Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dr Mariah on women, equal opportunity and sex education

Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud is member of parliament for Kota Raja, Selangor and an Exco member of PAS's Muslimat Wing. A medical doctor by profession, Dr Mariah has called for a more systematic approach in combating social ills such as drug/alcohol addiction and domestic violence, as well as advocating for gender equality and public awareness of reproductive health. She recently spoke to the Bangkok-based Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development.

How many female Parliamentarians are there in Malaysia?

About 10%. But from my party, it is the first time women parliamentarians were elected. There are three MPs elected for the Islamic Party (PAS.)

You seem to feel very strongly about the issue of gender equality. What are the biggest barriers to the realization of gender equality in Malaysia?

I think basically if you ask people in Malaysia their general perception we are nearly equal. But we still have problems with the implementation because the mindset of many are still within the old framework. They ask what else do women want in Malaysia?

We have equal opportunities in education - and yes nearly 70% of our students in the universities are women, are girls, but when people talk about equality they forgot that we cannot measure equality in terms of equal opportunities for men and women only.

Women should receive the understanding from society and government that for women to achieve, society and government will have to acknowledge that women have more hurdles to overcome.

Women have biologically different functions and hence responsibilities. These differences in certain ways dampen the advancement of women. They may be capable intellectually but family commitments tend to slow them down... Read More

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