Published on: Monday, August 26, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the Government will review the proposal to widen the service coverage of the Sabah Women's Affairs Department (JHEWA) to the rural areas in stages.
"We will check out the situation in studying the need for such move," he said, when met at the lunch gathering hosted by him for members of the Ex-Sabah Collegians Association (OSCA)(1987) at Sri Gaya, Sunday.
The proposal was made by then Minister of Community Development and Consumer Services, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun, who said if possible it would begin with the Sandakan region and then Tawau. At the MPWS 20th anniversary celebration in 2008, she had agreed with the Council that it was high time to extend JHEWA's service delivery system to target groups in the rural areas.
JHEWA is the implementing agency of the Sabah Women's Advisory Council (MPWS).
Congratulating MPWS and JHEWA on their 25th anniversary today (Monday), Musa said : "Twenty-five years of good work. Keep it up.
We (Government) will not hesitate to take note of MPWS's views, requests or recommendations, and duly consider if these are necessary and for the good of Sabah and her People."
The CM noted that MPWS has been championing a good cause for women's development and progress in the State. "There was justification to continue the good work of the Council for the people, especially for the women, although it was initiated by the previous Government," he said.
He was commenting on the Founder of MPWS, Datuk Ariah Tengku Ahmad's statement that he (Musa) had not only recognised the contributions of the Council and accepted its work but also taken a step further to put up a building (Wisma Wanita) which now houses JHEWA and a number of women's organisations.
Asked on the one-time speculation that the State Barisan Nasional (BN) Government might do away with MPWS when it came to power in 1994, the CM said:
"If its role and functions are beneficial to the people, especially the womenfolk, of course, I support. Then I gave them (MPWS & JHEWA) a building." In fact, he upgraded the then Sabah Women's Affairs Unit (UHEWA) to the status of a department (JHEWA) in 2003.
MPWS was created as an advisory and consultative body to the State Government on women's issues. It is a "think tank" and a catalyst for women's development in Sabah. Its members are appointed for a two-year term upon the recommendation of JHEWA.
Then Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (now Tan Sri) officially launched the Council on August 26, 1988. The Founder Chairperson is Datuk Adeline Leong, followed by Datuk Noni J. Said, Datuk Rita T. Jaafar, Datuk Asnimar Sukardi and now Datuk Mariati Robert.
Meanwhile, Mariati, who was re-appointed for a second consecutive term earlier this year, assured that the Council will continue to focus on the aspirations and needs of rural women towards bridging the socio-economic gap between urban women and their rural sisters.
In another development, Director of JHEWA, Datuk Siti Sapoo Ahok said some 20 government officers have so far been trained to be Gender Focal Points (GFPs) in ministries, departments and agencies to facilitate gender mainstreaming.
"They will be appointed as GFPs to ensure that gender equality is put in place within all ministries, department and agencies. Gender mainstreaming means the equal participation of men and women in the decision-making process, and ensuring that both genders (men and women) have equal access to resources and benefit from development programmes implemented by the Government," she explained.
JHEWA had earlier been allocated a sum of RM100,000 to get the Gender Expert Group project off the ground under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).
Promoting gender equality and empowering women is the Third Goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2000.
Malaysia and Sabah have adopted these MDGs.