The Involvement of Women in Politics Should Be Encouraged in Malaysia

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Table of Contents

  • Promoting a Better Governance
  • Improving Economic Growth
  • Promoting Gender Equality

Political participation as what is mentioned in the Community Based Rehabilitation: CBR Guidelines (2010) can be defined as a broad range of activities and doings that related to the people in expressing their views and opinions on their nation and how it is being governed and trying to take part in important decisions that will affect their lives. This ranging from joining specific movements, groups, party or organization until being the candidates and campaigning at various level of their nation. According to Van Deth (2016), the list of participatory activities has become virtually infinite and includes actions such as voting, demonstrating, contacting public officials, boycotting, attending party rallies, guerrilla gardening, posting blogs, volunteering, joining flash mobs, signing petitions, buying fair-trade products, and even suicide protests. Regarding the issue of political participation, this essay will be discussing about the political participation of women in Malaysian political scene.

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It has become an issue where in Malaysia it is recognizable that the involvement of women is still low, be it in the bureaucracy or in the legislative process. According to Pey (2018), Malaysia’s 14th general election (GE14) saw unprecedented numbers of women standing as candidates, they ended up only as a tiny 11% of elected representatives. The political space for women is restricted due to socio-cultural barriers and patriarchy within political institutions. Although the situation is improving in Malaysia but it still need some encouragement from many angles in order to increase the political participation of women in Malaysia. According to Gilardi (2015), he found that only one in five members of parliament are female, on average and even in Nordic countries, with about 42 percent women in parliament, it has yet to reach full gender equality. In Malaysia it has been a norm where men have always be the dominant ones because of many factors and this has to change and the involvement of women should be fostered. It is strongly agreed that the involvement of women in politics should be encouraged in the government because it promotes better governance, economic growth, and gender equality.

Promoting a Better Governance

The involvement of women in politics will promote better governance. According to Sheng (2016) & UN (2018), it is believed that inclusion and equal participation of all citizens is crucial to express good governance as practiced by dominating democratic countries around the world. This is to ensure peace and development in democratic countries is sustained. Thus, the approach of gender responsive political participation was introduced to secure better gender equality in political basis. For instance according to United Nations Women for Europe and Central Asia (2019), Turkey are committed in promoting gender equality which they received expert assistance from the United Nations towards better gender representation. In particular, among the effort were strengthening women’s leadership and participation in the political field, women elected officials for political post and enacting laws to match its goals in fulfilling gender equality commitments. Hence, women participation in politics helped accomplishing gender equality goals.

According to Australian Human Rights Commission (2012), Women’s participation in politics help advancing different range of policy issues for instance, according to Connley (2019), United States women democratic candidates has suggested key policies in 2020 presidential campaign such as equal pay, paid parental leave, abortion rights and many more. Moreover, according to Tobin (2016), women politicians tend to make diverse policy choices from men politicians for instance, policies that promote fair distribution of public resources and development. Also, studies indicates that whether a legislator is male, or female has a noticeable impact on their selection of policies . For example, according to Zingg (2015), he denoted there is a steady increase in policies pertaining to issues reflecting on families, women, ethnic and racial minorities. Specifically, in the case of Malaysia it is agreed that women made policies that pushes to protect and promote women’s rights specifically, women who suffered from discrimination and gender-based violence (Empower Malaysia, 2019). Also, according to United Nations Human Rights (2019), it defines better governance as corruption is minimized which statistically proven by Xu and Liangxue (2015), he found that women are less corrupt than men. He argued that women tend to have higher ethical values which they are more willing to sacrifice personal benefits for public interest. Particularly, they focus more on infrastructure that can corresponds towards women needs. Therefore, the government must guarantee placement of women in government administration to advocate better governance.

Improving Economic Growth

Constituencies held by women experienced substantial economic growth all over the world. According to Baskaran,Bhalotra, Min & Uppal (2018), they asserted that India experienced 1.8 percent surge on economic performance per year in constituencies held by women legislators. Also, economic performance of each constituency held by women performed better compared to men’s constituency. In particular globally, it is proven that as the parliamentary seats held by women increases, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita also increases. For instance, according to Callen in 2019, the increment of GDP rate can be understood that the country’s economy is doing well. Specifically, Thus, it is true that bringing more women into the political sphere increases the chances of country to boost their economic power.

