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SWWS Call to Voters and Candidates

Sarawak Women for Women Society, Press Release - 13 December 2021

As an NGO committed to gender equality and effectively addressing all forms of abuse, especially gender based violence, Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) calls on all candidates to make clear their stance on these issues and for voters to only support those who realise the importance of tackling these issues.

Too many see what are commonly described as “women issues” as marginalized issues despite women being half of the electorate. These issues impact many directly and indirectly. The impact goes beyond family and personal well-being with it internationally being well recognised that gender inequality affects poverty rates and the productivity of states and countries. 

This is why the UN sees obtaining gender equality as a hallmark of development and included it in its list of Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. These 17 goals are interrelated and are seen as the required pathway, through Partnership, to advance Peace and Prosperity for People and the Planet.  The “5 P” pillars of this global initiative are even more needed now the world faces the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and accelerated climate change.

Peace also includes the right to be free of violence.  Women and children are the most vulnerable.  All need to play their part to achieve this and give priority to measures which reduce its prevalence and the power imbalances that create the vulnerability.

Poverty, while affecting men as well as women, is more common for women due to the challenges many face to enter the workforce; accrue EPF savings and juggle looking after children when partners have deserted them. This needs to be the work of more than one Ministry if there is to be systematic change across the many policy areas which need to tackle the multiple issues women and children face.  It is time to mainstream gender issues.

Partnership is required, as demonstrated by the issue of statelessness which blights so many children born here. Whoever is in power at State level has to continue to push for more effective, speedier Federal run systems so people are not penalized for the difficulties they, or their ancestors, have had to register births and marriages. Children without documentation will continue to face poverty due to lack of educational and work opportunities – they need a brighter, secure future.

SWWS calls for all of the above to be given priority by voters and candidates across all parties. These issues will not go away. Whoever wins needs to address them across Ministries and have the support of the people.