There is a lot about the current situation with COVID-19 that is frightening and unknowable. However, there are also some extraordinary opportunities to do things differently – and do them better. There are some things that those involved in systems of governance can do to transform the current emergency into an opportunity to restructure gendered power norms and create healthier, more vibrant societies and communities.
Malaysian Parliament renews commitment to women’s rights
On 18-19 February, the Malaysian Parliament held the Women’s Political Leadership conference in Kuala Lumpur.
The #WomenWhoLead summit brought together political and civil society leaders and influencers from across the Commonwealth to share inspiration and insights around the myths that prevent us from creating positive change for women’s rights.
Co-hosted with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Malaysia, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), the two-day conference brought together leading voices to discuss the barrier’s to women’s participation in politics and gender equality across Malaysia.
Over 100 people from all backgrounds – local and community organisations, business, academia and politics – attended the conference, pledging to do more to champion women’s rights in Malaysia.
(Photo: Representatives from the Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group join our call for more women in politics.)
Saying that government offices and the Parliament building would be supplied with childcare facilities, Women’s Minister Hannah Yeoh pledged to:
“fight for supporting infrastructure to keep women in politics and in the workforce.”
The Speaker of the Malaysian Parliament Mohamad Ariff bin Md Yusof pledged to:
“give his full support to gender equalisation”.
The Malaysian Government also committed to a new anti-stalking law to safeguard women while women’s empowerment organisation LeanIn described the conference as “historic”.
Collectively, these actions show just some of the steps which the Malaysian Government and Parliament are taking to further women’s rights.
The conference took place with UK Government support through the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy, an initiative to advance inclusive and accountable democracy across 18 Commonwealth countries.
Speaking about the conference, the UK Conservative MP Richard Graham, a WFD Governor and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Malaysia, said:
“This conference is a great opportunity to continue progress made on gender equality and women’s contribution in Malaysian democracy – and I look forward to hearing more of the inspiring work done with WFD on this.”
Rushanara Ali MP, a WFD Governor and MP for the Labour Party who also attended the conference, said:
“There is so much to celebrate in women rising to leadership positions in Malaysia but there is so much more to do.
“The Malaysian government has clearly shown today their commitment to getting more women leaders to the top and I wish them every success in their endeavours.
“I would also like to thank Westminster Foundation for Democracy for their support in organising today’s conference.”
(Photo: British High Commissioner for Malaysia, Vicki Treadell pledges to support #womenwholead throughout the Commonwealth.)
WFD is committed to improving women’s empowerment around the world. Conferences which champion #WomenWhoLead like this one, enable emerging women leaders to further develop their skills in a supportive environment.
In 2019, WFD’s work will continue to help people, organisations and governments overcome the social, cultural, economic and political norms that inhibit women’s full participation in politics, showing that there is no limit to what women can accomplish.
(Main photo: Over 100 participants gather for historic #womenwholead summit in Parliament of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, February 2019.)
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