KUCHING: A week to International Women’s Day, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has made known again his support and commitment to gender equality.
Addressing a Wanita Barisan Nasional dinner here on Monday, he urged them to give him examples of gender inequality.
“And I will have the law changed. Women should be on par with men,” he said to applause.
“Women must speak up for their rights because most men aren’t going to do it. Men and women are obviously not the same but everyone deserves equal treatment,” he said.
Women, said Adenan, must speak up in all fields, including religion and politics.
“They must be assertive. Don’t be too submissive. Follow my wife’s example,” he quipped.
“If you don’t champion your own rights, nobody else will. If we say we want freedom, it’s freedom for everybody, not just men.”
Turning his attention to religion, Adenan said he did not want the country to be ruled by “narrow-minded ustaz”.
“Some ustaz want to play god, (issuing) fatwa after fatwa after fatwa. Fatwa is an opinion, not law.
“You (women) must assert your own worthiness and not let yourself be regarded as less than a camel. In the old Arab days, the value of women was less than that of a camel. Women were property.
“It was Islam that raised the status of women. But some people use Islam to downgrade women. We don’t want that nonsense,” he said.
The coming state elections would also see more women candidates, Adenan said.
Currently, there are just four women elected representatives from Barisan in the state assembly and three women MPs from Sarawak in Parliament.
PBB, he said, would be fielding more women candidates and urged the other parties to follow suit.
“I’ll appreciate it if the other parties – other than PBB – will field women candidates.”
International Women’s Day falls on March 8.