PETALING JAYA: A group of women trade unionists have set up an association to be a catalyst to help solve unsettled problems affecting working women.
The Malaysian Association of Working Women (MAWW), to be launched on March 1, will be open to all categories of working women from every sector.
Pro tem president Silam Hassan said unlike trade unions that could only have unionised employees on its roll, MAWW decided to register as an association so that women employees from all levels could join and it could be “numerically strong to lobby for our cause.”
Asked if existing trades’ union movement could not champion women issues, Silam said that workers unions generally prioritised industrial relations matters and women’s issues usually ended up almost at the bottom of the priority list.
“Besides, most trades’ unionists are men and men generally cannot understand these things,” said the former chairman of MTUC Women’s Committee.
According to Silam maternity protection and child-care support for working women, were some of the main issues that MAWW hoped to tackle.
She added both these issues were not given the due priority by the relevant authorities at the moment.
“Sometimes women lose out on wages and seniority when they take more than the stipulated two months to have their babies and this is not fair practice as it creates an unequal salary pattern between the genders,” she said.
Silam added women should not be short-changed in their career prospects and opportunities simply because they were the ones biologically equipped to give birth.
“Women give birth for procreation purposes, so it should be regarded as their contribution to nation building instead of being made an obstacle in the careers,” she said.
She added that MAWW would also suggest ways to the government, to enable women to take an additional month off for maternity without affecting their employers’ coffers.
“There is the possibility of getting Socso to pay part of the salary for that additional month and this will be one of our priority issues,” she said.
She said the lack of government-backed childcare centres and crèches was another area MAWW would look into.