Kuala Lumpur, 8 March 2018 –  Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) urges the government to set a timeline for the Gender Equality Act, which would protect women from gender discrimination.

“The government must set a timeline for tabling the Gender Equality Act in Parliament. We want a firm commitment, and not just mere words,” says Meera Samanther, Vice-President of WAO.

 

In November 2016, Y.B. Dato’ Sri Hajjah Rohani Abdul Karim, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development announced in Parliament that her ministry is working on a Gender Equality Act.

 

“WAO and the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) have been working with the government to draft the Gender Equality Act. We now want to know what are the next steps – and when will they happen,” adds Meera.

 

“We need the Gender Equality Act because women in the private sector are currently not protected from gender discrimination.”

 

“When women get discriminated at work, they have few or no options for redress at all. Many suffer in silence, leave their jobs, or are told to leave. The Gender Equality Act would change this.”

 

“The act should not only prohibit gender discrimination, but also ensure that women who experience discrimination can easily get justice – without having to go through a lengthy, tiring, and costly process.”

 

“Malaysia also has an international obligation to enact the Gender Equality Act. The act is key to fulfilling gender equality in Malaysia.”

 

Back in 2006, the United Nations CEDAW Committee had urged Malaysia to enact a Gender Equality Act. And in 2018, the UN committee reiterated this call.

 

“Malaysian women have waited for 12 years – and we will wait no longer. Now’s the time for us to act – to act for gender equality and protect the many women who have suffered all these years,” says Meera.

 

CEDAW is the ‘Convention on the Elimination of all Form of Discrimination Against Women’, which Malaysia signed in 1995.

“What is the point of signing the Convention, but not incorporating it into Malaysian law to protect women?” concludes Meera.

 

According to a 2016 WAO survey:

40% of pregnant women surveyed have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Their employers had made their positions redundant, denied them promotions, placed them on prolonged probation, demoted them, terminated their jobs, and so on.

40% of women surveyed were asked by interviewers if they were pregnant or had plans to become pregnant in the near future.

20% of women surveyed had their job applications rejected or job offers revoked after they disclosed their pregnancy.

30% of women surveyed will delay their pregnancy plans because they fear losing their job or promotion.

Only 1 in 8 women surveyed who had lost their jobs or promotions due to pregnancy actually lodged formal complaints

WAO recently launched the ‘Invisible Women’ campaign, calling on the public to speak up against gender discrimination and support the Gender Equality Act. Read more