Women’s Day march set for March 8

Demonstrators take part in a march in conjunction with International Women's Day in Kuala Lumpur March 9, 2019 ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Demonstrators take part in a march in conjunction with International Women's Day in Kuala Lumpur March 9, 2019 ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — March 8 has been set for the Women’s March Malaysia, in conjunction with the International Women’s Day, with its organising committee outlining seven demands for the government.

In a statement today, the committee demanded for a Gender Equality Act, as well to have Putrajaya declare a climate crisis and draw up plans to mitigate the issue.

The organiser also called for an end to all violence based on gender and sexual orientation, banning child marriages, ensuring women’s rights and freedom to make choices over their own bodies and lives, as well as equal pay for work of equal value and equal public and political participation involving women.

“Malaysia is a signatory to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) C100- Equal Renumeration Convention.

“Under these treaties, Malaysia is obligated to show commitment to legal reform and social change which address these seven demands of Women’s March Malaysia 2020,” the organiser’s statement read.

The organising committee of the event also condemned what it labelled as an “unethical” media coverage of its march last year, which it said had prompted hate speeches, privacy violations, targeted property damage, as well as online harassment of those who participated in the march.

In view of the said issues, participants of the march this year have also been advised to wear masks for self-protection, in voicing out their demands

“As organisers, we are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all participants, and we urge individuals who wish to take pictures or videos of the march to be considerate about the privacy of those participating by either blurring out faces or capturing photos or videos without the faces of participants.

“However, as we cannot guarantee that bystanders will adhere by these basic rules of consent, we suggest that participants who are concerned about their privacy wear face masks while exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly regarding the seven demands for women’s rights and gender equality in Malaysia.

“The use of face masks is also in line with the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) call for increased precautions to be taken regarding the ongoing Covid-19 global health crisis,” the statement read.

The organising committee also reminded the authorities on the freedom to assemble and asked for their cooperation to ensure the safety of the march participants.

Last year, police dropped a sedition investigation against the organisers of the International Women’s Day March, who held a peaceful assembly in March.

Malaysiakini reported Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin confirming the matter in a written reply to Senator Siti Fatimah Yahya, who had reportedly asked to know the latest development on the case.

The news portal reported Muhyiddin telling Siti that the case has been classified as ‘no further action’ (NFA) and dropped.

In March, organisers of the march, which was held in the city, said they were being investigated by the police under PAA 9 (5) and Sedition Act 4 (1).

The organising committee said public statements by police, politicians and various parties had mischaracterised the march as an “illegal LGBT assembly”, which had caused multiple forms of backlash and had shifted the focus away from the five demands made on the day.

The participants of the gathering held in Kuala Lumpur had included members of Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Sisters in Islam (SIS), activists, students and various people from all across Malaysia.

Bernama previously reported Muhyiddin saying that no permit was issued by the authorities to allow the IWD organisers to hold its event.

He reportedly said that the government strongly rejects any move to organise an assembly without a permit, as it would be in violation of PAA 2012.

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