COUNTRIES all over the world have made commendable progress in implementing social security interventions over the years.
However, the International Labour Organisation recently reported that 53% of the world's population is still uncovered and is at risk of being excluded from social protection programmes, especially so among women and domestic workers.
Since social insurance interventions are mainly employment-based and targeted at the formal sector of the labour force, 44.4% of Malaysian women in the working population outside of the active labour force are at risk of being denied social protection and ultimately falling into poverty.
In relation to that, caring responsibilities and domestic chores are among the most significant barriers to women entering the labour force.
In fact, women's participation in the labour force declines after the average childbearing age of 30, implying that women leave their careers to focus on unpaid family responsibilities.
For a long time, women have also borne a greater share of the burden of unpaid care work than men. According to a Khazanah Research Institute time-use survey, women spend 63.6% more time daily on unpaid work than men, preventing women from investing time in full-time careers and formal jobs.
Women who work the same hours as men in paid jobs, on the other hand, are not exempt from domestic responsibilities. After spending about 6.6 hours of paid work daily, women continue to perform additional 3.6 to 4 hours on average for unpaid chores after office hours, leading to the "double burden" or "second shift".
While women put in significant time and effort caring for their families, many of us are led to the false belief that care work contributes little to the economy because it doesn't appear directly in our GDP calculations.
Unpaid care work is substantially intangible, and it is less likely to be reflected in conventional transactions.
But let us ponder this: if women in Malaysia are compensated RM14.21 for every hour spent on unpaid work (equivalent to estimated hourly average wages for women), the total estimated economic contribution of these women would exceed 10.6% of the total Malaysian GDP.
As the bulwark of a family, women delivering household work and caretaking are susceptible to injury and sickness. They, too, are exposed to various risks, such as domestic accidents and invalidity, that require financial assistance, care and welfare as and when mishaps occur.
PERKESO chief executive Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed encourages all men in the family to contribute on behalf of their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters to the Housewives' Social Security Scheme (SKSSR).
I am pleased that PERKESO responded to the call and rolled out a special scheme for housewives – the Housewives' Social Security Scheme (SKSSR) which came into force on Dec 1, 2022. This is in line with PERKESO's mission to provide a comprehensive social security net for all layers of society.
As a husband and father, I encourage all men in the family to contribute on behalf of their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. The scheme is open to Malaysian residents under 55 years of age, with an annual payment of RM120 to be entitled to benefits against invalidity and domestic accidents ranging from RM300 to RM30,000.
While we have a long way to go in stabilising the implementation of the scheme, I am grateful to take small progressive steps to address gender inequality when providing social protection.
With more visibility and data on women outside of the labour force, I foresee more interventions that PERKESO can do in this space.
Essentially, it is our responsibility to ensure that all workers are equally protected – with no one left behind.
The launch of the Housewifes Social Security Scheme and MyFutureJobs Career Carnival organized by PERKESO will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on the 11th and 12th February 2023.
The opportunity to register and be protected are opened to All Malaysian female citizens and permanent residents where 13,000 job opportunities await. Register now at myfuturejobs.gov.my/careerfair
Datuk Seri Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed