• Ilona Andrew

Breaking stereotypes to allow more women participate in politics


Chin speaking during the panel discussion.

2 Aug 2021

By Ilona Andrew


KOTA KINABALU: It is time that Malaysia leaves behind gender-stereotypical mentalities and give opportunities for women to unleash their full potentials in nation-building.


Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said it is a basic human right that anyone, despite their gender, has the right to speak and this means that women should not be stopped from participating in decision-making.


According to her, there are a lot of direct and indirect discriminations against women that have affected their inclination to venture into politics.


Many political parties have started setting a quota for women in their manifestos that is meant as an approach to encourage more women to participate in politics.


However, the activist for women's rights stated that women continue to remain underrepresented as can be seen in the present-day Parliamentarian line-up with 86 per cent of them comprised their male counterparts.


“We have so many issues that need to be discussed involving challenges faced by women such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. But these issues are not lobbied enough in Parliament as they are usually only advocated by female MPs, very seldom men.


"To reach critical mass, we need more women,” she said during a panel discussion by the Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO), yesterday.

Chin reckoned that although women participation in politics is getting more significant now, there are other challenges that they have to go through in the arena.


As she mentioned earlier, many people, even women, still cling to the stereotypical mentalities that women are meant to stay at home only.


She indicated that some people still lack education on gender equality, which needs to be checked off.


“My suggestion is that NGOs and female politicians work together to increase women participation in politics as candidates, be it only as council members, and then work their way up to contesting for state and parliamentary seats.


“To have women leaders with holistic approaches, training should first be done to give them more confidence and understanding about other crucial issues such as environment and education, and not just women’ rights,” the PKR lawmaker stated.


The discussion was participated by women representatives of all political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Sabah.


Aside from Chin, other panellists who were involved in the discussions are DAP’s Sandakan MP Vivan Wong, Warisan’s Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah, and STAR’s Liawan State Assemblyman Datuk Annuar Ayub Aman.


The forum was moderated by Wirawati Warisan deputy chief Jo-Anna Sue Henley Rampas and SAPP women exco deputy chief Yvonne Wong.