What makes a woman a woman in Malaysia? Malaysian woman be a woman when they master all the household works such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of children and more. Even though most of women nowadays see education and work are more important than other, but a woman still has to know all the household tricks. Based on one of the most reliable local newspapers in Malaysia, ‘Utusan Malaysia’ (which means Malaysia Messenger), there is one article entitled 10 interesting characteristics of Malaysian women written by Meran Abu Bakar. This research had been done by Universal Network International collaborated with Synovate who interested to know more about women in Malaysia. They concluded that a woman is a woman when they can balance both career work and housework in their life. Their survey statistics showed that 47 percent of women in Malaysia are working while they can still be taking a good care of their house condition (Utusan Online, 2011). Since women tend to shop many things compared to men, so they have to be independent without hoping money from husband or boyfriend. My grandmother, who is a Malaysian said that what makes a Malaysian woman a woman is that when they are courteous and do not have any manly attitude. To support this statement, I will quote and translate one of the paragraphs from a book named ‘Keluarga dan Pemodenan di Malaysia’ (which means Family and Modernization in Malaysia) by Fatimah Abdullah. She described that:
“Malaysian society look up to Malaysian women who have high moral values, courteous, and gentle” (Fatimah Abdullah, n.d.).
“… Plus, women with manly attitude is not preferable and hard to attract the men since that characteristic is not suitable as women who eventually will be a wife and mother” (Fatimah Abdullah, n.d.).
In this book, the author also mentioned about women should master the housework in despite of how busy they would be with their career work.
Moving on to the next questions, how are women and girls treated in Malaysia? From my point of view, the answer might be just the same with the women from other countries. Society put men position higher than women. However, the women still be treated nicely. Based on the UNICEF website, there are surveys about how women treated in Malaysia (UNICEF, 2015). They said that men’s status and position in Malaysia is higher than women. Next, most of the answers lead that women and men do not share equal responsibility at home as most of the women are responsible for that. Since women are defined as gentle human being, the society does not harm women in any ways. Next, are women in Malaysia educated? Do they work outside the home? Yes. From UNICEF website, the percentage of women who attend school is actually higher than the percentage of men (UNICEF, 2013). Even though women role in Malaysia mostly focused at home, but in this millennial age, women are independent and choose to work and follow their dream path after graduated. Referring to another local newspaper in Malaysia, Star Online, there is an article entitled “Women in Malaysia More Empowered Today”. In this article, the author provided a statistic of working women in Malaysia nowadays which is 54 percent.
“Statistically, 54% of Malaysian women are working…” (The Star Online, 2017).
There are also statements regarding women in Malaysia are more educated.
“A report authored by Penang Institute in 2016 found that the difference between men and women in public universities as favor in women increased from 67,734 to 86,798 from 2009 to 2013” (The Star Online, 2017).
“45% of engineering graduates are women compared to 17% in United States” (The Star Online, 2017).
Last but not least, talking about rite of passage in Malaysia, Malaysian women also experienced puberty which is experiencing period as they grow up. Living away from family is not a shocking passage in Malaysia perspectives. However, as they getting married and living away with the new family is a one of the signs of growing up as women since one’s family cannot leave their daughter to other people easily until they are marrying someone. Nevertheless, different family undergo different rite of passages depend on their incomes, religions and social status (Dr Azhari Karim, 2016). As Malaysia is a multiracial country, therefore it varies from one to another.
Dr Azhari Karim. (2016). Rite of Passage. New Strait Times. Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/04/139805/rite-passage
Fatimah Abdullah. (n.d). Keluarga dan Pemodenan di Malaysia. Google Book. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/booksid=gWdWCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA274&lpg=PA274&dq=wanita+melayu+tradisional&source=bl&ots=LrFe9mOZP6&sig=Iri1E5r7zpMSGvbRVzTymE896F4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiWwrjespvcAhWE7YMKHdHUCFc4ChDoAQgwMAI#v=onepage&q=wanita%20melayu%20tradisional&f=false
The Star Online. (2017). Women in Malaysia More Empowered Today. The Star Online. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/10/07/women-in-malaysia-more-empowered-today/
UNICEF. (2015). Gender equality In Malaysia – Fact or Fiction? Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/media_features2015-gender-equality-in-malaysia-fact-or-fiction.html#. W0kgpdJKg2w
UNICEF. (2013). Malaysia Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/malaysia_statistics.html
Utusan Online. (2011). 10 Ciri Menarik Wanita Malaysia. Utusan Online. Retrieved from http://ww1.utusan.com.my/utusan/info.asp?y=2011&dt=1115&pub=Utusan_Malaysia&sec =Feminin&pg=fe_01.htm