The Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee’s Gender Equality and Diversity Committee is appalled by the recent messaging posted by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development on their “Kebahagiaan Rumahtangga” series. Instead of carrying out the purpose and role in empowering our women, the messaging supports gender inequality and robs our women of their basic human right to be treated equal in our society.
The posters depict negative gender stereotypes against our women and men. It portrays that our women alone, are responsible for the daily domestic chores in a household. It suggests that women need to be calm and patient when faced with verbal and emotional abuse. It implies that women are naggers and are the ones that must take proactive steps to breathe and become calm and rational, not to mention the use of words and gestures purportedly to pamper and pacify our men. It illustrates men being nonchalant and ignorant about their role as equal partners and more so that men can choose whether they wish to participate in their relationship and household chores, if coaxed gently. All in all, the posters place our women in a subordinate position beneath their male spouses. It also chooses to ignore the serious issue of domestic violence that many of our women face, more so during the MCO.
Gender equality is a fundamental human right that is essential for the sustainable development of our country. Empowering our women spurs productivity and economic growth. Language plays a vital role in shaping cultural and social attitudes towards promoting gender equality and eradicating gender bias.
Sadly, the language and images used by our Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development is far from gender neutral. It does not have the best interest of our women at heart. It fails to see both men and women as equal partners. The negative messaging shows an unconscious bias mindset of the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development which puts our women at the lower end of society. This way of thinking does not promote growth and development of a healthy future society, instead it is the root of gender inequality and breeds discrimination and violence against women. In short, the Minister of the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development has failed us.
We, the Kuala Lumpur Bar, therefore call upon the Minister of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, YB Rina Harun to step down. We also urge the government of the day to take steps to reform this Ministry to ensure that the interests of our women and girls are protected.