Women underrepresented in Malaysia’s private sector

Improving workplace amenities is one measure organisations in Malaysia can implement to encourage more women to return to the workforce.
By: | October 24, 2023

While the public sector has surpassed its target of 30% of women representation in decision-making roles with a current figure of 38.8%, the private sector is still lagging, according to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia.

Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri underscored the pressing need to tackle the gender disparity within the private sector while recognising the ministry’s limited influence over decisions made by private organisations. She added that the government has announced various initiatives and tax exemptions to encourage women to join the workforce and is also studying how to achieve its target of 60% women’s workforce participation.

“We are in the midst of making certain reforms to encourage women to return to the corporate sector, including making legal framework reforms for working women and organising advocacy programmes such as ‘Jerai Wara’ and ‘Wanita Bangkit’ at a national level,” she said. Jerai Wara is an anti-sexual harassment programme, whereas Wanita Bangkit is a programme specifically designed to assist women in overcoming challenges and thrive as successful entrepreneurs.

To encourage more women to rejoin the workforce, Nancy suggested improving workplace amenities, including daycare centres, nurseries, lactation rooms, and other essential support.

The ministry has tasked the National Women and Family Council (NWFC) to study some of these issues. Nancy stressed the primary goal of NWFC is to empower women and reject any form of gender-based discrimination, in line with Article 8 of the Federal Constitution and Malaysia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), reported New Straits Times.

READ MORE: Malaysia outlines efforts to boost female labour participation

“This council also aligns with the country’s National Family Policy in building and strengthening family institutions and serves as a platform for various stakeholders, including federal government agencies, private sector representatives, academics and non-governmental organisations, to provide insights and ideas to empower women and enhance family institutions comprehensively,” she concluded.