COMMENT | Recently, the issue regarding the gross underrepresentation of women in Parliament and the state legislative assemblies came to light when Zuraida Kamaruddin planned to propose to the Election Commission (EC) to allocate 30 percent of parliamentary seats for women.
Similarly, she called for 30 percent women representation for state legislative assemblies, local governments and any leadership or decision-making positions.
From this call, we need to deliberate this proposal in detail. Currently, EC has no power to change the seat allocations for the Parliament, let alone impose reserved seats for women. Hence, Zuraida’s proposal to EC is a redundant exercise.
Moreover, Zuraida’s proposal is an attempt to address the serious issue of the low women representation in Malaysian politics. Hence, there are multiple ways that we can explore how to increase women representation, other than the concept of reserved seats.
The gross underrepresentation of women in politics in Malaysia is nothing new as Zuraida said that after GE14, we only had 33 women representatives or 14.86 percent of the total number of members of Parliament (MPs) in the country.
Hence, we need to analyse what are the factors deterring women representation, the reasons to increase women representatives and the methods to strengthen women representation. We propose the middle way forward to increase women representation – seat-based public funding of political parties who produce winnable women candidates...