Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

Women and Politics: Social Construction and a Policy of Deconstruction

Academic journal article Journal of Social Sciences

Women and Politics: Social Construction and a Policy of Deconstruction

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Female representation in politics is not unusual but the significance can be questionable. Women's involvement in politics has been minimal in Malaysia. The improvement in the number of female representatives over the years has been surprisingly slow. Thus the political landscape is still a man's world. Although the number of female registered voters is higher than male, women's representation in the parliament fails to reflect this societal majority. The feminist perspective argues that deterrent factors to women's active involvement are due to social construction and such a claim is supported when reviewing this phenomenon. Women are still viewed as the supportive group and unfit to lead the society. Despite the National Policy for Women that was adopted to deconstruct such double standards for women, the struggles for women in politics are tremendous. This research applies the qualitative method to examine women and politics. Secondary data is gathered to challenge the claim that the National Policy for women has empowered women in politics. This article examines the meaning of social construction and deconstruction mechanisms that are unable to boost women's participation in politics. Overall, women are certainly capable of carrying out political responsibilities but the miles to significant political participation are still far.

Keywords: Gender, Politics, Policy, Participation

1. INTRODUCTION

The struggles that occur with regard to women are everywhere in this world. Khalid (2009) argues that the forms, issues, intensities and capacities of grievances may be diverse but women are facing a constant gender struggle for equality. Approaches to encourage women's participation in politics, the economy and society involve local and international organizations. The United Nations (UN) led other organizations in recognizing women's participation by declaring the International Year of the Woman in 1975, which was known as The Mexico Declaration, proclaiming the Women's First Decade (1976-1985) as a ten year plan for a Platform of Action. Here the UN played a vital role providing avenues and strategies for women around the world to work on improving their status in society. Simultaneously with this international effort, Malaysia has adopted the UN Platform of Action by establishing its first National Policy for Women. This policy is a mechanism to channel efforts, energy and materials to not only improve women's participation but also to empower them.

This policy and its platform of action have been referred to as a guideline when assessing women's participation in all sectors including politics, the economy and society. A national policy is assumed to work with the full commitment from state and non-state actors in order to improve disadvantages pertaining to women's issues. A policy provides the vision to pursue justice and equality through fundamentally championing women's voices and actions. One such fundamental manifestation of action can be realized significantly through women's representation in parliament. The complexities of gender participation through the voices and actions of representatives in parliament are tremendous. Women must work twice as hard as men to convince central committee members in each political party to be listed as election candidates. In fact, most political parties give priority and better opportunities to male rather than female candidates. The traditional fatalistic mindset of gender stereotyping is still very present and damaging.

2. METHODOLOGY APPLICATION

This research applies a qualitative method in analyzing the issue of women's participation in politics. Secondary statistical data were gathered from the Election Commission of Malaysia, the printed document of the National Policy for Women and newspapers both printed and online for current information on the General Election of 2013. Analytical interpretation was developed utilizing these secondary data to contextualize evidence and to support the arguments on a national policy for women regarding empowerment. …

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