Press Release – For Immediate Publication
Kuala Lumpur, 10th March 2023
RISE AND RESIST
Women’s March Malaysia calls for all of us to Rise and Resist and march to demand for our rights in honour of International Women’s Day. This year, we will be marching again for the first time since 2020. We will be marching on the 12th of March, from SOGO at 10 a.m. to Dataran Merdeka with placards, nine demands and enthusiasm for justice and change, while observing all safety measures and protocols in line with the Covid-19 guidelines. Our aim is to bring together people from all walks of life to call for gender equality, justice and an end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
The International Women’s Day which falls annually on March 8, first began in the early 20th century. Originating from labor movements and spurred on by the universal female suffrage movement. Today, the IWD continues to bring attention to gender equality issues such as gender-based violence, hate speech, and other forms of oppression against women. Several decades on we continue to march, raise our voices, and demand change. We refuse to be silenced or marginalized.
In 2023, we will rise and resist, and rest no longer until we see the changes that were not only promised to us but that uphold all human rights as well as women’s human rights!
- Protect bodily autonomy and the freedom of choice
- Ban child marriages NOW!
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all oppressed genders & sexual minorities
- Create a social protection system for all oppressed genders
- Ensure safe and accessible public spaces for oppressed genders
- Enact constitutional and legislative reform to achieve gender equality
- Equal political participation of oppressed genders at all levels of governance
- Ensure decent work standards and living wage
- Declare climate crisis and create a national action plan
In the last 3 years, there has been a resounding lack of movement by our government to protect and preserve the rights of women and other marginalised genders. These demands translate to the urgent need for more progress towards achieving gender equality in this country. While there are some promising developments in legislation and discourse around these demands, it is not enough. Significant progress is still needed.
Just in the past month, we have witnessed the importance government officials had placed upon dress codes over the safety and well-being of our women and girls. This was followed by statements from those who are considered to be the representatives of the people to objectify women by comparing them to exposed items that are considered to be fake. This signals the continuous culture of misogyny that is alive and well in Malaysia and the imposition of it through the actions of policing and violating our bodily autonomy. Freedom of choice together with their childhood has also been taken away from so many young girls because of the failure of our government to ban child marriage. Girls are NOT brides and we need child marriages banned NOW! We are also seeing headlines after headlines of violence against women both online and offline from the increase of domestic violence cases during the pandemic to non-consensual dissemination of intimate images as well as the violation of the privacy of many from the oppressed genders. V2K was exposed in 2020 and we see minimal to no progress in the victims of the incident or similar incidents getting any justice, nor of legislative reforms being made to protect us in digital spaces.
Gender has always been an element in the violation of human rights along with other intersectional identities that make the oppressed gender and sexual minorities vulnerable to the violence of all forms. We have witnessed the worst of these violations of human rights from the right to exist in public spaces for oppressed genders being taken away from them and to having them denied instrumental accesses such as access to health care services, education, information and justice. This signals a desperate need for the enactment of constitutional and legislative reform to achieve gender equality, especially since the current government had included eliminating gender inequality in their manifestos. The progress towards a Malaysia without gender inequality starts with the voices of the oppressed being heard in the first place. This requires them to have seats at the tables where decisions are being made. Despite the push for 30% women representation in political candidates in the previous general elections, we have also witnessed all parties failing to reach the minimum 30% of women representation. More efforts needed to be made to shape an inclusive governance that addresses the concerns of all oppressed genders and upholds human rights standards.
Decent work standards and living wages need to be prioritised given the high cost of living and the existence of the poor. Similarly, the climate crisis needs to be declared immediately to be addressed effectively. While these two issues affect us all Malaysians, it impacts people of oppressed genders disproportionately due to lacking privilege and resources in a patriarchal-capitalist system to combat its drastic effects. There is a clear lack of gender-informed media coverage, strategies and solutions to climate impacts, which is crucial to raise societal awareness, allocate support and hold those in power accountable for the impending climate crisis.
So this coming 12th of March 2023, we encourage everyone who wants to see gender equality and human rights being upheld in Malaysia, join us at the march. It is time we make our demands heard again. We need a Malaysia that would protect us all better. Be as vocal and as visible as you can to call upon the government to hear us, the people we have chosen to serve us, the rakyat. Join us this Sunday at 10 a.m. as we march from Sogo Kuala Lumpur and bring your placards along. Kind reminder to observe the Covid-19 SOPs as well as our events. Let us all safely demand our rights be upheld.
Women’s March Malaysia 2023