The Malay Mail Online
July 15, 2014
July 15 — Apparently, some people feel that Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail may not be a suitable candidate for the Selangor menteri besar post because she suffers from “uzur syarie” (menses).
This statement from UMNO legal adviser Dato’ Hafarizam is another testament to show how UMNO has failed to promote women in politics. This is unsurprising when even the UMNO Wanita Chief belittled my candidacy during the Teluk Intan By-election.
It is precisely this sort of negative attitude by those in power that has constantly robbed women of opportunities to lead in this nation. Only a person with a caveman mentality can deny women the opportunity and right to hold a leadership position in government simply because she may not be able to perform certain ceremonial acts during “that time of the month,” even though she is perfectly capable of performing her governing and administrative obligations.
Obviously Dato’ Hafarizam has never heard of three-term Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, who is one of the most powerful leaders in Europe. Perhaps if he had watched the World Cup Final yesterday, he may have noticed Merkel in the audience, sitting next to the President of Argentina, Christina Fernandez de Kirshner. In case it is not obvious enough for Dato’ Hafarizam, they are both successful women leaders.
In the Muslim world, we had Benazir Bhutto who was the first Muslim woman to head a democratic government as Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988. Her achievement was followed by Begum Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991-1996 and again from 2001-2006.
If the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh had leaders with the same mental capacity of Dato’ Hafarizam, these remarkable women would never have been allowed to rise to their eminent positions.
Sadly in Malaysia, and in the year 2014, we still have leaders who think having menses is a handicap that disqualifies women from being a head of government.
The reality is that the state constitution of Selangor simply specifies that the Menteri Besar must be a Malay Muslim. Nothing is mentioned about the gender of the said Menteri Besar. As a lawyer, Dato’ Hafarizam should respect the letter of the law and not try to blame societal sensitivities and taboos.
I wish to ask whether Dato’ Hafarizam whether it is truly sensitive or taboo to have a woman as leader of a society, or is this simply the case in UMNO?
All over the world, females are given more and more leadership opportunities, and it is our job to educate our own people and prove that we too have remarkable women in our country. Hence, those in power should maximise the potential of women in this country and not belittle others and revealing their shallow sexism in the process.
Power to my sisters.
* Dyana Sofya is political secretary to YB Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader.