KUALA LUMPUR: While there is a high enrolment of female students at various education levels, the number of women being employed is still small, said the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).
Women are also earning less than men, the commission said in a report on gender equality.
The report, together with reports on human rights, millennium development goals and health, were unveiled at a Suhakam press conference here yesterday.
Suhakam commissioner Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, quoting statistics from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that in 2003 Malaysian women earned 47.2% of the income earned by men.
“We are also concerned about the low number of working women in decision-making levels in the ministries and the corporate sector,” he said.
Even if there was a predominance of women in the working force, he added, it was mainly in low-paying jobs, such as clerks and secretaries.
“We want to remove such perceived traditional roles of women in our country,” he said.
“Programmes should be implemented at various levels of education and employment to realise this possibility.”
“We want women to stand up for their rights in the working world.
“We want to ensure gender inequality isn’t prevalent in our society.”
Equality and non-discrimination, Navaratnam noted, were among the most important aspects of human rights.
On development goals, he said Suhakam would like to see a reduction in the disparity between the country’s rich and poor, and an improvement in the rural population’s access to basic services.
“We want to identify groups greatly affected by poverty, so that strategies can be formulated to effectively address their needs,” he added.
Suhakam made several recommendations to the Government to reduce poverty among rural and urban communities, including a proposal to revise the poverty-line income.
“We have passed the minimum standard set by the UNDP on our quality of life,” Navaratnam said.
“We are the most advanced among the developing countries in the world. Why can’t we raise our standard of living to exceed UN’s benchmark?”