Archive for category women

Including both genders at work is paramount for a high income nation

— Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Malay Mail Online
December 18, 2014

DECEMBER 18 — Contrary to Isma’s beliefs, Malaysia will never achieve a high-income nation or even a developed nation status, if gender stereotypes continue to perpetuate our society, especially in matters that concerns the economy and honoring basic human rights. Their idea of solely depending on men as breadwinners and reducing women to child rearing duties is defective and discriminating to all Malaysians – regardless of gender.

The statement made by Dr Nur Farrah Nadia Najib, who heads the group’s family and society bureau, “A high income nation must not rely on women as the major contributor but rather men should lead the workforce and put their biggest effort in shaping the nation” is flawed as it demoralises the struggles Malaysian women work so hard to overcome.

Climbing the corporate ladder and pushing for equal pay has always been important issues for women’s rights advocacy and it is a continuous work in progress which needs support from the all levels of our society. There is no denying that education plays a crucial role in setting the template of success and attainment but even though, the number of women enrolled in tertiary institutions is currently higher than men, the opportunities for women to progress in the local workforce are different. To some extent, these opportunities may not even exist at all.

However, encouraging women to participate in the workforce is not enough. There must be pro-active measures by the government to guarantee that half of this country’s populations’ skills and talents are fully utilised in order to spur positive economic growth. Having more women at work can only be advantageous to our country, as differing perspectives supports diversity and innovation which are key dynamics needed to compete in an increasingly competitive globalised economy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Of prostitutes, peace and chivalry

Dyana Sofya
Mail Mail Online
OCTOBER 20, 2014

Dyana Sofya suffers from dysania and is using her superpowers to pen down her thoughts late into the night. Political Secretary to Lim Kit Siang by day and she tweets from @dyanasmd.

OCTOBER 20 — It is an interesting exercise to browse through the many comments on my Facebook fan page. Reading through them recently, I began to notice a pattern. Generally, there are three types of comments: positive, negative and commiserative.

The positive comments mostly take the form of motivating words of encouragement. These are my favourite, and I am eternally grateful for the constant show of support from Malaysians of all walks of life. They have never failed to fuel me with positive energy or pick me up when I feel down.

As for the negative comments, they are as colourful as one would expect them to be. From the usual name-calling, gender stereotyping to all kinds of discriminating attacks, I have learned to accept them as part and parcel of public life. In fact, I sometimes find it entertaining, as it takes a special breed of people to be able to be so shallow and perverse.

However, there is one more type of comment that has become a constant feature in almost every thread. I find these quite puzzling. Somehow, there seems to be quite a few people out there who find it necessary to convey their pity or sympathy because they feel I am being “used.” Often, they would also predict that I would one day “wake up” and realise that I am in the wrong struggle, and that I would eventually “return” to the true path. Read the rest of this entry »

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Second coming of the woman politician

Scott Ng | October 18, 2014
Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia has a new class of women leaders, and it’s time to take notice


Aung San Suu Kyi. Angela Merkel. Hillary Clinton. Margaret Thatcher. Dilma Rousseff. Gro Harlem Brundtland. Indira Gandhi. The last generation saw the beginning of the rise of women to prominent roles in government, sometimes to the pinnacle of their countries’ political structures.

But Asia has had the largest number of female chief executives in the world. Take Chandrika Kumaranatunga of Sri Lanka, for example. Her mother was the world’s first female Prime Minister, and she herself ascended to the role in 1994. Or Park Geun-Hye, who won South Korea’s latest presidential elections. Or former Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

Malaysia finds itself with approximately 10% women representation in Parliament, just a few notches above Myanmar’s miniscule 6%. This is below the global average, and is not representative of the fact that women compose half of the entire human race, let alone the Malaysian population.
However, on the opposition side of the floor, we’re starting to see equity between the sexes with almost 30% of Pakatan Rakyat’s members of Parliament being women. And what women they are.

In the past, the torch for Malaysia’s female politicians was carried by Rafidah Aziz, former Minister of International Trade and Industry. A common sentiment was that if Rafidah had been a man, she would have long ago been a candidate for the illustrious post of Prime Minister. To a lesser extent, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, was also a torch bearer for women politicians.

