COMMENT | It's International Women's Day tomorrow. This is a day not only to acknowledge and honour the role of women in society but also to draw attention to the challenges women face.
Most attention focuses on the sexual harassment, violence and discrimination women face, from citizenship to wages. Recently, there has been greater attention to the issues of women's health – menstruation, breast cancer and, to a lesser extent, menopause. These issues have taken centre stage in civil society and policy mobilisation.
In studies of elections, the focus has been on women's representation, namely the number and share of candidates. Research also looks at how women's issues and women are engaged in campaigns and voting patterns. Repeatedly, campaigns focus on men and competition among men. This was the case in Sabah 2020 polls, for example.
So far, Johor's 2022 campaign and previous voting patterns show that political parties do not take women adequately seriously and see women through narrow genderised lens. Women are half the electorate in Johor, more than half in 25 seats, and their support is largely taken for granted.
Women Johoreans are keenly aware of political issues and engaged. Data on previous voting behaviour shows that, although there are important gender gaps and differences in voting along gender lines, women participate in high numbers.
The problem is that campaigns are not necessarily engaged with them and the issues they care about. Given the lacklustre campaign so far and Covid realities...