Parliamentary committee on gender equality boosts reform efforts

THE formation of a parliamentary select committee is a promising move to reform Parliament. As you decide what parliamentary select committees (PSCs) to form, we urge you to establish a PSC on gender equality. (File pix)

THE formation of a parliamentary select committee is a promising move to reform Parliament.

As you decide what parliamentary select committees (PSCs) to form, we urge you to establish a PSC on gender equality.

The Pakatan Harapan manifesto includes a commitment to ensure “the legal system protects women’s rights and dignity”, including to “review all laws relating to gender equality to ensure that every woman enjoys legal equality”.

Achieving this requires a review and reform of the legal system, which the PSC on gender equality would facilitate.

Forming a PSC would demonstrate Parliament’s commitment to gender equality, especially after the failure of government to fulfil its commitment to 30 per cent women representation, in cabinet and state assemblies, except eventually Selangor

The Manifesto Wanita, a civil society 14th General Election initiative, also demanded a PSC on gender equality.

This manifesto was endorsed by 47 civil society organisations and 18 political candidates or politicians.

The manifesto includes a promise to “make our human rights record respected by the world”.

The previous government did not fare well in its review by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) earlier this year.

To improve, Cedaw informed the government about the “crucial role of the legislative power in ensuring the full implementation of the Convention (Cedaw)”, and urged Parliament to “take the necessary steps” to implement the observations.

Forming a PSC on gender equality would demonstrate the new government is making efforts to meet Cedaw’s recommendations.

Many other jurisdictions have parliamentary committees on gender equality and women’s rights.

In the United Kingdom, the PSC for Women and Equalities examines legislation, policy, and expenditure of the government in relation to gender equality issues.

The select committee can call upon experts and hold public conferences when investigating and auditing the government’s performance on these issues.

Other examples of parliamentary committees on gender include the Committee on the Empowerment of Women (India), the House Standing Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women (Cyprus), the Gender Equality Committee (Croatia), the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (European Parliament), Senate Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (Belgium), and the Equity and Gender Committee (Mexico).

In the previous Dewan Rakyat, a women’s parliamentary caucus existed , but it was established without a resolution by Parliament.

By OPEN LETTER

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