And then the political tsunami of 2008 happened and installed into power a new class of female politicians—young, driven by issues, passionate, intelligent, and most importantly, captivating. Nurul Izzah Anwar and Hannah Yeoh spearheaded this new movement, and they were joined a few years later by firecrackers like Dyana Sofya and Yeoh Bee Yin. These ladies have captured the imagination of the nation, speaking out strongly on the issues that matter not only to the youth, but the masses, powered by constant interactions with the communities they serve. Read the rest of this entry »

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Our political climate is rife with sexism

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Free Malaysia Today
October 4, 2014


Sexual jibes from close-minded individuals will not stop women from being heard in politics.

Interestingly, the media tends to work up a frenzy every time a Malay woman joins DAP. Most recently, Melati Rahim – a niqab donning activist, announced her membership and less than 24 hours later, the vicious attacks ensued with hell bent fervour.

Already she has been accused as being an apostate, a traitor and worse yet, a suggestion by an irresponsible blogger, that any woman joining DAP, for that matter, would be better off vacationing as prostitutes.

What warrants such extreme contempt and disapproval? Aren’t the scandal-tainted politicians who waste billions of public funds and attempt to destroy any notion of racial harmony in our country worse than all of us who join the opposition?

Being women, a minority in a male dominated setting, makes us easier targets for sexist remarks and revolting suggestions. We are often singled out and ridiculed for our political choices; as if we have committed terrible crimes against humanity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Umno Baru men fear women?

Mariam Mokhtar
August 4, 2014

The WikiLeaks ‘RM5 banknote gagging order’ has revealed that we cannot look to the West (read Australia) for an example of a nation which upholds democratic values, rule of law and a free press. Similarly, Malaysians cannot look to some men, principally Malay men in Umno Baru, as role models for equality, fairness and justice.

Last month, an Umno Baru constitutional law ‘expert’ said that PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail could not become menteri besar because her menstruation was an “obstacle which would prevent her from accompanying the sultan, at functions”.

A few decades ago, when working in the petroleum industry, some men tried to discourage women with comments such as, “How can you go offshore, or climb ladders? Your clothing is an ‘obstacle’.”

These men had not heard of overalls. In their opinion, high-flying women were either stenographers or shop assistants. Things have not progressed much, in Malaysia.

Perhaps, Umno Baru men are trapped in a time warp, in which women are subservient and docile. Do they hanker for the good old days when a woman was a maid at home, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom? We are not living in an Islamic caliphate nor are we living in the dark ages.

Umno Baru lawyer Mohd Hafarizam Harun, Umno Baru Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) lecturer Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz forget how they arrived in this world. For nine months, women carry a foetus, suffer weeks of morning sickness, have eating and sleeping problems, to climax in the pain of delivery. Read the rest of this entry »

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Umno’s caveman mentality

Dyana Sofya
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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gang-rape is okay, chocs are not

Mariam Mokhtar
Jun 2, 2014

The Muslim NGOs who were prepared to declare jihad, sue the manufacturers and burn down a factory, because their favourite chocolates were allegedly contaminated with pig DNA, deserve our contempt, not our compassion.

Where was their condemnation of the gang-rape of two teenage girls by some 30 men in Kelantan? Why did they keep silent about the abduction, attempted rape and subsequent beheading of a two-year-old girl?

In third world countries like Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, women are treated like replaceable items. Malaysia is no different. Some of our Muslim men treat their women like disposable razors: Once the edge has gone, their usefulness is over and they are discarded. Another will take its place.

Will the Muslim NGOs demand stern action to deal with violence against women? Are chocolates more important than women? Read the rest of this entry »

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LETTER: Smear campaign against Dyana Sofya exposes backward collective mindset

by Joshua Teh Honguan
May 29, 2014

THE response to the nomination of Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud for the vacant Teluk Intan parliamentary seat has shone an uncomfortable light upon our society and the way in which we view women.

The smear campaign, the cat calls, wolf whistles, labels of ‘pretty face’, ‘cheap candy’, and ‘puppet’ are symptomatic of the deep running sexism prevalent in Malaysian politics and society as a whole.

