(spread this through email, post on your blogs and facebook peeps! Let’s refuse to have leaderships that are discriminatory in any way! )
Dear Y.B Rodziah,
It was a great honour to have you officiate the “Gadis Ceria” event at Majlis Daerah Kuala Langat as well as hearing you speak so eloquently about the need to empower women and encourage the participation of women in decision making process. Sadly, Y.B in my two years’ experience in MDKL I find most of the people in decision making positions are gender biased and very patriarchal.
I would like to highlight a case in point. I sit on the interview board at the council and I find many female candidates are deliberately overlooked because of their gender. Today (8/4/2010) I sat on the interview board to interview candidates for the position of “Public Relations Assistant” or “Pembantu Penerangan”. Clearly, according to the criteria there was no special preference except for those who could read and write in their mother tongue. Out of 25 candidates, two candidates were short listed. A young woman and man who were both staff of the council. They were pretty much at the early stages of their service in MDKL.
They both performed exceptionally well in the interviews. The interview board was made up of the Council President, Administrative Officer and 3 councilors. I was the only female among them, so the gender ration was 4:1. Though there is another female councilor on this board she was not selected to attend this interview. Firstly, the girl had a good mastery of the Tamil language, had a distinction for English and a credit for Bahasa Malaysia. She was very well versed in all 3 languages. She also was very confident and displayed her capability in her interview. The male candidate was as active and capable but he didn’t have the language skills of the girl. The job scope required many language related tasks like producing the council newsletter and updating the website. She displayed obvious prowess in being able to write and speak in her mother tongue which was stated in the job advertisement.
However, when it came to the final decision the Council President made a very deliberate choice to select the male candidate because ” dia lasak dan mampu kerja malam”. Where as the other male councilor mentioned that “women could not perform such tasks”. According to the Council President, the job required the incumbent to be in the Emergency Response Unit which required them to stay out late and to be able to rough it out. I reiterated that this was not stated in the job scope and that the female candidate possessed all the requirements. To which the male councilor mentioned that there were already too many female staff in the council. My protests fell to deaf ears and I just could not believe the level of gender bias that was being displayed by all these men in positions of power. A woman lost out the opportunity for a job suited to her capabilities and qualifications because of her gender! After promoting a pro-women empowerment manifesto, it is shocking and baffling to see this happen in the progressive Pakatan led government. This young woman had been led to believe that she had a chance on a level playing field when she applied for the job. Unfortunately, she was cruelly deprived of the equal opportunity to compete for the job by men in power who were clearly prejudiced against her.
I was truly disempowered as the lone female voice among these men. I was forced into a decision which I felt was a great injustice to the young woman. I want to bring this to your attention so that matters can be rectified. I believe in your wisdom and leadership to undo this injustice.
Majlis Daerah Kuala Langat