Queen’s call for more women in politics still relevant, 14 years later

In 2008, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, presented a detailed report at the 52nd Session of the United Nation Commission on the Status of Women.

The queen, who was the vice-president of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), had then highlighted the lack of women participation in politics and policymaking.

As International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated on March 8, conversations about empowering women in politics remain. In fact, Klang MP Charles Santiago, in his IWD tribute, had highlighted that only 37 women out of 239 candidates will contest in the Johor elections tomorrow.

Here are excerpts of Tunku Azizah’s 2008 report (‘Political Accountability of Women – The Role of Women in Politics’).

“Women in politics should be united, work together to fight for equality and empowerment.

In the political arena throughout the world, women’s participation is only 11 per cent. The rest, being men, of course. There is so much we can do to improve gender policies and the implementation of the laws.

Women in politics must have common strategies and commitment in pursuing policies in domestic violence, health, politics, voting for gender budgets, business opportunities, and funding for women’s non-governmental organisations.

Women in politics must be a voice heard. They must participate in all aspects and at all levels to achieve synergies for measurable progress.

They represent women and are in a better situation to show society what women can do at the ministerial level.

In South Africa, women sit on panels discussing the issues of financing gender equality (efforts) and the role of Parliament. They try to fight for institutional transformation, attempting to change many laws that relate to women.

How to get political institutions to listen to women instead of party bosses? How to represent when women have no power to advance? Their main obstacle is how to sustain the challenge in a patriarchal system.

Despite the massive contribution of women participating in policymaking in the advancement of gender equality in Ireland, women’s participation in politics and civil service is less than in other sectors such as teaching and health services.

(Former Ireland President) Mary Robinson is a role model of advanced female participation in politics.

We have to see political accountability from other dimensions, too. It is a big change when women, who have always played No. 2 in the house, are elected into office.

A woman is still a woman where homemaking and raising children are concerned.

Though we have the right to vote and men need our votes to be elected, in a world of double standards, women continue to be in the background.

We need more women in politics to have our voices heard and to participate in policymaking, especially when dealing with women’s issues.

Women’s presence in the political arena – having the power to change and reach out, enforcing and executing laws – is much cause for celebration.

Don’t forget, we are the hands that rock the cradle, we play a role in grooming the future generation.”

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