The female labour force in Malaysia must be mobilised to help attain developed nation and high-income status, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.
She said the latest data showed women participation in the labour market was at 55.2 percent last year, compared to 80.4 percent for men.
“This clearly shows there are many capable women whose talents are not utilised,” Wan Azizah (photo), who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said.
“Many studies found there is a big gap in economic opportunities between women and men,” she said in her speech at the launch of the 2019 National Women and Family Convention in Putrajaya today.
The text of her speech was read out by her deputy minister Hannah Yeoh.
Wan Azizah said a woman could be the only breadwinner in her family or a multi-talented entrepreneur.
"We are good at multi-tasking. We all know the joy and pain of performing diverse roles,” she said.
Wan Azizah also said her ministry viewed seriously the issues of abuse and suppression faced by women.
“We want to tackle these issues carefully to ensure the steps taken are really efficient and effective,” she said.
On the Budget 2020 tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last Friday, the Deputy Prime Minister said there were many new initiatives with a direct or indirect effect on the well-being of women and their families.
“Today, the fertility rate in Malaysia has dropped drastically from 4.9 birth rate in the 70s to 1.9 birth rate per woman.
"To help a couple get fertility treatment, the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) will introduce a new withdrawal category to enable them to undergo fertility treatment such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF)," she said.
With a balanced and comprehensive Budget 2020, the objective of increasing women participation in economics and closing the gender gap could be achieved, she said.