PRS Women’s Chief rejects notion of Dayak women parading in traditional costume as ‘demeaning’

Doris (front row, centre) with participants and organisers after the closing of two days’ workshop on 'Pengelandik Jari' (Dexterous Skills) organised by PRS Women Division Senadin Branch at Multipurpose Hall Kampung Pengakalan Lutong on May 12, 2024.

By DayakDaily Team

KUCHING, May 12: Women’s wing chief of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Dato Sri Doris Sophia Brodie, does not believe that Dayak maidens participating in parades wearing their traditional costumes is demeaning to Dayak women.

In a statement today, Doris remarked that it takes courage and confidence to step onto the stage and parade in such elegant costumes.


She elaborated that showcasing traditional costumes, much like preserving our language and dialect, is a means of introducing the world to the cultural heritage of the Dayak people.

“Therefore, do not be dampened by the view of some people because everyone is entitled to their views. Be proud of who we are; our race, culture and traditions.

“We are unique,” she said during her address after officiating the two-day workshop on ‘Pengelandik Jari’ (Dexterous Skills) organised by PRS Women Division Senadin Branch at the Multipurpose Hall Kampung Pengakalan Lutong today.

Doris’ comments were made in response to Professor Jayum Jawan’s recent statement labelling the Kumang beauty pageants, held annually as part of the Gawai celebrations, as ‘demeaning’ to Dayak women.

“Professor Jayum is entitled to his view. While it is true that the ‘Pekit Kumang Gawai’ was originally never part of the harvest festival which is the celebration to mark the end of the padi (rice) harvesting season and also a time of togetherness, a mark of gratitude for god and nature for the productive harvest, as well as prayer for a peaceful and prosperous future.

“However, it’s traditional for the Dayak women and maidens, especially the Ibans to dress in the traditional costumes (such as the) ‘ngepan’ during the proper ‘begawai’ festivities and especially so when preparing the ‘piring’,” said Doris.

She reminded organisers of the ‘Pekit Kumang’ or ‘Pekit Keling’ events to exercise greater care and thoroughness in scrutinising contest participants in the future.

“To all Dayak maidens out there; be confident, be proud of who you are, your roots, traditions, and culture. Tell your story, our story to the world through your grace, beauty, intelligence, skills, dialect or language, and traditional costumes,” she said.

Also present were organising Chairman and Women Chief PRS Senadin Cr Misiah Abdullah, manager of Centexs Betong Dr Andrew Emparan, PRS Permanent Chairman Jetli Jelian, Political Secretary to Premier Sarawak Rosaline Neging, PRS Senadin Division Chairman Rantai Achin, PRS Bukit Kota Division Chairman David Upe. –DayakDaily