We need more women in politics, says Chong Eng

MORE female representation in politics is crucial so that gender and women’s issues can be taken to the forefront of policymaking, says Penang executive councillor Chong Eng.


Chong Eng, who is in charge of Social Development and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs, said there are not enough women representatives in politics nowadays even though the country’s population has reached 50:50 ratio for men and women.


“As a matter of fact, only 14.9% of the Members of Parliament are women and 15% of our state representatives are women.

Chong Eng said there are not enough women representatives in politics nowadays even though the country’s population has reached 50:50 ratio for men and women.

“Thus, much needs to be done to encourage women to venture into politics so that their voices can be heard.


“In Penang itself, we are doing slightly better now compared with other states with many initiatives introduced by the state government towards promoting gender equality and encouraging women to join politics.


“This includes a mock assembly for women participants only. The state government also has adopted a gender inclusive policy for its agencies and departments with a ratio of 40:40:20, which is 40% women, 40% men and 20% both women and men.


“After all, we wanted to create an equal opportunity for both genders as well as to include both women and men’s perspective during a decision making,” said Chong Eng during an exclusive dialogue regarding ‘Women in Politics’ that was organised by the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) via Zoom on Nov 11.


The online dialogue session also featured Iceland’s youngest female minister, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir.


Chong Eng said there are many obstacles that prevent women from venturing into politics in the country.


“Among them are the people’s perception that they are incapable of much bigger roles and responsibilities, family commitment, carrier commitment and many others.


“And these kinds of circumstances make it harder for women to get involved in politics.


“However, recently I noticed that there are many young women who are starting to become active in politics by joining political parties.


“In my own party as an example, I can see that there are many younger women now. That is good for us as we can expose them to the roles of elected representatives and political arena.


“After all, our young women need to be brave and courageous to speak up their mind and they should highly consider to join politics so that we can have enough women representatives at the higher level to participate in the policy making that can benefit both women and men,” she added.


Meanwhile, Áslaug also shared her experiences of being appointed as Iceland Justice Minister at such a young age and as a woman.

Iceland’s youngest female minister, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir.

“When I became Iceland youngest female minister when I was 28 in 2019, there were of course some people who said and thought that I am too young and inexperienced to hold such an important role and thus incapable of doing my job as a minister effectively.


“But I managed to prove them wrong with my work qualities and policies implemented under the ministry.


“So, my best advice to the women out there who wanted to be involved in politics but afraid to do so due to such circumstances that I described, just ignore them and just focus on your role, and you will do just fine.


“Don’t be afraid to take on bigger roles such as contesting to become an elected representative. You will always learn during the process. If you don’t get the role or fail, don’t ever give up as you will still learn something valuable during the process.


“As long as you have a clear conscience on what you wanted to do when you decided to join politics, just go for it no matter what the people said because in the end, it will be worth it,” she added.


Also present during the online dialogue session were state Agrotech and Food Security, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin and PWDC chief executive officer Ong Bee Leng.

Story by Riadz Akmal
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi