Opening the Women Talentship 2016 seminar at Menara Usahawan, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong appreciated efforts made by the Malaysian government to increase more women headcount in the workforce and said this progress must not stop.
Calling it “unfortunate” to not acknowledge the indispensable role that women play in the marketplace and in the economy, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s department told The Star, “Malaysia has come a long way in opening up opportunities in education and business for women. We must not stop here.”
He further added that, ““Due to efforts at various levels, Malaysia’s female labour-force participation has gone up from 46.8% in 2010 to 53.6% in 2014 and we are one of the foremost countries with women in leadership positions in the public service.”
In 2000, the public service generally comprised more men than women; however in 2010 the numbers have catapulted to see more women rise to occupy top positions, a precise 32.3%. “We have decisively broken through the tradition of having male-dominated roles due to our emphasis on merit and performance.”
However, efforts are needed from the corporate sector to catch up with public sector to provide more opportunities for women in decision-making senior roles of leadership. As of last findings in 2014, only 16% women were on the board of directors of public companies.
The Women Talentship programme aimed at encouraging women to participate in entrepreneurship was organised by the Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurship (SAME). SAME chief executive officer Neil Foo and SME Association national president Datuk Michael Kang were also present at the opening of the Women Talentship programme.
Dr Wee added, “As per the RM100mil Chinese SME Fund, we are actively looking to benefit women entrepreneurs who need funds for expansion or to ease operating cash flow. So far, 49 women or 14.2% have received RM9.8mil of the fund.”
The irony in Malaysia is that although there are huge number of women graduates entering the workforce, they leave at the peak of their careers owing to family responsibilities.
The Malaysian government has further introduced incentives to encourage employers to attract and retain women in the workforce, but they say more needs to be done to attain the goal of increasing Malaysia’s female labour participation rate to 59 percent by 2020. The proposals include creating more community centres for child and elderly care, flexible work arrangements, and appropriate policies and incentives for employees and employers, New Strait Times reported.