KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia stands to benefit when women are encouraged to join and stay in the workforce, says Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
"The world cannot be the best it can be if half of the population do not reach their full potential," she said, quoting former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
The country can be more prosperous and enjoy stronger economic growth should more women be encouraged to stay in the workforce, she added.
She said this at the EcoWorld Women's Summit 2019 held at the Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) sales gallery here Friday (March 8).
She said that gender inequality continued to exist in Malaysia, citing the fact that although there were more women than men in universities, women's participation rate in the workforce was relatively low.
As such, the government has launched initiatives to counter this inequalities such as providing childcare facilities, which she said would start in her ministry this year.
Yeo also shared a personal story where she was inspired by an aunt who became the first woman in her hometown to enter university.
She called on women to be role models to the young girls watching them.
"Let us be good in what we do and break the glass ceiling, because the next generation of young girls will know their dreams are not too big to achieve," she said.
Women do not need to be married or to rely on a man to achieve their dreams and fulfill their potential, she added.
Yeo urged men to take up responsibilities in the household to create a more gender-balanced society.
According to global statistics, she said, on average women spend one to three hours more on household chores compared to men.
Also present at the event were EcoWorld Development Group Berhad chief executive Datuk Chang Khim Wah and EcoWorld Malaysia director Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin.