More work needed to bridge gender divide in Malaysia - Nurul Izzah
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has made progress in increasing female enrolment in universities, but more work is needed to bridge the gender divide, said Co-Head, Secretariat for the Advisory Committee to the Finance Minister, Nurul Izzah Anwar.
To tackle this issue, the Malaysian government, under the Madani Economy framework, aimed to raise the female labour force participation rate to 60 per cent, bringing it in line with regional counterparts, she said.
"Notably, female graduates make up 54.2 per cent of the unemployed, compared to 45.8 per cent for males.
"The government has also taken steps to support women returning to work after childbirth," she said during a fireside chat on the 'Madani Economy' during the Khazanah Megatrends Forum this week.
The discussion featured Investment, Trade and Industry (Miti) Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz and Economist and Committee Member of the Advisory Committee to the Finance Ministry Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi.
In the 2023 budget, RM290 million was allocated to provide grants equal to 80 per cent of the Social Security Organisation's (Socso) contributors' salaries, benefiting over 130,000 women.
"Creating childcare facilities at workplaces is another vital initiative to empower women to rejoin the workforce.
"I commend the Selangor and Penang state governments for launching childcare facility programmes.
"Moreover, the government has introduced a grant scheme for the private sector to establish workplace childcare centres.
"Plans to streamline registration processes and expand the childcare centre and nursery whitelisting programme nationwide with an RM10 million allocation have been announced," she added.
On the informal sector, Nurul Izzah acknowledged the scarcity of gender labour participation data.
"Nonetheless, studies indicate that women predominantly constitute the informal sector's workforce, both locally and globally.
"The government is actively enhancing data collection efforts to accurately represent the informal sector," she said.
Nurul Izzah welcomed the Malaysian Official Open Data Portal (https://data.gov.my/) for its strides in making essential data accessible.
However, she stressed the need for more comprehensive data coverage, especially for the informal sector.
In her closing remarks, Nurul Izzah urged the private sector and the community to capitalise on government programmes and join forces in narrowing the gender gap.