Move to empower women

Fatimah (back row, second from right) posing for a wefie with participants of the women leadership programme in Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHBELEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak will continue to advocate for 30% women representation at decision-making levels, says a state minister.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said gender diversity and inclusiveness at all levels would ensure a diversity of skills and abilities that were key to developing innovative ideas for progress.

“Encouraging and enabling women to take up positions of leadership is essential.

“We realise that the number of women in decision-making positions is still low. We need to show the younger generation that women can lead as well as men,” she said when opening a women leadership programme here.

Fatimah said increasing the numbers to 30% was part of the ministry’s agenda, but added that it was also crucial for women leaders to be competent.

Towards this end, she said the leadership programme aimed to equip women to take up leadership roles when the opportunity arises.

“We are here to encourage more women to have the confidence that they can be leaders, to develop the skills they already have, know the hurdles along their paths and to work together to overcome these hurdles and have more opportunities to take up leadership positions.

“With an ever-expanding pool of women leaders equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, we can make waves, lobby for change and contribute effectively to nation-building,” she said.

Fatimah also said the state government gave high priority to increasing and retaining the participation of women in the workforce.Citing a Statistics Department report in 2017, she said 52.1% of the workforce in Sarawak comprised women.

However, she said this was lower than the percentage of female enrolment in higher education, which stood at 53.4% in 2017.

“The challenge is not only to increase the number of women in the workforce but to retain them.

“One of the main reasons why women leave the workforce is to raise their children.

“We want to encourage them to continue working by providing support systems such as childcare centres at the workplace,” she said.

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