Malaysia outlines efforts to boost female labour participation

Malaysia is targeting 60% female labour participation through policy enhancements, ecosystem support, and training.
By: | September 4, 2023

The Malaysian government is embarking on a series of initiatives aimed at increasing female labour participation from the current 56.2% to a target of 60%, as announced by Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development.

She detailed a three-point strategy to achieve this goal. The first focal point of the strategy is the enhancement of policies and laws that directly impact women in the workforce. This involves bolstering the National Women Policy and ensuring the full implementation of the enacted Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 2022.

She continued, “Second, we will provide the ecosystem to support women, including subsidised daycare centres as well as financial aid for women entrepreneurs, such as MyKasih Kapital and the two-year Exit Programme (2YEP) carried out by the ministry.”

In the third facet of the strategy, the emphasis will be on facilitating access to training and capacity-building programmes. This includes initiatives like the Wanita Bangkit programme, WeJana, and WeBridge, which aim to upskill and reskill women, enhancing their capabilities and prospects in the workforce.

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Addressing the disparity in women’s workforce participation, the minister stressed that the government would carry out policies that supported a wage-to-GDP ratio increase to 45%, in line with more developed nations, and continued, “This means the government does not only want more women in the labour market, but it also wants them to have a higher purchasing power.”

Although women’s labour participation was 82.9% in Q1’2023, it trailed men’s, highlighting an underutilisation of talent. Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Former Deputy Prime Minister, added that a support system, including affordable children’s care services, better work environment with facilities for nursing mothers and protection against sexual harassment, in addition to pay equity, would encourage more women to return to the workforce, reported New Straits Times.