FEMININE TOUCH: With more than 50 percent female voters and a 40 percent increase in the number women who contested in the election. women still make up about only 10 percent of the winning candidates. With just two ministers and five deputy ministers in the new cabinet lined-up, political analysts, academicians and non-governmental organizations lament the still low political participation of women, writes Audrey Vijaindreh.
A total of 168 women contested in the 13th General Election, however, most of them did not win.
Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Social Sciences associate professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said this was so even though almost 51 per cent of voters in the country were women.
“A couple of factors could have contributed to the dismal representation, including women candidates facing each other in non-winnable constituencies, as well as independent female candidates without strong party backing to win support from voters.”
Although there were a number of women representatives elected, more are needed because issues relating to women are best advocated by women themselves, Sivamurugan said.
“Increased women representation is necessary to empower and protect their rights, especially on issues directly relating to them.
“When there’s deficit representation, many issues may not be addressed directly because of the lack of support within the Parliament framework.
“Some may also argue that certain issues are irrelevant to debate on when women’s representation is minimal.
“In fact, this may also open the door to gender biases and sexist statements by irresponsible members of parliament.