Working towards a Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

By the Social and Economic Research Initiative (SERI)


THE World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 revealed that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years.

While women in Malaysia excel in education and healthcare, women continue to lag behind men in economic and political participation.

Despite women comprising seven in 10 of our frontliners, for every RM100 in salaries and wages received by men, women only receive RM94.07.

Although we have made progress over the years, there is much work to be done in ensuring women’s access to work opportunities, legal recourse, economic opportunities, property ownership, personal development and autonomy, access to culture, and participation in decision-making and political representation.

In celebrating International Women’s Day, we call for the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies, plans and programmes to promote gender equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

Malaysia has an opportunity to employ the approach taken by South Korea, Namibia, and Mauritius which have transformed their Ministries of Women, ensuring that women empowerment is a frontline issue advanced by all ministries in the Government.

Promoting gender equality and equity, protecting the rights of children and enhancing overall well-being of families must be at the centre of all efforts to ensure resilient and inclusive COVID-19 recovery.

Malaysia has an opportunity to advance the end of gender-based violence and gender inequity by applying a gender lens to all policies and legislation, beyond those under the purview of the Women’s Ministry.

This will enable a qualitative leap in women empowerment and socioeconomic wellbeing, towards more compassionate and inclusive societal norms.

In enabling increased women participation, inclusion by design can be fostered through:

  1. The promotion and protection of the rights of women and children across all ministries.
  2. Ensuring that all women, regardless of their age, physical condition, place of residence, income, national origin or ethnicity are treated with respect and without discrimination at home, at work, in places of study and in public.
  3. Legal recourse towards the eradication of violence against women in all its forms as and when it occurs.
  4. Ensuring the participation of women in the formulation of policies, and economic and social decisions.
  5. Enabling the secure sharing of data across public and private sector organisations in order to develop data-driven actionable insights and improve public policy.
  6. Implementing a cross-cutting gender perspective in public institutions.
  7. Establishment of resilient institutional infrastructure, conciliation, and support for family policy and multicultural family policy.
  8. Empowering youth with tools and knowledge to protect themselves, and encourage youth to stand up for each other, particularly in online spaces.
  9. Gender-sensitive budgeting, ie mainstreaming of the gender dimension into all stages of the budget cycle.
  10. Ensuring the contents and methods of education are gender-sensitive.

All parties must work together to ensure gender equality and equitable socio-economic development of women, men, and the well-being of children. – Mar 8, 2021


SERI is a non-partisan think-tank dedicated to the promotion of evidence-based policies that address issues of inequality.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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