One would be hard pressed to find a more formidable image of a woman fighting for the rights of Malaysian women than that of the late Tan Sri Napsiah Omar as she stood her ground when confronted by naysayers in the corridors of the Parliament building.
The year was 1994, and Tan Sri Napsiah was about to enter the hall to push forward the Domestic Violence Act, a legislation that took almost 10 years of campaigning to bring protection to survivors of domestic violence. Despite the continuous patriarchal pressure, she persevered – and minutes before midnight, it all came into fruition: The Domestic Violence Act was finally passed, and with it, protection and justice for victims of domestic physical, mental and emotional abuse and anguish.
Sisters in Islam (SIS) is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tan Sri Napsiah Omar. A strong advocate of women’s rights, an inspirational role model of women in politics, and an important supporter in the establishment of SIS, Tan Sri Napsiah will fondly be remembered for her gentle nature, the immense love she had for her country, but most of all, her determination in forwarding the causes closest to heart.
As the Minister of National Unity and Social Development, Tan Sri Napsiah Omar led a strong voice amongst the Asia and Pacific ministers, raising her concerns for and calling for the equal treatment of women and men in the run-up towards the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. She championed the need to imbibe democratic values and principles within family relationships, gave attention to the vulnerability of women in the HIV/AIDS pandemic and called for Asia Pacific governments to ensure that women’s interests are safeguarded at all times.
She was also a strong advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in her role as the chairperson of the National Population and Family Development Board.
Tan Sri Napsiah is also remembered for her deep concern for the participation of female undergraduates in public universities particularly in the areas of science, engineering, and medicine.
Sisters in Islam
16 April 2018