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Empowering Women, the PR Way

Recognising the important role of women to the national economic and social well being, Pakatan Rakyat launched the Malaysian Women’s Agenda on 13th September 2012. Around 1300 ladies from all walks of life turned up at Kompeks Belia dan Kebudayaan Selangor to witness the historic launch by PR leaders including Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, and all women’s wing leaders of the coalition parties.

Women’s issues took the centre stage as PR unveiled its policy instrument with seven key areas to integrate women’s empowerment, rights and welfare into all aspects of governance.

Among the highlights announced were:

Education policy

  • Increase the participation of women in skilled labour and semi-skilled labour from 46% to 60% through education and human capital training

Health and quality of life

  • Inculcating knowledge of reproductive health in woman of all ages, to be aware and manage the associate risks
  • Creating a Community Health and Area Network (Jaringan Kesihatan Komuniti Kawasan – JKKK) with hospitals

Female economic participation

  • Creating an Equal Opportunities Agency for our labour force to deal with specific issues of wages and equal opportunities for women in employment.
  • Creating a Malaysian Women’s Micro Credit Centre
  • Gender responsive budgeting

Social welfare

  • Creating Area Community Networks (Jaringan Komunity Kawasan – JKK) by empowering NGOs, agencies, religious organisations and civil society.
  • Creating a Women’s Empowerment Center (Pusat Wanita Berdaya – PWB) to raise women who are skilled, knowledgeable, and competitive value in society.
  • Malaysian Women’s Contribution Scheme with RM50 per month from a Pakatan Rakyat government to homemakers earning less than RM1,500 per month.
  • Encouraging a minimum monthly contribution of RM10 from husbands to wives, for the protection and social security of women in the event of the husband’s disability, death, divorce, or as retirement fund.

Democratising politics

  • Establishing a Women’s Leadership Training Institute. Enforcement and improvement of legislation related to violent crime, sexual harassment, domestic violence, discrimination against women, trafficking and forced labour.

Legal recognition

  • Women’s economic rights: Equal pay scale under Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution
  • Enact a Sexual Harassment Act
  • Create a national Domestic Violence and Women Commission
  • Law reform of Islamic Family law under the Syariah and Family Court.

Young women’s agenda (to empower women between the ages of 18 – 35)

  • Self-defence and ommunity development programs
  • Free pre-marital counselling, parenting and family management courses
  • Work Life Balance Program to assist a flexible work hours mechanism for young mothers
  • Policy to encourage Women’s First Home to encourage female home ownership
  • Microcredit scheme for young female entrepreneurs

There is still a long way forward to mainstream issues pertaining to gender justice. The gender gap in Malaysia is still inherent particularly in socio-economic areas.

Perhaps the best example that underscores the masculine nature of workforce is that fact that while 71% of school teachers are female but only 8 % of schoolmasters are female.

Whilst women comprise 62.3% of undergraduate degree holders and 52.7% of post-graduate degree holders in Malaysia, our female labour force participation rate stands at a paltry 45.7%.

Meanwhile, female representation in politics stands at a mere 10.4%. A more concerted effort by lawmakers to include women in policy-making decisions is needed to change the status quo. With that, PR’s Women Agenda is a good step in the right direction.- The Rocket

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