In objectifying women and refusing to perceive a woman as something more than a pretty face, we disregard her intellectual capability and personal worth. As long as we continue to judge women solely on their looks, we will never be able to embrace their true value.

The uncouth reaction towards Dyana Sofya coupled with an inability or refusal to see beyond her appearance does her a disservice as an individual and as a political candidate. Worse, it exposes a backward collective mindset that we should be ashamed of. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dyana not the only victim of sexism in politics, say women leaders

The Malaysian Insider
MAY 25, 2014

The smear campaign against DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud highlights the sexism endemic in Malaysian politics.

In Parliament, men outnumber women by almost 10 to one. A female representative, whether in Parliament or a state assembly, has to fight sexist perceptions of her marital status, looks and dress.

DAP vice-chairperson Teresa Kok said she once argued in Parliament for the rights of single mothers, only to be interrupted by an MP who reminded the Dewan Rakyat that she was unmarried.

“They said I was single, not qualified to make comments on the issue of single mothers. And being a single woman in the eyes of some Umno MPs is akin to being a second-class citizen. They run me down, treat my status as a joke,” the Seputeh MP told The Malaysian Insider. Read the rest of this entry »

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With DAP’s Dyana, Ambiga says happy to see more women in politics (VIDEO)

The Malay Mail Online
MAY 25, 2014

TELUK INTAN, May 25 — In a country where only one out of 10 MPs is female, activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan lauded Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud’s bold step forward into the murky political world dominated by men.

Ambiga, a former Malaysian Bar president turned activist, also decried the sexist attacks that the 26-year-old DAP aspirant has suffered in the Teluk Intan by-election campaign.

“As a woman, I’m happy to see more and more women coming up to fight the battle in the political arena,” Ambiga said at a DAP fundraising dinner here last night, attended by some 2,000 people.

“We are happy to see more women in Parliament,” added the former chief of election watchdog Bersih 2.0.

The 13th general election last year saw only 23 women being elected into the 222-seat Parliament.

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has 14 female federal lawmakers, while the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has nine, out of which the DAP has the most at four. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let’s do away with sexism and build a respectful nation

By Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar | TMI
MAY 21, 2014

The blatant act of disrespect on women and sexist messages by various groups to demean them during the Teluk Intan by-election campaign are unacceptable in a society which aims to become a developed nation.

The hoots and wolf whistles that drown out Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, the DAP’s Teluk Intan candidate, by the predominantly male crowd at the nomination centre a few days ago for the gift of her physical appearance, are very regrettable. Our society at large is still unable to recognise and respect women for their calibre, strength and capability, to become leaders just as men.

It is also shameful that certain parties tried to humiliate Dyana by spreading the photos of a bikini-clad actress resembling her on the internet, purportedly portray her as a “bad” Muslim.

No doubt Dyana Sofya is young and beautiful, but what stands out about her is her intelligence, professionalism, confidence, courage, determination and passion to fight what she believes is right, despite the odds and the storms that come her way.

In a nutshell, this young lady has all the essence of a good leader with integrity and commitment for the rakyat, but it is a pity that narrow minded men see her as a sex object. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Zahid derided the dream of having a woman Prime Minister in Malaysia, he trampled on this year’s International Women’s Day theme “Equality for Women is Progress for All”

Barely two weeks after Malaysia joined the world to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, the Najib administration through the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi trampled on this year’s International Women’s Day theme “Equality for Women is Progress for All”.

With such mentality by those who wield power in the Najib premiership, it is no wonder that Malaysia’s gender equality index ranks so lowly as compared even with neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia.

The 2013 Global Gender Gap Index published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Malaysia 102 out of 136 countries, with other Asean countries besting Malaysia save for Cambodia (104) and Myanmar, which was not listed.

In the 2013 Global Gender Gap Index, Philippines was placed 5th in the world above Singapore at 58, Thailand at 65, Laos at 60, Vietnam at 73 and Indonesia at 95.

