The Joint Action Group on Gender Equality (JAG) expresses our concern over the minimal representation of women in government committees and councils set up by Pakatan Harapan.
Yet again, Pakatan Harapan has neglected to fulfill its commitment to ensure that women make up a minimum of 30% of all policymaking positions. Of the 11 policy advisory councils or committees formed by the Pakatan Harapan government, only three have at least 30% representation, and two have no women at all.
As women make up over 50% of the country’s population, an ample number of women are both qualified and willing to take up such positions. The low representation of women on the committees and councils raises questions if the best candidates were selected for these important positions.
Ensuring that women make up at least 30% of the committees and councils will help ensure that top talent is not overlooked and that more inclusive policy recommendations are made. We should be aiming for equal (50%) and diverse representation.
The table below shows the percentage of women representation in policy advisory councils and committees that has been formed under the Pakatan Harapan government:
Committee / Council
Number of women
Minister in charge
National Education Policy Committee
Independent Committee on Foreign Worker Management
Human resources minister
Public Finance Committee
Tax Reform Committee
National Education Advisory Council
National Agriculture Advisory Council
(more appointments to be made)
Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry
Council of Eminent Persons
Institutional Reforms Committee
Prime minister. Appointed by CEP.
Foreign policy advisory council
CEP Working Group on Islamic Institutions and Education Reform
Prime minister. Appointed by CEP.
Electoral Reform Committee
(8 more to be appointed)
Table: Women representation in policy advisory councils/committees formed by the Pakatan Harapan government
In order to rectify this lack of representation, JAG urges the following:
For ministries that have already set up committees or councils
If women make up less than 30% of members of the committees/councils, appoint more women to meet the 30% minimum threshold.
For ministries that will be setting up committees or councils
Define clear terms of references and adopt a transparent selection process to ensure that the best and representative talent is appointed. This includes a selection criteria and an open process where those qualified may apply or be nominated.
Ensure at least 30% of committee/council members are women, and aim for equal and diverse (50%) representation.
For individuals (including civil society, academics, government representatives) appointed to committees or councils
Prior to accepting positions, ensure at least 30% of members are women. Where this is not met, we urge all male appointees to reject appointments. We urge those who have already accepted positions to do the same.
The prime minister, in his recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said, “The new Malaysia will firmly espouse the principles promoted by the UN in our international engagements. These include the principles of truth, human rights, the rule of law, justice, fairness, responsibility and accountability, as well as sustainability”.
Women empowerment was also on the agenda of the Prime Minister’s recent 11th Malaysia Plan mid-term review.
As such, no justification is acceptable in any continuing failure to implement the commitments made, including in implementing the Cedaw Committee’s concluding observations (69th session, March 2018) which requires Malaysia to increase participation of women in decision-making positions in the political and public spheres.
We urge the Pakatan Harapan government to make good on its promise to uphold the principles of inclusion, representation and substantive equality for all.
Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:
All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
Perak Women for Women (PWW)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (Sawo)
Sisters in Islam
Women’s Aid Organisation
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC Penang)