DPM says women as tough as men

By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today that women are “as determined and tough, if not tougher” than his male colleagues and promised no discrimination and gender barriers in the business world without providing details.

Muhyiddin acknowledged that women are faced with more challenges, compared to men, in the race to the top in the corporate world, at The Women’s Summit 2010 at the Sime Darby Convention Centre.

“All resources and incentives provided to businessmen will be made available to businesswomen equally. There will be no discrimination, no gender barriers,” he promised.

The deputy prime minister said the government also aims to increase the number of women in the workforce as well as introduce policies to create a more family-friendly environment.

He pointed out that there has been a surge in the number of women in decision-making positions. He said last year, women made up 28.8 per cent of the Senate and 10.4 per cent in the House of Representatives. Women also account to 30.5 per cent of top public sector management positions.

The deputy prime minister also highlighted the fact that that women in rural areas are among the most marginalised in the country. He quickly added that the government had already put various skills-building schemes to increase the income-generating power of the local women, although he did not elaborate on the details.

“Our target is to create 4,000 women entrepreneurs from such low-income communities by the year 2012,” he said.

Muhyiddin said women made up a substantive part of the workforce and that the government is willing to create a more women and family-friendly environment to encourage more women to come out to work.

“There are plans to introduce Part-Time Work Regulations under the Employment Act 1955, while we are also looking into arrangements for enabling women to work from home by tele-working and engaging in part-time or flexi-time options. At the same time, the government is encouraging the private sector to establish childcare centres by offering tax incentives,” he said.

Muhyiddin said it is the government’s goal to increase women’s participation in the workforce to 55 per cent from the current 46 per cent, by 2015.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil told reporters today that her ministry will be submitting a proposal by the second week of January to the Cabinet to have the private sectors apply the new maternity leave extension implemented in the government sectors.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced that the government would allow flexibility for female civil servants to self-determine fully-paid maternity leave of up to 90 days, a one-month increase from the present 60-days leave allowed.

Najib also said that the facility was subject to a total of 300 days of maternity leave throughout the civil servant’s entire tenure of service.