KUALA LUMPUR: After 39 years, outgoing Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Shahrizat Jalil is walking away from active politics.
She has relinquished all her party posts and will be an ordinary member.
“In politics, we need to realise when we should step down. I have been in this field for a long time. It is time to give way to the younger ones.”
Shahrizat also said she wanted to spend time with her grandchildren.
Speaking to reporters yesterday after casting her vote to pick the chiefs of Youth, Wanita and Puteri, she said: “I have worked with many Wanita members. Many of them are capable to lead. I am confident that I am leaving the Wanita wing to the best candidate.”
She said she was proud of her 11-year stint as the women, family and community development minister.
Among her achievements was to get Article 8 of the Federal Constitution amended to prohibit gender discrimination.
“Many laws were audited to ensure the rights and interest of women are protected. This was my biggest contribution,” she added.
The former Lembah Pantai lawmaker also congratulated current Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, adding that she was proud of her achievement although she was from a different party.
As for Wanita Umno, Shahrizat thanked them for giving her the support during her time as the wing’s chief – for nine years.
She hoped the next Wanita Umno leader would have a “clear vision” and she should ensure that the wing’s raison d’etre was to serve the public.
“Wanita Umno has been the backbone of the party. The wing must lead and must never be sidelined.
“We have worked hard, during my time. My team and I have put the political highway in Umno. From being just a wing, we are now the backbone.
“I hope they will change the party constitution to also accommodate women leaders in every strata of the party, from the branch, division, state and the main (national) structure itself,” she said.
She also hoped that more women would be included in the party’s state liaison committees, adding that not many women had been given the chance to be part of it.
“I hope the new crop of leaders will look into the empowerment of women,” she said.
Asked about Umno presidential candidate Khairy Jamaluddin’s pledge to introduce two more vice-presidents post to the party – one reserved for a woman and another for a Sabahan – Shahrizat said she welcomed it.
Calling it a “good idea”, Shahrizat said Wanita Umno had been having such resolutions for many years.
“The three (vice-presidents) posts are open for Wanita to contest in but at least one should be reserved for Wanita because I understand it is not easy in Umno for Wanita to win these seats. So, that was my target,” she said.
“I hope this year there would be a special assembly to amend the party constitution.
“But my wish is to see the highway which I have set for the empowerment of women, mainstreaming of women in meaningful positions will finally happen.”
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