Women's Aid Organisation says it is not up to Najib to decide if there is a need for women's rights movement.
PETALING JAYA: Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) took strong exception to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s dismissal of women’s rights movements in Malaysia.
Najib today dismissed the need for women’s rights groups in Malaysia, saying equality has been given “from the start”.
The prime minister claimed Malaysia is even more advanced than developed nations in this aspect.
Najib, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister was speaking at the Women’s Day celebration this morning.
Said Najib: “In some developed countries, the men were allowed to vote before women but, in Malaysia women had the right to vote from the start.”
Countered WAO executive director Ivy Josiah: “With all due respect, it is not up to the prime minister to proclaim that there is no need for women’s movement. It is up us – half of Malaysia – to decide what we want to do to claim our human rights.
“Our work is not over, there is still more work to be done by the women’s movement.”
In his speech, Najib said: “Don’t think that everything is better [in the developed nations] as we are way ahead, especially in terms of women’s rights.”
Still facing discrimination
He also claimed that the government and private sector are providing more job opportunities for women and this is also reflected in Budget 2013.
“We provide incentives like grants, double tax reductions and allowances to private early education centres so more can be built, and women can go to work.
The WAO is also astonished with Najib’s statement since women are still facing discrimination.
“We are flabbergasted at this pronouncement as every day women experience discrimination – whether it is domestic violence, rape, divorce, getting child and wife maintenance, street crimes and harassment,” said Josiah.
She also asked who are Najib’s gender advisers because discrimination against women continues.
“Statistics and data that WAO and other NGOs have compiled have shown discrimination against women in child maintenance, divorce, rape and domestic violence.”
“There is also an increase in female-headed households,” she said.
In addition, the Global Gender Gap Report 2011 placed Malaysia at 115th position out of 135 countries for equality in political empowerment.