Gender Equality WorkshopAug 30, 2017
Mr. Azman Mohd Yusof, Deputy Secretary General, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
Mr. Chua Choon Hwa, Under Secretary, Policy and Strategic Planning Division, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
Speakers and resource persons for today’s workshop:
Ms. Shanthi Dairiam
Ms. Zarizana Abdul Aziz
Puan Hajjah Baiyah Ag Mahmon
· Department for Women’s Development
· Department of Social Welfare and National Population and Family Development Board
· Ministry of Foreign Affairs
· Attorney General’s Chamber
· Economic Planning Unit
· National Council of Women's Organisations (NCWO)
· Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) and
· Women's Aid Organisation (WAO).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning and Selamat Pagi
It is my great pleasure to be here, with all of you, as it is a very important day. A day that marks the start of a journey, to formulate Malaysia’s Gender Equality Act.
On behalf of United Nations Development Programme, I welcome you to this workshop on the Gender Equality Act. Thank you for making time to join us this morning.
Through the new Sustainable Development Goals, governments and development partners and stakeholders around the globe have proceeded forward to step it up for gender equality. UNDP and the UN system as a whole therefore, welcomes Government’s commitment to put in place a Gender Equality Act and the multi-stakeholder approach that is being taken toward this end. The high quality of civil society engagement and substantive contributions toward this effort, such as that by the Joint Action Group (JAG), is also highly commendable and the United Nations Country Team through its Gender Theme Group is happy to have been able to support some of this work.
Gender equality lies at the heart of human rights and is also a central and cross-cutting issue under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs). The UN/UNDP is committed to making gender equality a reality, not only because it is a moral imperative, but more so because it is a way to promote prosperity, well-being for all and most importantly toward “leaving no one behind”.
Malaysia has been making strides to reduce gender inequalities since 1995 by pro-actively organizing and implementing various initiatives to strengthen equality and non-discrimination provisions in Malaysian legislation and in practice.
Among the key initiatives are the:
· The 30% target for women in decision making roles, launched in 2012 -a project between UNDP and Ministry of Women that has had resounding success with the public sector achieving 37.1 per cent women in decision making. However, there needs to be greater efforts by the private sector in this regard.
· Ratification of international agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action 1994, the Beijing Platform for Action 1995, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, the CRC, Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Vienna Plan of Action on Human Rights.
· Malaysia is also addressing gender equality through the Eleventh Malaysia Plan Strategic Thrusts 1 and 3 and the “game changer” of “Uplifting B40 households towards a middle class society”. This has been further complemented by the National Policy on Women 1989 and Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women 2010–2015.
The abovementioned achievements however, need to be strengthened and improved especially given women’s increased economic and social role in today’s society. This even more so as Malaysia seeks to attain developed nation status by 2020 and meet its commitments on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
When the Government of Malaysia announced its plan to create a legislation to achieve gender equality in Malaysia in November 2016, it marked another milestone. The creation of this act is crucial not just for individuals. It is crucial for a strong and just society and a robust economy. I would also like to congratulate Malaysia for the recent amendment to the Domestic Violence bill 2017 as this amendment will significantly improve the lives of domestic violence survivors in Malaysia through the increased protection offering to victims of domestic abuse.
The Gender Equality Act will also help Malaysia move closer to achieving gender related targets and indicators of Agenda 2030, particularly those under Goal 5 - to Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls.
Through a multidimensional approach, empowering all women and girls will see an improvement in nearly all the SDGs from – ending poverty, opportunities for quality education and economic growth as well as reduced inequalities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1) UNDP has successfully collaborated with the Ministry of Women, family and Community Development on projects which aim to assist the Ministry by way of sharing of experiences, knowledge and lessons learnt in gender mainstreaming and contributing towards greater gender equality, women’s empowerment and the promotion of women’s rights in public and political life.
2) Notably, there have been profound changes in the status and role of women over the past few decades in Malaysia, especially the narrowing of gender gaps particularly in education and health. Women have entered the labour force in unprecedented numbers, increasing their potential participation in decision making at various levels, starting with the household.
Economic participation of women has improved, whereby, the female labour force participation rate stands at 54.1 compared to 46.4% in 2009 but there remains much more that needs to be done as has also been highlighted Malaysia’s first Voluntary National Review on the SDGs that was presented at the High-level Political Forum in New York. These include:
· Ensuring gender empowerment;
· Reducing all forms of gender discrimination; and
· Reducing gender-based violence
Gender gaps persist in terms of wages, occupations and industries. Rights with regards to citizenship, marriage, labour and decision-making in public and political life have continued to elude women. Women are still underrepresented in the very top echelons of the public and corporate sectors as well as in legislative and political office.
To respond to some of these challenges, UNDP is embarking on the Private Sector Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. It is a new and innovative approach to encourage private sector enterprises to close gender gaps in the workplace and provide support for gender equality programme in their respective organisations.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The gender equality act is an investment for the country on many levels. it is an investment in gender equality; it is an investment in the wellbeing of the working generation that is caring for their children; and it is an investment in the next generation.
Having accepted that gender equality is necessary for sustainable development, as well as reiterating its commitment to gender equality to its people as well as the international community, Malaysia’s move to create a legislation is timely and necessary.
Having a good Gender Equality Act in place can help Malaysia achieve its vision to become a high-income and advanced nation and yield multiple dividends across the Sustainable Development Goals.
I therefore, wish you a productive workshop.