KUCHING, Sept 17: Uniting women from different walks of life, ethnicities and cultures in Sarawak and defending their rights will be the primary task of Sarawak PKR Women.
Newly appointed Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Women’s chief for Kuching Cherishe Ng highlighted the renewed team will do its utmost to achieve an even greater peak of women movement and representation in the political field than ever before.
“The women’s wing is now focused on promoting, supporting and protecting policies which will help women achieve a more equal standing in society as men. Women needed to be given equal opportunities and a higher representation in all areas including land ownership, resource management, commercial marketing and trade.
“Wanita Keadilan Sarawak will now be at the forefront of championing women rights and interests in Sarawak. This includes reviewing laws which may violate the fundamental freedom of equality and creating policies which will reserve at least 30 per cent of positions in the state assembly or in decision-making positions in government and statutory bodies for women,” Ng asserted in a statement.
Ng, who is also Sarawak PKR Women secretary emphasised that it is important that Sarawakian women are able to participate in political activities and become even more active in political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGO’s).
She pointed out that women are now a force to be reckoned with and they should be given a chance, be it in Parliament, or in the state legislative assembly.
“Although Article 8 of the Federal Constitution prohibits discrimination on ground of gender, the truth is implementation of this Article has been scarce in Sarawak. I believe that only when women can occupy certain positions in the political arena or in decision-making bodies can they effectively protect and defend women rights.
“It cannot be denied that women today still face social problems such as domestic violence, incest, rape in marriage, and physical violence (especially for maids),” Ng said.
During the few months of Movement Control Order (MCO) from Covid-19 pandemic, the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) reported a spike in cases of physical and emotional abuse, from an average of 63 calls and messages prior to MCO, to 234 calls and messages during the third week of April 2020.
The spike in cases has highlighted that women in this day and age were still constantly facing physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
Such harassment does not only occur during the MCO at home, but also in workplaces and at public.
Ng insisted that in Malaysia, the people are still in need of greater women representation in order to safeguard and protect women rights.
She cited Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff as an example not to be followed, who exposed the identity of an underage child of a murder victim via her Instagram account, and the matter was also reported on the front page of a national daily on Aug 5, 2020.
“Siti Zailah also encourage child marriage policies so long as it does not clash with Islam, and highlight shariah-compliant flight attendant uniforms in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is not what a ministry should be doing,” Ng asserted, adding her disappointment over the silence from the ministry concerning cyber-bullying against Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin who was publicly attacked by Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Zahidi Zainal Abidin and Kudat MP Abdul Rahim Bakri.
As for the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN), Ng opined that women in Sarawak were under-represented as out of 82 DUN seats in Sarawak, there are less than 10 assemblywomen and even less who are under the age of 50.
“Although Wanita Keadilan Sarawak has a long way to go, we are guided by successful women leadership in PKR such as Nurul Izzah Anwar and Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Pakatan Harapan (PH) was doing very good in terms of women representation during its tenure as the federal government and even made history with having a female Deputy Prime Minister for the first time in Malaysian history.
“During the short months of the PH government, the Ministry of Women, Family and Social Development had successfully implemented a number of policies which were boosting women welfare. The Housewives Provident Fund Scheme (i-Suri) was at least a small step towards taking care of the rights and interests of housewives,” Ng added.
Similarly, she pointed out, there were also many reform plans in the midst of implementation and study such as gender equality laws, laws prohibiting child marriage, a national strategy plan in handling the causes of child marriage and others.
“It is a pity that such progressive plans were disrupted by the sudden political coup. With the PH government at the forefront, Malaysia could have banned child marriage in time but now, the Perikatan Nasional government is not even looking at this as a big issue.
“It is crucial especially in Sarawak where child marriage is among one of the highest according to Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) in 2018,” she opined.
Meanwhile, in conjunction with Malaysia Day, Ng hoped that both federal and state governments will continue to implement and study provisions which can better protect women and children rights in Malaysia and in Sarawak despite political differences. — DayakDaily