by YB Datuk Wira Hajah Mas Ermieyati binti Samsudin, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law)
Assalamu’alaikum wabarakatuh and a very good day to all of you.
Firstly, allow me to express my gratitude to the Women’s Tribunal Steering Committee for inviting me to deliver this note. It is indeed a great pleasure to be amongst these aspiring women.
Let me congratulate the Steering Committee that is made up of 14 women’s groups, for successfully organising the first Women’s Tribunal in Malaysia. I understand that this is also the first online tribunal in the world. This initiative is innovative, creative, bold, and comes at a timely point in time, as Malaysia is scheduled to submit its report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2022.
And I must acknowledge and thank the 26 witnesses who were courageous enough to come forward to share their experiences. I admit that the emergence of the pandemic had brought challenges to these vulnerable women and something must be done to alleviate the problems that tie them.
Thank you to the judges, Mary Shanthi Dairiam, Zainah Anwar and Nadia Malyanah, who have brought in their expertise and commitment in their deliberations and the recommendations they have made today.
Women’s human rights groups in Malaysia have always worked constructively with the Government to bring about reform and policy change. The fact that we recognise gender equality in article 8 of the Federal Constitution is evidence of the Government’s commitment to make the lives of girls and women better. The two recent Federal budgets positively include additional funding for shelter space, short-term contract social workers, and the police unit that handles violence against women.
I understand that there were several compelling testimonies by women who were stalked, sexually harassed and even faced violence because of their work, identity or activism. Let me assure you that I am against violence in any form, and I am taking an interest in the anti-stalking law and a sexual harassment law. I will do my best to advocate for these laws within the Government. In addition to that, the Government is committed to introduce anti-stalking laws together with the stakeholders, with its draft and policy paper to be brought to the cabinet as early as December 2021, and to be tabled in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara early next year. I believe this law proportionately affected women and girls.
The Government is also committed to ensure that we implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in synergy and in a progressive manner. In this regard, and further also as a member of the Human Rights Council, we affirm our commitment to uphold the fundamental obligation of the State when it comes to international human rights obligations, including under the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
I look forward to receiving the findings and recommendations of this tribunal. Way forward, the Government stands ready to work with all of you regardless of background, to realise our collective vision to leave no one behind at all levels, to push the boundaries forward for women.
I also hope to see our younger generation picking up the baton so confidently, to galvanise our collective efforts towards addressing equality gaps that women in Malaysia continue to experience. Keep up the good work and thank you for your attention. I wish you a successful commemorative session.
With that, thank you.