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PKR: Clearer policy needed on gender representation

KUALA LUMPUR, 16 June 2009: The women’s wing of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) wants Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to come up with a clearer national women’s policy on gender representation.

“This issue needs political will. We want to see that from the government,” PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin said at a press conference in the Parliament lobby today.

Zuraida expressed disappointment that the government had yet to commit to ensuring more equitable representation of women in leadership positions.

In contrast, Zuraida said PKR had amended its constitution so that 30% of party leadership positions were reserved for women. The amendment was one among several passed at the party’s special congress on 13 June.

“For the past 10 years, PKR Wanita has been struggling for this. Now, we have achieved it,” Zuraida said.

“We are preparing ourselves to take over the government. We are ready with all these structures, to show that we are committed to the issue, and have the political will,” she added.

(Seated, from left) Former Wanita PKR chief Fuziah Salleh; current chief Zuraida Kamaruddin;
and Selangor Wanita PKR chief Haniza Talha

However, when asked how the party would fulfil its 30% quota, Zuraida admitted that PKR did not yet have sufficient numbers of capable women leaders.

“We are responsible for helping our women to become women of quality,” she said. “This is so that women leaders in PKR are not just filling up the space provided by the quota.”

She stressed that it was the responsibility of everyone in PKR, not only its women’s wing, to get women into the party’s leadership. She was, however, short on how this would be done within PKR.

She said some male party members had even suggested, during the special party congress, raising the quota for women in leadership positions in the party to 50%.

“The next step is to move out of the party, to educate the masses on women’s participation,” Zuraida said, noting that 52% of voters were women.

“They need to be part of the decision-making process, because only women can express problems that affect women,” Zuraida explained. “We have to educate the people on this basic principle.”

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