Wan Azizah: Comprehensive support system empowers women

Wan Azizah: Comprehensive support system empowers women

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ( said a comprehensive support system should be drawn up to help empower women in the economic, social and political spheres.

Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said women’s development and empowerment agenda would not be effective if there were no awareness, support and inclusive participation of all parties in creating a balanced environment for women’s well-being.

“Women’s development programmes in today’s fast-paced global environment cannot be carried out in isolation. It requires collaboration among all parties to enable the skills of various sectors to be combined to produce more impactful programmes,“ she told Bernama in conjunction with the International Women’s Day 2019 celebration, themed #BalanceforBetter, today.

Wan Azizah said a comprehensive support system was crucial in addressing women-related challenges including the percentage of women in the workforce as well as the incidents of crime and abuse.

She said although 15.8 million of the country’s 32.6 million population were women, their participation in the labour force was still lagging behind the men.

“Although women’s enrolment in tertiary education is higher at 48.3% than the men’s at 38.%, women represent only 54.7% of the total workforce in Malaysia compared to the men at 80.1%.

“According to statistics, women also receive wages and salaries less than men. So, more productive efforts need to be taken to ensure that women in the workforce are treated equally with men,“ she said.

Wan Azizah said the government was targeting to increase women’s labour force participation to 56.5% by 2020.

She said a study found that there were several factors that encouraged women to leave their career, including marriage and childcare, gender and salary discrimination, as well as sexual harassment.

“In order to address the issue, the Career Comeback Programme (CCP) is one of the initiatives that have been carried out to ensure women return to work. Therefore, I encourage all parties involved to play a role in assisting programmes and activities to encourage more women to join the job market,“ she added.

Meanwhile, Wan Azizah said all parties needed to assist the government in its efforts to prepare a sexual harassment bill to protect women.

She said the negative effects and trauma experienced by victims of sexual harassment could cause unstable behaviour and emotions that could lead to a decline in work performance, marital problems and depression.

Women should always deepen their knowledge including understanding the legal provisions relating to the rights of women in this country, she said.

“Women need to be brave in achieving self-empowerment. Women should dare to express their rights, especially when they are being manipulated, roughed up or abused by anyone, at any place and in any situation.

“This is in line with the #MeToo campaign worldwide to provide psychological strength for women to come forward,“ she said.

For that purpose, she said the ministry through the Women’s Development Department had taken the initiative of planning several programmes to empower women.

“At the same time, efforts have been made to educate all groups in society to respect and appreciate women, including through the legal aid clinics, DeStress Clinic, Women’s Anti-Crime (WAJA) programme and campaign to curb violence against women,” she said.

From the legislative aspect, Wan Azizah said there were laws protecting women and children including the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2017 and Child Act 2001.

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