Field more women candidates: Group
Published on: Sunday, April 15, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: All women voters must unite to realise our potential of being the king-maker in the coming 14th General Election (GE14).Making the call, Sabah Women's Action Resource Group (SAWO) President Winnie Yee said this is feasible because women voters make up 50pc of the electorate.

On this score, she said the ripple effect is profound and society is better off if the powers that be nominate more women candidates to increase women's participation in the political process.

"We should reward women politicians who include gender equality in their election campaign by voting them in to represent us in the State Legislative Assembly and in Parliament. Let us for once put our concerns as women as the priority and truly make 2018 Women's Empowerment Year.

"Women political leaders at all levels must know and act upon their rights provided by our country's laws and policies in relation to gender equality. They must show leadership in this matter to earn the respect and support of women voters who make up half the electorate," Yee said in a statement.

Towards this end, SAWO is calling for all women in all political parties to unite to push for more women candidates to be fielded by actively lobbying their party leaders to fulfil their obligations to field at least 30pc women candidates.

"We exhort the component parties in Barisan Nasional (BN), which was the previous government in Sabah, to put forward more women candidates to stand in the coming election. Without nominating women, we will never achieve the shared vision of empowering Malaysian women, including as elected representatives," she said.

Yee, a gender expert, argued that in the arena of party politics, we cannot afford to sit back and expect that more women candidates will be fielded "just because party leaders suddenly decide to be fair-minded and committed to gender equality and justice".

Her contention is that this has been proven in the past 13 general elections (state and parliamentary) where women candidates fielded have been around 10 to 12pc of total candidates, a long way from the current stated target of 30pc.

"In the GE13 in Sabah, the number of women candidates fielded by BN was a dismal 6pc for state seats and a disappointing 12pc for parliamentary seats," she added, while claiming that BN has failed to nominate more women to increase the number of assemblywomen despite being able to do so under Article 14(1) of the Sabah State Constitution.

The lack of women's representation and involvement in Sabah's political process, Yee pointed out, is particularly a cause for concern, "especially when BN leaders have talked about an inclusive and comprehensive BN manifesto, which should further strengthen women's position in the male-dominated political arena". - Mary Chin


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