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DAP's Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud says females all the world are given more and more leadership opportunities, and it is our job to educate the people and prove that we, too, have remarkable women in our country. — TRP file pic
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KUALA LUMPUR, July 15:
Former Teluk Intan DAP by-election candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud is urging those in power not to have cavemen mentality and deny women the opportunity and right to hold a leadership position in government.
She said they must instead maximise the potential of women in this country and not belittle them and reveal shallow sexism in the process.
Dyana Sofya made the statement after it emerged that Umno lawyer Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun said a woman would find it tough to hold the post of Selangor Menteri Besar because her menstrual cycle would prevent her from attending religious events during “that time of the month”.
This was published in an article by the New Straits Times today, linking to rumours that there might be a push to make Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the next Selangor MB.
Citing three-term Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as an example, she said these remarkable women would never have risen to the positions if their citizens had the same mental capacity of Mohd Hafarizam.
“All over the world, females are given more and more leadership opportunities, and it is our job to educate the people and prove that we, too, have remarkable women in our country.
“Sadly in Malaysia, and in 2014, we still have leaders who think having menses is a handicap that disqualifies women from being a head of government,” said Dyana, who is also political secretary to Gelang Patah Member of Parliament Lim Kit Siang.
She added that for Mohd Hafarizam to make such a remark was proof that Umno had failed to promote women in politics.
“It is precisely this sort of negative attitude by those in power that has constantly robbed women of opportunities to lead in this nation,” said Dyana.
At the same time, Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) president Janarthani Arumugam demanded Mohd Hafarizam retract the statement and to apologise immediately.
Janarthani expressed shock at what she described as a sexist, distasteful and disrespectful comment and a behaviour that was not the Malaysian culture
“Even worse, his statement was concurred by Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, a lecturer from UIA who added fuel to sexism by saying that perhaps Selangor was not ready for a female Menteri Besar,” she said, adding that Dr Shamrahayu should also take back his words and apologise.
Dr Shamrahayu, in the same article by the NST, had concurred with Mohd Hafarizam’s comments saying that in terms of practicality, a female MB may face difficulties when escorting the Selangor Sultan for formal occasions as they have to sit separately, in observing formalities.
Janarthani said such misogynistic (the hatred or dislike of women) comments reflects sexist prejudices and a patriarchal ideology which form the basis for discrimination against females in the society.
“We would have thought that in this millennium, with women leaders and politicians in our midst, we would have moved towards a more inclusive, responsive and non-discriminatory society.”
She said Selangor folk would choose another person as Menteri Besar if they were not happy and it would not be based on biological make-up, sexism and discriminatory criteria but on principles, merits, effectiveness and responsiveness towards voters’ interests.