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PETALING JAYA, April 20 — Women should be better represented in local politics, according to Pakatan Harapan (PH) president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail without offering concrete measures towards this.
Pointing out that nearly half the 14.8 million registered voters were women, she said during a press conference today that the group could easily determine the winners of the general election.
“Women’s role in nation building must be reform and such we must democratise the political system so that more female leaders would come forward,” she said as she sat beside Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, the wife to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
When asked what the two did to further this cause when they had been the wives of the prime minister and deputy prime minister, they said they could not at the time as they were obliged to be apolitical.
“However, both Wan Azizah and I were able to help empower women through Bakti when we were members,” Siti Hasmah said, referring to the Welfare Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
When it was apparent that was the extent of her answer, PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang, or Tian Chua, stepped in to say Dr Mahathir’s industrialisation policies as prime minister increased employment among women especially in the rural area.
“They were employed and thus empowered working in these industries; however, now it is not just matter of being employed but having more say in politics,” he said.
When asked what specifically was preventing women from entering politics, Chua said it was a universal issue but did not venture further.
Earlier, PH Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin said the dearth made it impossible for the pact to deliver on its pledge to field female candidates in a third of the seats they will contest in the general election.
“Regrettably we are not able to achieve our target. However, we are grooming more women to do so, but it is an ongoing process which takes time,” she said.
PH also pledged today to create a new account class with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for homemakers, in which housewives would receive 2 per cent from their husbands’ contributions.