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Call to bring back Special Select Committee on Gender Equality, Family Development

29 Aug 2020 / 15:28 H.

PETALING JAYA: A Special Select Committee on Gender Equality and Family Development should be considered a frontline select committee and should be brought back, two MPs said today.

In a joint statement, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Merbok MP Nurin Aina said groups such as the elderly are particularly vulnerable and in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, these groups are even more exposed.

“The last day of Parliament saw the announcement of the much awaited establishment of eight parliamentary select committees; key entities in a fully functioning parliamentary democracy.

“However, we are disappointed to note the absence of a Special Select Committee on Gender Equality and Family Development,” they said.

A report published this month by Unicef and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) titled “Families on the Edge” looked at 500 families, including 20% that have female heads of households in PPRs in KL, to determine the impact of the movement control order (MCO).

The report showed that women and children were disproportionately affected by the pandemic; the median household income in June 2020 for female heads of households fell to RM675.

Some 50% think their financial situation will get worse, while 42% of all households and 56% of female heads of households are devoid of equipment such as computers for online learning.

“It also raises questions on the level of adequate assistance provided by the government as 40% of all households and 45% of female heads of households did not find the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) as the most useful aid to meet their needs.

“The resurgence of a the Special Select Committee on Gender Equality and Family Development, then helmed by Nurin Aina, will help shed light on detailing the needs of women and children; beginning with a thorough study of the Unicef and the UNFPA report,” said the MPs.

They said the Special Select Committee was made up of a bi-partisan group of representatives from PKR, DAP, Umno, and PAS.

“Leveraging on their mandate to call in officials and experts to investigate the issues in depth, they scrutinised and improved government policies such as the Sexual Harassment and Gender Equality Bill.

The Committee was also in the process of enacting a Gender Equality Assessment of Parliament - a needed guide for our August House,” they added.

The efforts of the former Select Committee were curtailed however, with the change of government in March.

“While the government is able to suggest the creation of Special Select Committees, it ultimately falls on the Speaker to finalise as it is a function formed specifically by Parliament.

“We therefore urge the Speaker to maintain the Special Select Committee on Gender Equality and Family Development to ensure policies and legislation are adequately scrutinised so that they are able to serve all the rakyat without leaving anyone behind,” they added.

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