As the nomination of candidates for Penang’s upcoming state elections draws near, the Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) would like to call on all political parties to prioritise issues involving women, children, and gender; to field the best candidates among their ranks of members, regardless of their gender, to lead these issues within the state; and last but not least, to field more women candidates in order to improve women’s representation as a whole in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) and State Executive Council (EXCO).
With the formation of the unity government at the federal level, changes in the state government lineups are inevitable. Political parties are revising their strategies, including calling for fresh faces in the state elections.
Regardless of all these shifts, women, children, and gender issues must be given priority by the state government.
Therefore, it is critical to have strong and effective leaders on these issues in the DUN and EXCO lineups, whether they be women or men.
Chong Eng, the current caretaker Penang EXCO member for social development has set an example of a competent and gender sensitive leader.
Under her portfolio, Pusat Perkhidmatan Wanita Seberang Perai (PPW), a smart partnership project funded by the Penang state government and managed by WCC, was set up to help underserved women and children on the mainland of Penang, especially victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The first of its kind in Malaysia, PPW has supported over 60,000 people in its 14 years of operations. During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Chong spearheaded the launch of Penang’s Safe Family Policy to combat domestic violence, under which WCC has worked closely with the state government to train hundreds of First Support Points (FSPs) from various agencies and NGOs to handle victims on the ground.
To continue Penang’s good performance on women, children, and gender issues, we urge political parties to field candidates with the best levels of knowledge, skills, and experience in these areas.
The lack of such competencies among leaders assigned to these portfolios will hamper or delay progress for women and children (who already suffer from violence and discrimination of various forms) in our state policies and programmes.
Last but not least, it is our hope that under the Madani government, Penang will finally achieve the minimum critical mass of 30 per cent women’s representation in our DUN and EXCO lineups, towards social and political equality in state decision making.
WCC is an NGO that offers assistance to women and children who are abused, raped or sexually assaulted.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Ova.