Malaysia: NGO wants more Orang Asal women in public life


    Malaysia was ranked second lowest for women’s representation in Parliament in South East Asia at 10.81 per cent , just above Myanmar.

    KUCHING: Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), in conjunction with International Women’s Day on Tuesday, has called for equitable representation of Orang Asal women in politics.

    “Unfortunately, despite the pivotal role of indigenous or Orang Asal women within their communities, they were under-represented in politics in Malaysia,” said Anne Lasimbang, on behalf of JOAS.

    She’s also PACOS Trust Executive Director and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Regional Women’s representative.

    After Malaysia’s 13th General Election, recalled Lasimbang, Malaysia was ranked second lowest for women’s representation in Parliament in South East Asia at 10.81 per cent, just above Myanmar. “We support the call from various sectors for 30 per cent women’s representatives in Parliament.”

    “We challenge ourselves, indigenous grassroots organizations, and we challenge existing political parties to ensure the representations of indigenous women within that 30 per cent, not just in Parliament, but also within our state legislative assemblies and our local councils.”

    The call for Orang Asal women representation echoes AIPP’s statement which called on States, civil society and indigenous communities to implement seven recommendations. They include securing of full and effective participation, as well as equitable representation of indigenous women in decision-making bodies and processes that affect their rights as indigenous peoples and as women.

    Lasimbang quoted AIPP Secretary-General Joan Carling as saying: “In most indigenous communities, it’s the women who serve as primary caregivers to children, elderly family members and the sick.”

    “It’s the women who are the holders and teachers of the traditional knowledge passed down through generations.”

    Carling also pointed out, said Lasimbang, that indigenous women are the main food producers and managers of their natural resources. “It’s the women who have the knowledge to strengthen their community’s resilience to the devastating effects of climate change.”