The index measures gender equality across four areas of health, education, economics and politics, covering 90% of the world’s population. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jangan mengasari wanita

– Izmil Amri
February 7, 2014

NABI Muhammad S.A.W mendidik umatnya supaya menyantuni wanita. Antara hadis baginda yang termasyhur, mafhumnya; yang terbaik daripada kalangan kami adalah yang melakukan yang terbaik untuk wanitanya. Justeru Islam, sebagai agama keamanan dan mendidik akhlak, jelas sekali melarang lelaki daripada bertindak kasar terhadap wanita.

Lelaki yang mengasari wanita, bahkan yang mengancam untuk menggunakan kekasaran ke atas wanita adalah lelaki yang bacul. Ini semua orang tahu. Sesiapa pun yang mengasari perempuan pastinya akan dilihat seolah-olah syaitan bertopengkan manusia. Tidak kira apa alasan sekalipun, perempuan tidak wajar dikasari. Baik dengan tutur kata atau kerja buat serta perlakuan fizikal.

Tuhan mencipta perempuan supaya disantuni. Bukan untuk dikasari, diherdik atau dicaci maki. Tanpa perlu dipertimbangkan apa jua latar belakang keturunan, agama, pendidikan, perempuan tetap perempuan. Dia mungkin isteri seseorang atau adik, kakak dan ibu kepada seseorang.

Maka perempuan tidak boleh dikasari. Ini asas yang jelas nyata. Tidak ada lelaki yang waras akalnya suka melihat titis air mata wanita. Lelaki yang sentiasa dahaga dan giat memakan air mata wanita itu ialah lelaki yang dayus, pengecut dan punya kebarangkalian besar tidak mempunyai organ kejantanan yang mencukupi. Read the rest of this entry »

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BN’s femme fatale – the power of women

by Bridget Welsh
6:19PM Apr 27, 2013

GE13 SPECIAL Apart from civil servants, another decisive group in GE13 are women. They comprise 51.7 percent of the electorate and regularly turn out in high numbers, especially in semi and rural areas.

In close races, how women vote can make the difference. Numerically, women are largely in the urban areas, but disproportionately they are more influential politically in the more rural areas, as men are often outstation for employment.

Let’s take a look at how women can shape and have shaped the election so far, recognising that they will make an important impact this election and the trends are moving against the BN. Read the rest of this entry »

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34-Day Countdown to 13GE – Call on Malaysians to complete “unfinished business” of “308 political tsunami” five years ago by electing a new Malaysian Government and new Prime Minister in Putrajaya in 13GE

Today is a double anniversary – the fifth anniversary of the peaceful and democratic uprising of Malaysians which has now entered into the Malaysian political folklore as the “308 political tsunami” of the 12th general elections on March 8, 2008 and the 36th International Women’s Day after the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

Both have one theme in common – empowerment and enfranchisement of the Malaysian citizenry in the former and women as a whole internationally in the latter.

On the occasion of this “308” double anniversary, I wish to make two calls.

Firstly, to call on Malaysians to complete the “unfinished business” of 308 “political tsunami” five years ago by electing a new Malaysian Government and a new Prime Minister in Putrajaya in the 13th General Elections.

Before “308” five years ago, nobody dared to hope or think that the Malaysian political landscape could undergo a paradigm shift through the peaceful and democratic process that the prospect of a new Federal Government and a new Prime Minister for the first time in five decades of the nation’s history is dreamable, possible, do-able and achievable!

Two days before the historic “political tsunami” of March 8, 2008, I gave the following statement at a media conference when campaigning in the Ipoh Timor parliamentary constituency: Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib – a man trying to do a woman’s job

by Mariam Mokhtar
Oct 8, 2012

It is wrongly believed that when women speak, men only hear nagging.

The tragic prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is under intense pressure at home, should refrain from bringing his domestic problems into the workplace. For him to dismiss the need for a women’s rights movement in Malaysia is premature and daft.

Millions of women in Malaysia face violence, intimidation and other prejudices, in private, at work and in public. The instruments of the state and the Syariah Court have failed to deal with their problems.

The PM opined that “equality has been given from the start”for Malaysian women.

