Malaysia’s gender gap in workforce widens despite government push

Despite a slight uptick, Malaysia’s female labour force participation still lags behind men’s, ranking eighth among ASEAN nations.
By: | February 20, 2024
Topics: Compliance | DE&I | Malaysia | News

While Malaysia’s female labour force participation rate is inching upwards, it remains significantly lower than men’s, raising concerns about untapped potential and economic growth.

Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad, President of the Muslin World Women’s Summit and Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia, highlighted the disparity. As of June 2023, female participation stood at 56.3%, showing a marginal increase from 2020’s 55.5% and 2021’s 55.9%. However, Dr Noraini emphasised that this figure remains significantly lower than male labour force participation rate of 82.9%.

This places the country behind its regional counterparts, ranking eighth out of 10 ASEAN countries according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) 2022 report. Countries like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand showcase substantially higher rates ranging from 59% to 74.8%.

READ MORE: Female employees see wider income gap in Malaysia

Appearing on Bernama TV, Dr Noraini underscored the government’s proactive measures to address this disparity. Initiatives include the extension of tax incentives for women returning to work under 31 December 2027, along with an increase in childcare allowances.

“Looking at the initiatives, the government has set a target to increase female labour force participation across different sectors in the country to 60% by this year,” she added, reported New Straits Times.