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Use Vote to Empower Women

Sarawak Women for Women Society, Press Release - 25 April 2018

SWWS sees the forthcoming election as a golden opportunity to choose candidates who will voice in Putra Jaya issues close to the hearts of Sarawakian women. 

What matters to women needs to be listened to by all candidates. The range of issues cut across many areas not just those traditionally seen as dealt with by the Ministry of Welfare, Community Well-being, Women, Family and Child Development” said their President Margaret Bedus, adding ”SWWS is not aligned to any party. We want all parties to be aware of issues affecting women’s life and to choose candidates – male as well as female – who can raise these concerns in Parliament and work for change.”

From their experiences, SWWS has prioritised 4 areas needing more action at the Federal level. These are: –

  • Passing an Effective Gender Equality Bill: The recent UN review of Malaysia’s performance as a signatory to CEDAW (the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) clearly showed such legislation is needed to address current shortfalls. Disappointingly Parliament was dissolved before any legislation could be tabled. Once discrimination is clearly illegal then progress can be made in all fields including employment. 
  • Improved Access to Health Care:   Sarawak has specific problems due to the dispersed population and the poor infrastructure to reach rural areas.  All are affected but especially women who are usually those caring for the sick. Federal budgets for health provision including staffing, travel to rural areas and training need to reflect needs in State to reduce current inequalities.
  • Develop Infrastructure in Rural Areas:  Roads and cell phone/internet access need to be on a par with Semenanjung to facilitate economic opportunities; increase universal access to key services; make it easier for family members to remain in touch and lessen the rural/urban divide.
  • Increase Measures to Address Abuse: Legislation against sexual harassment; systematic implementation of child safety programmes and reproductive health in schools; adequate resources to provide support to those abused; advancing a human rights approach and access to help for those in rural areas are all measures required to tackle abuse. 

These issues are all aligned with 3 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – advancing good health and well-being; reducing inequalities; and achieving gender equality.  

SWWS urges all voters to choose candidates who will champion the rights of women.  Equality for women is not only good for women but is good for society as when women are empowered they can be free from abuse; participate fully in all sectors and create a society where all can achieve a healthy balance between work and personal life.