In the first instance, neither he nor his party gave women that equality. It was the British colonial administration which gave the women of Malaya schooling. Despite that, they still had to fight for jobs, demand equal pay and battle other forms of discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »

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PM must take women’s ministry portfolio seriously

The Malaysian Insider
Oct 02, 2012

OCT 2 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) is appalled and extremely disappointed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s callous dismissal of the need for women’s rights groups in Malaysia on the premise that equality was given “from the start”.

The prime minister is remiss to use women’s suffrage as a sole indicator for equality. Despite women having fought equally for independence and gaining the vote, Malaysia’s first female Minister, Tun Tan Sri Fatimah Hashim, was only appointed in 1969, a full 12 years after independence. Today, as in 1969, Malaysia only has one female minister in Cabinet, far short of the 30 per cent indication required by CEDAW.

While the right to vote is an important indicator of the state’s recognition of women’s rights, equality is also measured in other substantive ways.

If Malaysian women were on equal footing as their male counterparts, one telling sign would be a high ranking on the Global Gender Gap Index, which captures the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities in four key areas of basic rights — economic, political, education and health. As it stands, Malaysia’s ranking has dropped from its overall ranking of 72 in 2006 to 97 among 134 countries in 2011. Our country joins the bottom quarter, made up largely of developing countries in the Middle East and Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

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Instead of high watermark for women’s rights, Najib’s hijacking of women portfolio proves to be an even lower point for women agenda

The launching of Pakatan Rakyat’s Women’s Agenda tonight is a historic event, as gender equality and empowerment of women to improve their social, educational, economic and political status must be accepted by everyone as part of human rights which must involve the commitment and challenge to everyone in the country.

Recently, women’s rights should have witnessed a highwater mark in Malaysia when the Women’s Minister is also the Prime Minister, but unfortunately, the opposite is the case – with women agenda reaching an even lower point with the hijacking of the Women Minister’s portfolio by a male – as if there are no eligible and qualified Malaysian woman for the post!

“Janji Ditepati” has recently been Najib’s favourite subject, but with Najib as Women’s Minister for the past six months, are women in Malaysia satisfied with “Promises Fulfilled” with regard to women issues and causes? Read the rest of this entry »

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Why women are marching on March 18

— Ivy Josiah
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 17, 2012

MARCH 17 — Tomorrow, a coalition of organisations called Wanita Suara Perubahan will gather at the Padang Astaka in Petaling Jaya. The staff, members and volunteers of the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) will also be marching proudly as part of Wanita Suara Perubahan with thousands of women from all over Malaysia demanding a clean government.

We will all be wearing white gloves. The gloves represent clean hands and symbolise clean government and as the country prepares for next general election, we want our elected representatives to commit to ensuring a clean government for Malaysia.

We want our political leaders to accept and realise the demands of women, which include: a government free from corruption, the introduction of a decent living wage, a better quality of life, an end to gender-based violence, the repeal of laws that restrict public assemblies and the establishment of free and fair elections.

Our demand for a corruption-free and accountable government is critical, as women are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of corruption, racism, exploitation, divisive politics and a curtailment of civil liberties. Millions of ringgit have been misspent that should have been used to ensure adequate housing, health, transportation, education, living wages and environmental protection. Women suffer the consequences of unjust laws as well as poor enforcement of laws relating to personal safety and gender-based violence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Asian women: Same countries, different worlds

— Dr Noeleen Heyzer
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 08, 2012

MARCH 8 — We are in a race against time — with just three years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Many of our people, even in the same country, continue to live in different worlds. This is especially true for large numbers of Asian women, whose experience of development and growth remains starkly different from that of men — especially when compounded by disparities of ethnicity, caste, economic status, education and geographical location.

The best celebration of International Women’s Day this year will be a commitment to redouble our efforts in a final push on the MDGs to 2015 — because confronting gender inequality and advancing the empowerment of women holds the key to accelerating regional development and meeting the goals.

The power of the MDGs lies in their promise of a better world. Since their adoption by the member states of the United Nations in 2001, the eight goals have become universally recognised as important milestones in the pursuit of a more equitable future for all. Read the rest of this entry »

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