KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — A stronger mandate for Barisan Nasional in the 14th general election could see the government implement a 30-per cent quota for women in the Senate, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
Najib said this at the launch of the Women In Politics Kuala Lumpur 2017 conference here, ostensibly to woo women voters ahead of the national polls.
“We could start with the proposal of a 30-per cent quota for women in the Upper House if BN wins with a stronger mandate,” Najib said in his keynote address.
“I’d like to see this idea get carried through the Senate could be a good place for them to show their skills (in politics,)” the Pekan MP added.
Umno has long relied on women for support, especially housewives in rural constituencies who form the core of the party's Wanita wing.
Najib raised this point in his speech today, saying women were the backbone of his party.
He called for more women participation in politics in recognition of their contribution, but did not state if this meant the party would field more women candidates for the upcoming polls.
“In terms of women in politics, we would like to see more participating, as their presence would better reflect the electorate and make the political process more inclusive, thus strengthening our democracy,” Najib said.
Najib has made women empowerment a key agenda for his administration, previously targeting a 30 per cent quota for top posts in the private sector for women.
Today, Najib said women officers make up 57.5 per cent of the civil service excluding the police and military services.
The Najib administration also launched the Malaysian chapter of the "30 per cent club" recently, which aims for gender balance across all organisations, including the boards of publicly listed companies.
However, the prime minister admitted today that the government was behind on this target.
“So, I have warned that from next year, the government will name and shame PLCs which do not have women as board members.
“They may, I have warned, not be given government contracts.”
The warning came as part of the government's women empowerment agenda that were outlined under recent federal Budgets. The initiatives included guidelines for women empowerment programmes in the private sector.
Under Budget 2018, GLCs and GLICs are required to have at least 30 per cent women as board members. The government also proposed maternity leave for the private sector be increased from 60 to 90 days, similar to that of the civil service.