KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The new federal government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) should live up to its promise of having women make up 30 per cent of policymakers in Malaysia, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) said today.
JAG said PH has again neglected to fulfil its commitment of having women make up at least 30 per cent of all policy-making positions, expressing its concern over the minimal representation of women in government committees and councils set up by PH.
“Of the 11 policy advisory councils or committee formed by the Pakatan Harapan government, only three have at least 30 per cent representation, and two have no women at all,” the JAG said in a statement today.
In its manifesto for the 14th general election, PH had made five special commitments to empower and give due recognition to women, with further sub-commitments including “ensuring that at least 30 per cent of policymakers are women”.
JAG today said there are enough women who are both qualified and willing to take up policy-making positions, highlighting the fact that women make up over 50 per cent of Malaysia’s population.
“The low representation of women on the committees and councils raises questions if the best candidates were selected for these important positions,” JAG said of the new 11 bodies formed under the new PH administration.
“Ensuring that women make up at least 30 per cent of the committees and councils will help ensure that top talent is not overlooked and that more inclusive policy recommendations are made. We should be aiming for equal (50 per cent) and diverse representation,” it added.
Rectifying the lack of women representation
Out of the 11 councils or committees listed by JAG, four are under the prime minister, both the finance minister and education minister oversee two each, while one each comes under the human resources minister, the foreign minister and the agriculture and agro-based industry minister.
JAG today urged ministries that have already set up such committees or councils to appoint more women to meet the 30 per cent minimum threshold.
As for ministries that will be setting up committees or councils, JAG said they should first “define clear terms of reference and adopt a transparent selection process to ensure the best and representative talent is appointed”.
This process should include a selection criteria and an open process where those who are qualified can apply or be nominated for appointment as members of these committees or councils, JAG said.
The ministries that have yet to form the bodies should also “ensure at least 30 per cent of committee/council members are women, and aim for equal and diverse (50 per cent) representation”.
JAG said individuals who were appointed to such government committees or councils should first ensure at least 30 per cent of the members are women, before taking up the positions. This is regardless of whether these individuals are from civil society, academics or government representatives.
“Prior to accepting positions, ensure at least 30 per cent of members are women. Where this is not met, we urge all male appointees to reject appointments. We urge those who have already accepted positions to do the same,” it said.
The statement by the 13-member JAG was endorsed by nine of its members, namely the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG), Perak Women for Women (PWW), Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO), Sisters in Islam (SIS), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Women’s Centre for Change (WCC Penang).