Malaysia: Advancing towards gender equality

As the society pivots towards an environment where females are recognized as equals to their male counterparts, the topic of gender equality has never been more relevant. In all levels within the society, removing barriers that oppresses women from their rights is a crucial movement that should be enforced across the world. 

The world has made considerable progress towards achieving gender equality, but despite progress made under the UN Millennium Development Goals, women are still facing the same issue across the labour markets around the world. In some parts of the world, there are laws that prevent women from working in certain jobs. Even if women get jobs, they face further obstacles such as the gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, and the list goes on. In essence, merely having employment opportunities is not enough to truly remove barriers for women. 

Taking a look at Malaysia, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) released a report called Statistics on Women Empowerment in Selected Domains, Malaysia, 2021. Malaysia has expressly pledged their commitment towards promoting and achieving gender equality. Along with the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Twelfth Malaysia Plan, there are policies that are aimed towards promoting equal employment opportunities for women. According to the Statistics on Women Empowerment in Selected Domains, the report showed that the overall gender equality in Malaysia has improved from 70.9% to 71.4% in 2020. The top three states that recorded the highest scores were W.P. Kuala Lumpur (85.3%), W.P. Putrajaya (79.3%) and Perlis (78.2%). 

It might be slightly bizarre to quantify gender equality, but these figures are presented through the Malaysia Gender Gap Index (MGGI) score. Essentially, the MGGI score identifies the gap across 4 key areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival as well as political empowerment. Based on the MGGI 2020 score, Malaysia currently ranks 74th among 156 countries around the world, and is also behind Singapore. 

Evidently, there is still lots of room for improvement in order for Malaysia to attain gender equality. This climb towards ensuring a level playing field for women is not an easy one, but it is a necessary fight. As long as there are continuous efforts from the government to prioritise this movement, gender equality need not be a faraway dream.