Dayak women urged to stand out and claim their space

Doris delivers her speech during the talk.

KUCHING, Nov 6: Dayak women should not hold themselves back from working diligently, claiming what is theirs, and deciding their own destiny, says Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Women’s wing chief Dato’ Sri Doris Sophia Brodie.

For women to breakthrough to become frontrunners in whatever role they take up be it at home, in the workplace or in politics, Doris opined that there were three things which should be kept in mind.

The first was that it must be accepted that women have equal rights and deserve development and to participate deservingly in advancing the country, and to be treated with respect and dignity.

“In fact and as I see it, for us women to be still recognised and accorded positions based on quota system is a crying shame in this era. Why? We all know for a fact that there is abundance of women out there that merit recognitions and positions including at decision making levels whether in the workplace, social and welfare organisations e.g. NGOs, political parties and etc., based on our academic qualifications, capability, caliber, experience etc.

“Our only biggest hindrance is the lack of opportunity which is mostly due to male dominancy and chauvinistic mentality. But, this cannot be allowed to prolong; it can cripple our nation.”

Highlighting the potential loss for the nation, she cited national statistics which had shown for a number of years that 64 to 66 per cent of students in colleges and universities are women, but many of them seem to have disappeared after graduation and women have yet to even reach 30 per cent representation across all sectors in the country.

Doris made these remarks when officiated at the talk by Dr Anna Sulan Masing. The talk titled ‘Rural Women Making a Breakthrough; Leaders and Torchbearers’ was organised by the Education Bureau of PRS Women’s Wing at a hotel here.

Doris (eighth left) reads through the points written by participants at the talk.

For her second point, Doris quoted Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg who had said recently during the launching of Development Bank of Sarawak that ‘Sarawakians must decide their own destiny.’ This statement, she said, had captivated her.

“Taking the cue from his words, I want to relate those same words and thinking to us women, especially rural women, where we must decide our own destiny. We cannot rest on our laurels anymore and let others decide our destiny for us, because it doesn’t work that way anymore. This is a competitive world that we are living in now, therefore, we women must stand up and be counted. When we women stand up together, we will be visible because our numbers are large.”

For her third point, Doris against quoted Abang Johari who had said: “It is no longer business as usual for Sarawakians because hence forth it is business unusual for us’.

She said she found this statement ‘very, very true’ as Sarawak needed to double its efforts to catch up with development and to progress.

“We need to (quicken the) pace up and not be complacent. We need to work not just hard but smart too. We need to use and apply all the resources and technology readily available.”

She added women must adopt the same approach and thinking, especially those from the rural areas, urging those present to pull up their socks, buckle up and be focused on moving forward.

“We need to unleash our potential and capabilities without compromising our moral and religious values so that we can be equally competitive if not better in our representation. It is no longer business as usual but business unusual for all of us women too, if we want to make a breakthrough.

“Last but not least, remember we women must support each other regardless of our background, religion, race or political divides because only women understand women better.”

More than 100 Dayak women representing different professions, including professionals and students from various local universities and colleges attended the talk.

Dr Anna Sulan Masing

The speaker Dr Anna is a writer, poet and creative consultant with a career spanning the arts, corporate and hospitality sector. She grew up in Malaysia and New Zealand, and is now based in the UK. She graduated fro the London Metropolitan University and received her doctorate in 2014.

Her works look into how identity changes when influenced by space and location, underpinned by various theories such as post-colonial feminist theory and performance theory. She had also studied how Iban women tell stories through ngajat, pantun and weaving and examined how the power of stories affect individual and community identities. — DayakDaily