Gender balance a top priority

Chow (centre) and Chong Eng (second left) joining other leaders and participants in performing the ‘Each for Equal’ hand gesture at the International Women’s Day celebration. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

THE PENANG government is committed to enpowering the women in the workforce.

State women, family development and gender inclusiveness committee chairman Chong Eng said the state, together with Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC), is focused on pushing for gender equality which is the fifth goal under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Under the SDGs, gender perspective is included in all 17 of the stated goals.

“This shows how important gender equality is in sustainable development, not only on the global stage but also for the country, state and communities.

“To reduce the gender gap, the state has taken a few initiatives like launching the Gender Inclusiveness Policy.

“Through this policy, the state wishes to achieve a composition of civil servants where 40% would be women, 40% would be men and the other 20% could be either men or women.

“In a developing country like Malaysia, women’s participation is essential.

“As such, the state is always carrying out initiatives from time to time to support women working in various fields, ” she said.

Chong Eng was speaking at the state-level International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020 celebrations at Dewan Sri Pinang in George Town on Thursday.

During the celebration, programmes including self-defence demonstrations, talks and panel discussions drew some 500 participants.

They were from various government agencies and the Women and Family Development Committees (JPWK) from 40 state constituencies.

Chong Eng said the theme for the celebration this year - ‘Each for Equal’ - emphasised the responsibility of individuals for their own attitude and actions.

“Collectively, we can also make changes towards a gender-equal world where men and women can each realise their potential to maximum levels.”

She said the celebration, in its eighth year, was to commemorate and evaluate what Malaysian women achieved last year and to see what they could achieve in the coming years.

Yang Di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas’ consort Toh Puan Majimor Shariff, who launched the event, said the IWD 2020 celebration was a meaningful occasion as it recognised the sacrifices and contributions of women.

“The emancipation of women from an early period of time up till now is worth it as women are now united with men in advancing families, communities and countries.

“We have seen the emergence of women leaders such as Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Latheefa Koya.

“This shows that women too are capable of creating history by becoming successful leaders in Malaysia.

“At this juncture, I would also like to bring attention to the housewives who are unpaid managers of their households, ” she said.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who closed the event, said the state recognised the role women played in the state’s development.

“Through PWDC, which was founded in 2011, various initiatives were carried out to realise gender equality and social justice.

“This is the second year that the Gender Inclusiveness Policy is being implemented in the state.

“Although this policy is still new, we believe that the action plan mapped out will ensure success of the programmes and services.

“The 40:40:20 gender employment ratio which is a reference for all state agencies is relevant and practical.

“This ensures that chances are given to those who are qualified, avoiding dominance of one gender as decision makers, ” he said.

He said that in 2019, the state allocated RM1.348mil for JPWK to be established at every constituency and 423 programmes were executed.

“This involved 91,427 participants and this achievement shows the success of each JPWK.”

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year.

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