Rights group welcomes Budget announcement for women’s employment and welfare development

Kenneth Tee
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng speaks to reporters in Parliament October 11, 2019, after the tabling of Budget 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) today welcomed the federal government’s initiative to improve female labour force participation as announced in Budget 2020.

WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said the non-governmental organisation was particularly excited to hear about Women@Work incentive that encourages and enables women to return to the workforce.

“Such support is especially important for domestic violence survivors who are rebuilding their lives and working towards financial independence,” she said in a statement.

Earlier Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in tabling Budget 2020 at Parliament, announced the Malaysians@Work initiative, which is aimed at creating better employment opportunities for youth and women.

Divided into four programmes, the Women@Work seeks to create 33,000 job opportunities per year for women who have stopped working for a year or more, and are between 30 to 50-years-old.

Meanwhile the women’s rights group also lauded the federal government’s move to allocate RM30 million to provide for child care facilities in schools and hospitals.

“Access to child care would enable more women to participate in the workforce, as currently over 2,563,800 women in Malaysia were not working due to “housework or family responsibilities”.

“Public funding for childcare is critical because childcare is largely out of reach for many parents, especially those from low-income groups,” she said, adding that more details on how many would benefit should be made public in the future.

Sumitra also said WAO was pleased that some positive amendments to the Employment Act were announced including increased paid maternity leave, improved sexual harassment protection, and prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and religion.

“We look forward to seeing the rest of the amendments to the Employment Act, including paid paternity leave – which we hope to be at least seven days.

“We also urge the government to ensure the prohibition of discrimination includes discrimination against job seekers, not just employees,” she said, adding that these improvements should also be extended to both Labour Ordinance of Sabah and Sarawak.

She also said it was encouraging news that the government has announced RM80 million towards maintaining 67 Welfare Department institutions as many currently lack the capacity and resources to provide comprehensive services.

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