Family-friendly system needed to entice women back to work, says deputy minister

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh is confident the government can achieve its target of 56 per cent female participation in the workforce.

She said the government is working to strengthen the current support structure which provides for a family-friendly system. “By providing for factors including childcare and maternity leave, the idea is to eventually convince more women to come back to work and resume their careers,” Yeoh said in a press conference at the ministry today.

One of the primary methods of increasing women labour participation is the upcoming anti-sexual harassment Bill, which she said is still being finalised. “With the Bill in place, women will not feel out of place in a professional environment and have some measure of protection, which in turn would encourage them even further to join or rejoin the work force,” Yeoh said, adding that the ministry aims to table the Bill in the next parliamentary sitting.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said increasing women labour participation to 56 per cent from its current standing of 55.8 per cent is still feasible despite recent challenges. “Efforts to do so may be dampened somewhat due to the economic impact resulting from the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. “We have made plans regarding more women in the labour force, but will have to also take a realistic view of things. Nonetheless this will not deter us from reaching that goal,” Dr Wan Azizah who is also deputy prime minister said.

Last August, the Statistics Department reported a slight increase of women in the workforce for the second quarter of 2019 by 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter. However, male labour force participation remains consistently higher at 80.8 percent in the second quarter of 2019, leaving Malaysia as the lowest ranking country in the Asean region when it comes to female labour force participation.


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