KUALA LUMPUR: More women should be made ministers – this call for women’s empowerment came from none other than Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah herself.

In an impromptu speech at the 60th National Women’s Day celebration, the Queen spoke on the importance of having women’s voices heard.

“More women should be given the opportunity to contribute at the ministerial level,” the Queen said at the event held at Dewan Perdana Felda here yesterday.

Her Majesty cited current statistics showing that despite women making up nearly half of the world’s electorate, only a few were made ministers.

“Women play a crucial role in the country as peacemakers. The voice of women is something to be reckoned with.

“What’s important to me is to listen to the voice of women who are fighting for their rights,” the Queen added.

According to United Nations data on women’s leadership and political participation around the world, only 21% of government ministers are women, with only 14 countries having achieved 50% of female representation in their Cabinet.

The most commonly held portfolios include women, family, children, youth affairs; social affairs; and the environment.

Currently, only 15.6% of ministers in the Malaysian Cabinet are female while in the Dewan Rakyat, women assume only 15% of 222 seats.

Also present at yesterday’s event were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob; Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun; Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri; and National Council of Women’s Organisations Malaysia president Professor Emerita Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah.