More support needed to allow more women to join Malaysia’s workforce

For women to return to work, a care infrastructure needs to be in place to allow them to keep up their commitments at home.
By: | December 19, 2022

Investing in care infrastructure would improve the employability of women, according to T Shanthi, a professor of gender studies at the University of Malaya. Although the economy and labour markets have sufficient jobs available, she said that women are still required to perform unpaid care duties.

Care infrastructure refers to resources and services necessary to help families meet their caregiving needs, and includes childcare and elderly care centres.

Shanthi explained, “If the government gave equal importance to care infrastructure, it would improve employability and lower unemployment rates.” However, policymakers must first acknowledge the importance of gender equality prior to creating care infrastructure, she added.

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Rodziah Ismail, MP for Ampang, a town in Malaysia, concurred with Shanthi, saying political recognition of the issue was a positive development. She added, “A sufficient budget must be allocated to be able to provide women with the infrastructure.”

In October, Hannah Yeoh, MP for Segambut, said the proposal for income tax exemptions from 2023 to 2028 for women returning to the workforce after a career break reflected the government’s lack of understanding as to why women chose to stay home, and this is due to the lack of childcare or elderly support at home.