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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

‘RM569m on football, RM22.4m on childcare’

A DAP leader believes it is more important to have 30% women representation in the government policy-making machinery than in the corporate sector for long-term national development.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional (BN) government which touts itself as a “caring government” has little concern for children or nation-building, preferring instead to spend hundreds of millions of ringgit on football.

Strange as it may sound, the federal government has spent 20 times more on football than on childcare in the last 26 years!

This distortion of priorities was brought to light by Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng who said the “federal government spent RM569 million on football and RM22.4 million on childcare”.

“The government spent RM569 million in the last 26 years on football, while only RM22.4 million was spent on grants to NGOs to establish 231 childcare centres.

“This is an obvious result from the lack of gender sensitivity in decision making,” she said in response to the government’s move to implement a 30% quota for women in the private sector.

While lauding the move, Chong said that it was also vital to have at least 30% women’s representation in the government policy-making machinery.

“If Malaysia wants to achieve gender equality, then we must have 30% women representation in the policy-making machinery. This is because decisions made by (these women in) the government will have a bigger effect on the people and nation.

“The 30% increase in women’s quota for corporate sector will only affect the market and the job dynamics of men and women. Thus, from the point of interest of women, children family and social development, it is critical to address the gender gap in the government (rather than in the corporate sector),” she said.

Chong, who is also DAP women chief, said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak “has the power to undo this long-time gender disparity”.

“If the prime minister is only focused on asking others to implement the gender mechanism in the corporate sector while he does not do the same with his own government, then it will give the impression that he is not sincere in wanting change, ” she said in a statement today.

Gender disparity

According to Chong, a 2009 survey by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, showed that the gender gap in Malaysia was widest in the fields of politics and economy. It is narrower in education and health.

Currently, in Malaysia, the female labour participation stands at 46%, while the male rate is 80%.

Chong said women were mostly involved in lower-paying jobs. Studies showed that the higher the positions, the bigger the income gap between men and women (in the same positions).

“Women still face the traditional glass ceiling when building their careers, and thus, it is necessary to have the 30% women’s quota.

“Similarly, in the government, the higher the positions, the lesser the participation of women. Certain top posts in the government such as prime minister, finance minister, chief minister and menteri besar were never held by women,” she said, adding that only 10% of the MPs in Parliament were women.

It was lower in the State Legislative Assemblies throughout the country where women comprise only 8% of elected representatives.

Chong also noted that out of the 148 mayors in Malaysia, there were only four women.

“Such a gender imbalance in the power structure has resulted in women’s perspective being neglected in policy-making, and the needs of women, children and families ignored,” she said.

Najib had on Monday announced that the Cabinet had approved the policy of ensuring that women make up at least 30% of those in decision-making positions in the private sector.

Currently, only 91 women (13%) had been appointed as members of the board in 2010 in the Finance Minister (Incorporated) companies.

Najib said that in the 200 companies listed on Bursa Malaysia up to November 2010, only 7.6% of the women were appointed to the boardroom.

“This policy can become a catalyst in the affirmative measures taken towards achieving gender equality in the corporate sector,” he said.

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