The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) today hit out at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for suggesting that a women’s rights movement was not necessary, pointing out that laws and policies suggest gender equality has yet to be achieved.

jag anti sexist parliament protest 150507 mca women"Laws and policies in this country currently do not reflect women’s equal access to justice.

"To this day, a Malaysian mother has no legal right to confer citizenship to her child in the event that the child is born overseas,” the coalition of NGOs said in a statement today.

"A sexual harassment Bill has yet to be tabled, and Muslim women continue to be sidelined in the continuous regressive amendments made to the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 and the corresponding Islamic Family Law Enactment of the States in Malaysia”.

The coalition also argued that according to the Global Gender Gap index, Malaysia’s ranking has declined from its overall ranking of 72 in 2006 to 97 among 134 countries in 2011.

The index takes into account gender-based disparities in economic, politics, education and health.

Moreover, the coalition pointed out there has only ever been one woman in cabinet, since 1969 till now, far short of the 30 percent indication required by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

azlanDescribing Najib’s statement as downplaying women’s suffering of violence, harassment and discrimination, the coalition urged Najib to view his women’s ministerial post seriously and to propose substantive measures with “corresponding budgetary considerations”.

On Tuesday, Najib claimed there is "no need for a women's rights movement in Malaysia" owing to the fact Malaysia has achieved better gender equality status and is even better off than many advanced nations.