The new cabinet and state executive councils should have one-third women's representation in order to promote and protect women's rights in the country, women’s groups are demanding.
Eight women's rights NGOs today called upon Deputy Prime Minister-designate Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Pakatan Harapan leaders to ensure one-third women's representation in the cabinet and state excos.
"We urge Wan Azizah and Pakatan Harapan leaders to make all efforts in ensuring at least one-third women's representation in cabinet and the state excos," they said.
While congratulating Wan Azizah on her recent appointment as minister of women's development and welfare as well, they said they appreciated the fact that Harapan needed the urgency to work to fulfil the promises made for its first 100 days in office.
"We hope that such a step signals a greater priority for the promotion and protection of women's rights in Malaysia," they said.
The women's groups also called upon Wan Azizah to fulfil Harapan's promise to provide 30 percent women's representation in decision-making at all levels of government.
"Little effort is being made in ensuring women's representation in the cabinet and state excos," they added.
Recent trends have shown, quite shockingly, how women are possibly being overlooked for positions in the state executive councils of Selangor, Penang, Malacca and Johor.
"Malacca and Johor too, have fared poorly in ensuring that there is at least 30 percent of women's representation in their state excos.
"With each having only one woman out of 10 and 11 positions, respectively," they added.
The women's groups also urged Wan Azizah to raise the levels of both leaders as well as public consciousness on the need for meaningful women's representation in decision-making.
They added: "There needs to be a critical mass of women elected representatives jointly making these decisions with men, as of all of these decisions have gender implications and impact women's lives.
"We are deeply concerned that Malaysia is already starting on the wrong foot when it comes to gender equality.
"With the Terengganu state exco having no woman representative at all, and worse, having a man oversee women's rights issues.
"There is also only one woman among the 10 ministers appointed to Sabah's state cabinet."
The NGOs that endorsed this call are Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), Sisters in Islam, Association of Women Lawyers, Perak Women for Women, Women’s Aid Organisation, Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group, All Women’s Action Society and Women’s Centre for Change.