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Thursday, October 31, 2013

'What has Shahrizat done for Malaysian women?'

The government must answer for Malaysia's failure to narrow the gender gap as latest global survey showed the country's women were still among the world's most repressed.

NONEMalaysia's position has slipped two places to rank 102nd among 136 countries surveyed in the 2013 Global Gender Gap Index, DAP MP Teo Nie Ching (left) noted today.

She cited that since the World Economic Forum started doing the surveyeight years ago, Malaysia have also made almost no progress, compared to its peers in Asia and elsewhere.

She said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil should be ashamed of their inefficiency in closing the gender gap and women empowerment, the MP for Kulai said in a press statement.
Shahrizat was Women, Family and Community Development Minister for many years and is now its special advisor.
"Out of 110 countries that were covered consistently between 2006 and 2013, 95 countries have shown positive progress over the last eight years, with Malaysia being the country which shown the least improvement," Teo added.

NONEThe report noted that Singapore, Mongolia, China, the Philippines and even Cambodia had made more steady progress in achieving equality for women, compared to Malaysia over the last eight years.

Malaysia was currently ranked alongside countries such as India, Japan, Nigeria and United Arab Emirates in the Gender Gap Index.

Malaysia's poor performance in the index comes despite government's recent boast. In London this week, Najib who was the patron of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), had encouraged other nations to learn from Malaysia's experience on empowering women. 

He said that economic success could only be achieved if the world put women at the heart of its global growth story.

Yet, Teo said she did not see the BN government employing this strategy.

"BN administration has failed to understand that gender equality matters to Malaysia's development because the ‘absent women' represent a skills and brain drain from the Malaysian workforce. So how can the women in Malaysia expect a better tomorrow if BN continues to rule? "

Teo noted that a Women Affairs ministry was created in January 2001 and as its longest-serving minister, Shahrizat had been tasked to draw up policies for shoring up gender equality.

But in a strange twist, Najib himself took over the ministry for a brief period in April last year when Shahrizat vacated the cabinet position.

From May this year, Rohani Abdul Karim has been the Women's Affairs minister and Shahrizat has been made a special advisor.
 Four aspects
In the Global Gender Gap report, four broad aspects were evaluated: economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

johor state assembly sitting 190813 senai assemblyperson wong shu qiMeanwhile, DAP Wanita's assistant publicity secretary Wong Shu Qi (left) also looked at the survey and found one bright spot: There are now more female than male students undergoing tertiary education.

However, the Senai state assemblyperson noted that this did not translate into work opportunities.

"It is puzzling to see that the female economic participation rate is considerably low compared with the educational achievement record of our female students. Somehow, our highly-educated female population does not appear to be well-represented in the workforce," Wong said.

Wong urged a family-oriented policy revision at the workplace to reverse this.

"Ensure that both father and mother can share responsibilities equally and reduce the burden of working mothers," Wong said.
"Good-quality, incentivised and reasonably-priced - better yet, subsidised - childcare centres to encourage our highly educated women to remain in the workforce must be set up. Or else another decade will be wasted in closing the gender gap," she added.

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