27 November 2012

Today we are about to witness a bill that will be introduced to bar legislators from making sexist remarks during parliamentary proceedings.

This conscientization strategy includes a punitive element and is hoped to increase sensitivity to gender-insensitive remarks and behavior.

It’s just rather alarming to note the need to specify sexism as offensive behavior instead of expecting MPs to know better.

Nonetheless, it is a positive step forward and is hoped to draw attention to the unacceptabiity of offensive behavior.

But in meeting such objectives, I believe that we must view policies in a more holistic manner.

As such, I applaud YB Teo Nie Ching’s initiative as it brings home the plight of mothers in Malaysia.

In 2009 I gave birth to little Harith. The very same year I made an application to parliament for a breast-feeding room – for the use of all nursing mothers working in parliament.

Unfortunately, the room was not equipped with a crèche nor the necessary parliamentary standing orders that allow children in the vicinity of parliament.

I believe the first step is for all governments – state and federal – to set up a breast-feeding room fully equipped with a crèche to accommodate nursing mothers. Such showcase of political will goes a long way in sending a message that our government is one that is mother-friendly and concerned with nurturing the child.

Nurul Izzah Anwar
Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai
Vice President of Keadilan