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10 Malaysian Women On The Importance Of International Women’s Day

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DATIN PADUKA MARINA MAHATHIR

Social activist

How much progress have we made as a society, in terms of giving women equal rights, opportunities, and representation in the government?

We’ve made progress, but we have to take a closer look at the gender quota of our government. Malaysian female politicians are not vocal enough when it comes to fighting for more representation. Women politicians shouldn’t be shy to question [their male counterparts] and assume they are there because they are good at what they do.

Should female politicians be more aggressive?

Yes, they are the path-breakers, setting a precedent for the rest of us. They have to understand that other female Malaysians are watching. They have to be role models. I’m tired of hearing the phrase, “I don’t want to be seen as a woman.” You will always be seen as one. Yes, you have to work doubly hard, but once you are in the position, it’s a responsibility. You have to say, I want to make a difference.  

Why is it important that women and youth have a voice here in Malaysia?

For one, it is not heard enough. When you look at diversity in Malaysia, all everyone talks about is race. We also have to think about gender, age, class—diversity is everything. It’s about young women from different walks of life, different communities, and also intersexuality. I am a Malay woman, but I’m different from a young Malay woman who is struggling to get by, but it doesn’t mean her views are no less important. We need to make sure this intersexuality is understood and catered for. We need to stop thinking in little boxes, because that’s what everyone does.

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