KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 ― Female politicians and activists here have lashed out at PAS for reducing women’s roles in society to merely that of homemakers, saying the view expressed by the Islamist party’s Ulama council was old-fashioned and no longer relevant today.
DAP’s Teresa Kok said women over the years have proven themselves capable of handling top, powerful positions typically dominated by men.
“His views are dated, archaic and unacceptable. Today, women have done well in many sectors and many have held powerful positions like prime ministers, presidents and company CEOs,” the Seputeh MP told Malay Mail Online.
“To say that their role is at home is not only a failure to recognise women's contributions, but it is also a contempt on gender equality.”
Parti Amanah Negara's (Amanah) Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said in the current economy, caring for the family should be a responsibility shared by both women and men as it was not enough to have just one breadwinner.
“It is a shared responsibility. Stop blaming women for all problems that occur in the family institution,” the Kota Raja MP said.
“We spend so much educating women and, just like men, they can shoulder both responsibilities in the family and outside.”
Women's Aid Organisation's (WAO) Sumitra Visvanathan suggested that the PAS Ulama Council was out of touch with reality as women today have made critical contributions to their homes, at work and the economy.
“It is regressive and damaging to women, our families and our society,” the WAO executive director added.
On Tuesday during International Women’s Day, the PAS Ulama council called for women to be allowed to fulfil their true function as homemakers.
PAS Ulama information chief Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali At-Takiri said in a statement that households in Malaysia were increasingly broken, citing the rising number of divorces as evidence that the institution of the family was growing weaker.
“As such, it is appropriate that the institution of the family be restored, including providing room and conducive space for each couple, especially wives so that they may perform their true function at home as wives and mothers,” he said.
The PAS clergy wings call came amid reports that Malaysia was regressing on the issue of women in the workforce, with one study showing the country was the worst in Asean for having women in leadership roles.