The widening gap between the salaries and wages earned by women and men has brought the issue of gender pay gap to the forefront of the agenda for the country. In order to encourage women in Malaysia to become more participative in the workforce, the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry, has plans to tackle the barriers faced by women in the workplace including discrimination and limited childcare options.
“The government has set in a policy statement that targets women’s participation in the job market to 56.5 percent by 2020 in the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP). Strategies and various initiatives have been put in place to ensure that women continue to work and contribute to the economy,” according to the ministry. Moreover, the International Labor Organization has issued a warning that it might take about 70 years to bridge the gender wage gap, if the governments and organizations did not take any strong measures.
Malaysian ministry’s 11th Malaysia Plan includes measures such as enhancing the access to early childhood care and enabling those women who have taken a break to return to the workforce. For example, Career Comeback Program through TalentCorp Malaysia.
Public funding for childcare can help alleviate the challenges faced by women in the low-income groups, putting in a mentoring mechanism in order to fill seats and also creating a robust talent pool, are some of the ways in which workforce scenario for Malaysian women can improve, according to the ministry which announced that the individual tax relief for school fees will be increased from RM1,000 to RM2,000.
Malaysia continues to face the challenge of a gender pay gap which results in a lower participation in the workforce. Along with the measures being recommended and implemented by the government, the real impact can only be seen once businesses get on-board and drive the efforts in a strategic and business-focused manner.