KUALA LUMPUR: There should be at least eight female ministers if the new Cabinet comprises 25 ministries.
That is the message of women’s rights groups and their allies who assembled at Istana Negara yesterday to peacefully picket for the cause.
The gathering, organised by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), called on Pakatan Harapan to fulfil its promise of having a minimum 30% representation in Cabinet.
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) executive director Angela M. Kuga Thas said 30% was needed because women had very different experiences and perspectives of what development solutions require.
“Women are known to have pushed for child-friendly policies, the Domestic Violence Act and the recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act,” she said.
Sisters In Islam executive director Rozana Isa wondered just how much women’s issues were put front and centre by the Cabinet.
“If women’s issues aren’t more actively and aggressively prioritised at the parliamentary level, then I feel women and their rights will be left far behind. What we’re asking for is just the minimum 30%,” she said.
Angela said there were enough qualified women MP candidates, citing Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh who was the first woman Speaker of the Selangor state assembly.
“She had no experience of being a Speaker, and yet she grabbed that opportunity and performed really well.
“It’s about making equal opportunities and (creating) access to equal opportunity,” she said, adding that all it took was for their names to be put forward.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) acting director Ren Chung Yu said: “If it doesn’t even reach 30% of women in Cabinet, when we know that women make up 50% in the country, do you think we’re getting the best? Not likely.
“We congratulate Pakatan for putting three women in Cabinet already but we want to make sure that when the next 10 to 15 appointments are made, the Government fulfils its promise to the people,” he added.
Others who came yesterday were representatives from the National Council of Women’s Organisations, which represents 200 women non-governmental organisations nationwide.
In just nine days, over 6,400 people have signed a letter, seeking for the minimum 30% women’s representation in Cabinet.