HANOI, Vietnam Malaysia has called for the need of gender perspective in the formulation and implementation of all policies, plans and programmes in the three ASEAN Community Pillars.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said with a combined population of more than 640 million, with women and girls making up half of that number, it was crucial to ensure that ASEAN policies would enable all women and girls to reach their fullest potential.

She said implementing a gender perspective in policies means social protection systems must be assessed on its adequacy in meeting the specific needs of women and girls.

The issues are wide-ranging, but we have a set of twin goals, to protect all women and girls from harmful gender discrimination and to empower women by ensuring equitable access to resources, she said in country statement during exchange of views session at the 3rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting On Women (AMMW) here yesterday.

The one-day meeting themed 'Social Security for Women and Girls Towards ASEAN's 2025 Vision', aims at fostering cooperation in ensuring gender equality and increasing female empowerment in the region.

Dr Wan Azizah noted that the 31st ASEAN Summit had adopted the Declaration on Gender Responsive Implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in November 2017.

She said the declaration set out nine key implementation methods, which should eliminate any shadow of doubt about what gender-mainstreaming policies mean for this region.

I wish to reiterate the importance of the Declaration moving forward, that of the need to mainstream a gender perspective in the formulation and implementation of all policies, plans and programmes in the three ASEAN Community Pillars, she said.

Sharing Malaysia's efforts in ensuring equitable access to resources, Dr Wan Azizah said the government had consistently taken measures to increase the labour participation rate of women, as of the second quarter of 2018, the female labour participation stood at 55.3 per cent and targeted to reach 59 per cent by 2020.

The number of businesswomen accounted for is 20.6 percent of the total number of SME entrepreneurs, and we aim to significantly increase that rate with more access to resources for businesswomen and women entrepreneurs, in line with the Action Agenda on Mainstreaming Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE) in ASEAN which was also adopted at the 31st ASEAN Summit, she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said in addition to financing entrepreneurs, the government continued to work in empowering and upskilling women through its Women Leadership Initiative, to ensure decision-making positions were held by women.

She said Malaysian government launched the 'Suri Incentive' (or the Homemaker's Incentive) in July this year to extend the social security enjoyed by members of the workforce to unpaid homemakers.

As at Oct 14, she said more than 26,700 homemakers had registered under the Suri Incentive across Malaysia.

The deputy prime minister also said that the government continued to support women's participation in the workforce through gender-sensitive workplace policies such as the extension of maternity leave in the public sector and a review of legislation on sexual harassment to widen its ambit to protect women and children from sexual harassment across the board everywhere.

In ensuring the rights of women and girls, Dr Wan Azizah said the government was looking specifically into the social and economic obstacles faced by women and girls in poorer households.

Gender inequality that is detrimental to women and girls are most evident among those living in poverty. In parts of the world, we witness this harm take the form of child marriages, she said.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said her ministry was committed to ending the practice of child marriage by raising the legal minimum age for marriage to 18 years.

She said the government was also working to identify gaps in support services for young mothers and girls who were not in school to ensure that their development did not get side-tracked or worse yet, abandoned entirely.

Dr Wan Azizah is on a three-day official visit to Vietnam starting Wednesday.

Source: NAM News Network