Furthermore, according to Xu and Liangxue in 2015, they revealed that globally women involved in politics and decision making are increasing which seat proportion assigned increased from 1997 to 2013. It could be seen the representation gap in parliament is reducing. Hence, economist argued that the representation gap between male and female is consistent with economic development. However, abundant effort needs to be done to have equal political power. Thus, actions must be taken by the government on suggesting women empowerment policies to help women to gain power within political frame. According to Xu and Liangxue (2015), the advancement of female education would influence their political participation subsequently. For instance, policy makers forecasted the amount of position held by women in parliament would increase if the amount of them receiving education also increases. Other than that, socioeconomic improvement among women would result to increase proportion seats taken by them. For example, women’s ability to participate equally in the markets such as free access to control productive resources (United Nation Women, 2019). Also, according to Xu and Liangxue (2015), women should work more to improve their socioeconomic status that will eventually help them to gain power and enters the politics world. Besides that, according to United Nation Women (2019), female employment rates would boost up the GDP by over USD 6 trillion. Thus, if this effort were to be continued by the government locally, this would ultimately create opportunity for the female employment and increase their possibility to hold more seats in the parliament which this can aid to the country's economic performance.

Promoting Gender Equality

The involvement of women in politics at the same time will improve and promote gender equality parallel with the other developments that is brought along together with economic development and better governance. By involving directly in politics, women will be the nearest hands, minds and body that will influence the policy making process directly as they are able to take part in the planning, and specifically in the execution part of policy making process. This policy making process is one of the important parts in a country where decision making on policies will crucially sets a country direction. According to Inter-Parliamentary Union (2009), it stated that parliament is a place where decision making policies are discussed which sets a country direction. In particular, the parliament is used as a platform for the people representatives to debate and forward societal interest in catering the welfare of the people. However, the parliament cannot regard all people interest if the membership is not inclusive as the population it seeks to represent. In specific, figures show that only 24.3 percent of all national parliamentarians were women as of February 2019 from 11.3 percent in 1995. Hence, low proportions of women participation in politics proves the imbalance system of electoral political representatives in framing the prospect of the country. Although the figure is increasing, yet it is still not enough because 24.3 percent is not even half of the parliamentarians around the world and it is surely not representative enough when they themselves need to represent the people of their constituents. When the population is not entirely or correctly represented, some voices will not be heard thus it will neglect their needs and rights as in this case specifically, the rights and needs of women will somehow be neglected. Policies that are going to be made also will not consider fully on the need of women in a particular society.

Other than that, according to Thornton (2019), currently there are only 3 countries evidently opening space for more women into national parliaments which they enforced legislative candidates’ quotas. This resulted in 50 per cent or more representation of women in single or lower houses specifically, Rwanda, Cuba and Bolivia with 61.3%, 53.2% and 53.1% respectively. Consequently, these countries practice equalized legislative system and their decision-making processes are more inclusive. This practice is basically a good start for the improvement in balance political participation process as more than 50 percent of women participated as the legislators and this will help them to improve the inclusiveness of women in the policy making process so that their voices will be heard, and their rights will not be neglected. Although the practice is just opening up a single house or lower houses only, but this is a good start where lower houses is the ones that have direct linkage to the people, and this will make their voices heard loud and clear. If this is continuously being encouraged, in the future it is not impossible that percentage of women will increase significantly in the upper houses which will give more balance of power between men and women in the executive sectors. The involvement of women will improve the political participation rate and surely will help in promoting gender equality through well planned policies that considers balance in gender equality and not neglecting the rights of women in every aspect of life. In general, more regimes should normalize balanced participation into their state leadership as this urges better equality.

In conclusion, better governance, economic growth and gender equality can be promoted and improved by the increment of women’s political participation, generally in the whole world, and specifically in Malaysia. It is not impossible to encourage the political participation of women as some of the countries such as Rwanda and Cuba already started with the policy implementation in their lower houses of parliament. This step is very bold and should be followed by other nations in the world. In short, the involvement of women in political scene in Malaysia will promote better governance in terms of involvement of women in policy making and less corruption will be done by women. In addition, the participation of women in politics will help in increasing economic growth because it is proven that the economy which is fairer in terms of gender equality will help to convince investors thus will help to boost economic growth. Lastly, the involvement of women in politics will help to promote gender equality by direct involvement of women in policy making thus improving equality from time to time.

In order to encourage the political participation of women, some pragmatic steps should be taken to make sure the situation is improving in the future. According to From political perspective, the role of political party should be revised to raise the degree of inclusiveness of women in the political party. This is where political parties should always think of including women in every decision-making process and administration process because this is one of the first steps should be done by political parties to promote gender equality within the party. At the same time, to make sure balance of opinions from both genders in the legislative process, the quota of women in Malaysian politics should be increased to at least 50 percent. Particularly, according to Selvanathan & Hooi (2019), Pakatan Harapan government in 2018 proposed in their manifesto to increase the quota for women in parliament to 30 percent however, they have yet to fulfill the mandate hence, Malaysia rank badly in women's political representation and gender equality globally. On the other hand, according to Chin (2016), research indicates that women are not appropriately represented in leadership positions in Malaysia hence, equal chances should be given to women in getting positions in organizations, corporations or political parties. Thus, Malaysia should envision to have a structured political based education taught in early stages of school to educate students on political knowledge while the interest in politics should be instilled, nurtured by parents from the very beginning of childhood. 

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