Women’s participation in the workforce increasing
In Malaysia, women’s participation in the workforce, though low, has increased from 44.7 per cent in 1995 to 47.3 per cent in 2004.
Women have increasingly become engaged in modern sector employment, a growth that was especially marked when the expansion of the manufacturing sector was at its peak in the 1980s.
Initiatives by the Government and NGOs and improvement in access to higher learning have helped empower a larger percentage of Malaysian women, and more are seen moving into higher-paying occupations. According to statistics from the Mid-term review of the 8th Malaysia Plan, the proportion of women who are legislators, senior officials and managers has increased from 5 per cent in 2000 to 5.3 per cent in 2002.
Efforts to quantify unpaid work had found that women carried out a larger portion of “care work” (75 per cent of women compared to 24 per cent of men), amounting to nearly 76 billion Malaysian ringgit, or 12 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP). Poverty among female-headed households had declined due to income generating programs for poor and single mothers and the provision of basic and safe living quarters to targeted poor groups.
Increasing female labour force participation requires balancing their competing responsibilities within the family and the workplaces. Flexible time arrangements at work, safe and high quality childcare facilities as well as ‘teleworking’ will support increasing women’s labour force participation. A lack of managerial and professional skills tends to restrict women’s progress to the higher professional positions. Education and vocational training opportunities for women need to encourage their participation in areas that lead to higher paying jobs in all sectors. Women generally lack access to credit and market information to sustain their businesses.
Source: Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
Chart: Malaysia – Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, 2005
SOWC 2007 - Women in Malaysia Speak Out!