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CALD Womens caucus 11-14 August 2011, Malacca, Malaysia

The Women’s Caucus of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats recently held a Workshop on Strategies for Women Candidates in Melaka in Malaysia. The event was hosted by the Women’s Wing of the Gerakan Party of Malaysia, and included delegates from nine Asian countries. Apart from staff from the CALD Secretariat, and from the Thai office of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, which sponsored the event, the only men present were CALD Secretary General Neric Acosta of the Philippines and myself as CALD Chair.

Having missed the last meeting of the Women’s Caucus, I thought I should find out more about it since by next year I shall no longer be CALD chair and hence not eligible to attend. I was duly impressed, by the energy and commitment of all the delegates, and realized again the importance of ensuring a significant space for female participation in politics.

I should note that I was also enthralled, having attended a predominantly female event for the first time in nearly half a century. As a child I had attended a few guide camps with my mother, and found the evening conviviality fascinating, camp fire items, singing and dancing that bonded in a much more affectionate way than in similar gatherings for men only. In Melaka, at the grand dinner hosted by the Gerakan Party, at a centre for Babas and Nonyas, the descendants of Chinese and then European sailors who had found local wives over the centuries, the host was a jolly old Chinese gentleman dressed as a woman. He had an enormous repertoire of songs, including Sinhalese ones, and was accompanied by a two man band that went back to the days of Englebert Humperdinck. The elegant dancing of the distinguished women present was a joy to watch.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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