A women-only-additional-seats system is the most feasible, fastest and least contentious way of accelerating women’s participation in formal politics, says Dr Maznah Mohamad, an academic and a member of the steering committee on gender and electoral reform convened by the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC).
Women’s under-representation in politics
As the 14th general election approaches, will there be any significant change to Malaysian women’s under-representation in political office? Would women continue to form 50 per cent of all voters? Would all women’s wings of political parties be dutifully mobilised to win the hearts of all voters? And yet, when the election is done and over with, only a very small number of women will hold any leadership position.
Malaysia is ranked 156th out of 190 countries in terms of women’s representation in parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The number of women elected to the Malaysian Parliament ranged from 1.9 per cent in 1955 to 11.3 per cent in 2008. Currently, only 10.8 per cent of parliamentarians are women.
The federal cabinet has only three women ministers, while dtate cabinets only have one woman member in each of their executive councils with the exception of Selangor, Kedah and Perak with two women. Terengganu has not a single woman on its State Executive Council.
Women’s representation in party leadership, according to their websites is highest within the National Justice Party (PKR) at 26.7 per cent, followed by the PBS at 21.4 per cent, the DAP at 12.5 per cent and Umno at 12.3 per cent. Gerakan occupies the lowest spot with only five per cent of women in its highest governing committee. Obviously not much is being done to redress women’s under-representation within internal party structures themselves.
Click here to read the full article published by Aliran on 5 July 2017.