THE International Labour Organisation treaty addressing sexual harassment in the workplace is a step towards making workplaces more accessible, especially for women.
Earlier this week, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde talked about increasing Malaysia’s productivity and focusing on creating opportunities for women, and ensuring that those opportunities are accessible.
All Women’s Action Society (Awam) is extremely disappointed by the decision of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and the government to not vote for this treaty, which incorporates the Cedaw (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) principles into a set of instruments that can be adopted to ensure a harassment-free workplace; the decision not to vote for the treaty was made on the basis that it includes a minority group that is not formally recognised by the Malaysian government.
The World Bank estimates that the labour force participating rate of women is only 50.98% as of 2018 (bit.ly/labour_force). Ensuring that women feel welcome and safe in the workplace is a serious concern – not only from an economic point of view but also to ensure that women earn a living wage and are able to make financial decisions independently.
There is no point in creating a quota/opportunities for women if basic requirements like a violence-free and harassment-free workplace are not realised.
A proper and comprehensive sexual harassment policy at the workplace will set the foundation for better working environments, better working relationships and improve productivity. Malaysia Baharu means hope for the rakyat and it is time we viewed these opportunities for progress with the bigger picture in mind rather than focusing on making a minority group the scapegoat for not moving forward.
ALL WOMEN’S ACTION SOCIETY (AWAM)