Plug gaps in Bill, govt told

PETALING JAYA: While many support the Housewives Social Security Bill, which will see the establishment of an insurance protection scheme for about three million housewives in the country, some groups have expressed concerns over gaps in the law.

These include the lack of coverage for housewives aged above 55 and househusbands.

All Women Action’s Society (Awam) communications officer Jernell Tan Chia Ee said while the government’s commitment to acknowledging housewives’ unpaid work was recognised, it was crucial to ensure that the Bill took into account current on-the-ground realities experienced by its targeted beneficiaries.

“Only housewives below 55 years old are eligible for social security coverage under this Bill.

“This eligibility criterion seems to ignore the reality whereby unlike formal employment, being a housewife is a ‘vocation’ that can last as long as a woman lives.

“Women above 70 years also have greater risks of home injuries, and women have a higher life expectancy,” she said.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) deputy executive director Yu Ren Chung said the Bill was a good move as it recognised housework as work.

“Overall, the Bill seems good as it extends social security protection to housewives.

“The scheme will reportedly be free for 150,000 households living below the poverty line and others can opt in, paying RM10 per month,” he said.

He added that the machinery for implementation was already in place, and he was optimistic that challenges in verifying specific cases could be worked out.

However, Yu said WAO was concerned that househusbands, though quite rare in Malaysia, would not benefit from the Bill.

Stay-at-home mother Nur Syahira Muhammad Hilmi said she was looking forward to signing up for the scheme, adding that the contribution was affordable to her and her spouse.

The freelance artist said it could lessen her family’s burden in case accidents occurred.

“I believe it will give me benefits in the future, plus the contribution is affordable at RM10,” said Nur Syahira.

“If my husband cannot pay, I can pay for it myself.”

Part-time insurance agent Aryna Dimyat, 29, said she would also register for the scheme as it champions housework as being equal to outside work.

“I believe that this will benefit me in the long run, so I will be signing up,” she said.

On Monday, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Housewives Social Security Bill to offer voluntary insurance protection for an estimated three million Malaysian housewives.

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