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Day 16: The Women\\\'s Agenda For Change

Posted on 10 December 2000
 

Violence Against Women on 'Women's Agenda For Change'

The Women's Agenda for Change (WAC) is a commitment towards Gender
Equality and Sustainable Equality of women and men.

WAC was born out of a meeting in 1998 by called the Women's Development Collective in the run up to elections in Malaysia. High on the agenda was to lobby for greater participation and representation of women in decision-making positions. But WAC's mandate is broader and aims to:

 

  • Raise awareness of the position of women in Malaysia.
  • Draw attention to the specific problems, issues and needs of women that should be recognized and addressed.
  • Strengthen the political voice and participation of women in Malaysia so as to promote and achieve greater gender equality.
  • Work for a just and democratic society.
  • Strengthen the network of women's organizations and NGOs in their work towards the advancement of the status of women in Malaysia.

 

In January 1999, a National Workshop on the Women's Agenda for Change was jointly organised by the Women's Development Collective, Sisters in Islam, Perastuan Sahabat Wantia and the All Women's Action Society. At this key meeting and a second National Workshop with participants from over 30 women's organisations and NGOs, 11 key issues were identified for action:

Women and Development
Women and Participatory Democracy
Women, Culture and Religion
Women and Land
Women and Health Services
Women and the Law
Women and Work
Women and AIDS
Women and the Environment
Women, Health and Sexuality
Violence Against Women

 

These issues are not exhaustive. This is your agenda and WAC encourages you to use it to lobby:

  • the government and institutions for their support in terms of policy measures and actions;
  • the politicians so that they will incorporate the issues and recommendations into their election manifesto and, indeed, if elected, their constituency programmes; and
  • the general public to raise their awareness on the issues and challenges facing women in Malaysia. (Quoted from the Women's Agenda for Change, 2000).

 

Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women results in hurt (physical and psychological), fear and insecurity, and is a major obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace. Research by WAO and Survey Research Malaysia (1992) showed that 39% of Malaysian women have been battered. Police statistics over the 1990s reveal a rise in reported rapes, and that victims are getting younger.

The Women's Agenda for Change calls for sustained ACTION against violence. Efforts to eradicate violence against women must be multi-agency, involving the all the relevant authorities (especially the police, health and welfare professionals, and the judiciary), non-governmental organisations, and government departments to provide effective protection against violence and support to victims and survivors.

 

The Women's Agenda for Change: Actions Against Violence Against Women

  • Introduce gender sensitisation training programmes in schools and the workplace to modify social and cultural patterns in the conduct of men and women so as to eliminate prejudices and all practices based on the idea of inferiority or superiority of either sex on stereotyped roles for women and men.
  • Conduct preventative education for the community to eliminate violence against women.
  • Raise awareness among young children about sexual abuse.
  • Ensure that all the One-Stop Crisis Centers established at government hospitals are provided with the necessary trained staff and funding to run effective low cost emergency and counseling services for victims of rape, domestic violence, incest and sexual abuse.
  • Support, provide and maintain well-run women's crisis shelters and counseling services.
  • Review and reform existing laws and administrative procedures pertaining to Violence Against Women to ensure that victims of violence have easy access to protection and support as envisaged in the spirit of the law. Ensure the effective implementation of all laws pertaining to violence: the Penal Code , laws related to rape, the Evidence Act and the Domestic Violence Act, 1994.
  • Formulate and implement sexual harassment policies and develop programmes and procedures to eliminate sexual harassment, especially in the workplace and educational institutions.
  • Encourage the portrayal of women in the media to represent the diversity of women and not limit the portrayal to sexist stereotypes. (the Women's Agenda for Change, Violence Against Women, 2000).

The Women's Agenda for Change is now endorsed by 76 organisations, including WAO. WAC was officially launched on the 23rd May 1999 in Kuala Lumpur. Since then, every Member of Parliament and political party has been written to, asking for an endorsement of WAC's aims. So far, the response has been poor. But WAC continues to lobby for recognition of the importance of the Women's Agenda for Change, and for the actions in all the key issue areas that are necessary for change.

Sources: The Women's Agenda for Change, 2000 website and WAO Annual Review 1999.

 

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