PETALING JAYA: Women voters are not only the majority among the country’s electorate, their numbers have also been growing at a faster rate compared to men ahead of the 14th general election (GE14).
According to Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Jalil, 50.44% or 7.3 million voters out of the country’s 14.6 million-strong electorate are women as at June this year.
The percentage of women voters is an increase from GE13 when they made up 50.23% or 6.6 million of the country’s 13.2 million voters.
This rising number is one reason Shahrizat, who is also Barisan Nasional’s women’s wing chief, is pushing for the coalition to field more female candidates in GE14.
In GE13, Barisan’s women candidates won 13 parliament seats nationwide and 26 state seats in all states except Sarawak, which held its state election separately.
“What I am fighting for is an improvement from the last election. I hope the number of women elected representatives we have now will rise in the next general eleciton.
“When I fight for seats for women, I don’t just fight for Umno. I also sit on the main council of Barisan, so I always fight for participation for all women as the Ketua Wanita of Barisan Nasional,” Shahrizat said in an interview.
She said the call for more women candidates had been channelled to coalition chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak “loudly and clearly but in a civilised way”.
“You have to look at the seats and figure out who is best to field them, regardless of gender,” she said.
“For example, I have many potential candidates who are very qualified – lawyers, doctors, accountants, you name it, but some are Wanita Umno division chiefs in constituencies which are not Umno areas.”
On the upcoming Umno general assembly, she said Wanita Umno’s approach had been to work hard and let the results speak for themselves.
“I believe every day is an election day in Malaysia, and Wanita Umno has been quietly doing its work and serving the community.”
Asked about her key message to her delegates with this year’s assembly being the last party gathering before GE14, Shahrizat smiled and replied: “Keep calm and carry on.”