are not followed 100%, it’s akin to not having any at all.”
Selangor legislator Jamaliah Jamaluddin of DAP said political parties should also take steps to promote gender equality and diversity within themselves.
“This includes awareness campaigns to promote women’s leadership and effective political participation, providing support and training, implementing policies that encourage gender balance, and capturing talents,” said Jamaliah, who is the assembly member for Bandar Utama.
“Walk the talk”, parties told
Lim Yi Wei, a Selangor assembly member from DAP, said the coming six states elections would be a good opportunity for political parties that have pledged to field 30% of women candidates to “walk the talk”.
“Assembly members are closer to the ground compared to MPs, so women candidates have a chance to showcase their ability to be empathetic and caring towards constituents,” said Lim, who is the assemblyman for Kampung Tunku.
Lim added that parties can use this opportunity for “talent spotting” because candidates who have shown potential under stress can be considered for positions in town councils or village committees.