Abdul Wahid: There is room for improvement in gender equality

23 Feb 2016 / 15:51 H.

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) outlined by the United Nations (UN) in 2000.
However, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar (pix) said there is still room for improvement, in gender equality, for example.
"In gender equality and women empowerment, we surpassed the target in terms of education.
"We need to worry more about the boys in secondary and tertiary education than the girls," Abdul Wahid told the press after launching the Malaysia MDG Report 2015 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
While female labour participation had increased to 53.6%, he said, women in senior leadership positions in the private sector is only at 29.5%, and the figures are even lower in Bursa-listed companies.
Overall, Abdul Wahid is confident that the MDG targets for year 2030 in gender equality will be achieved, possibly earlier than expected.
On questions if Malaysia will become a high-income and developed nation by 2020, he said the country is on track in terms of economic development but may be lagging in mentality.
"In Malaysia we have first-world infrastructure but we need to upgrade our maintenance culture from third world to first world.
"We also need to improve our civic-mindedness and other similar disciplines. Vision 2020 is not just about economic achievements," Abdul Wahid said.
According to the report, Malaysia managed to cut the poverty rate from 8.5% in 1999 to 0.6% in 2014 and is largely eradicated.
However, rural poverty rate is at 1.6% with the majority of poor rural households being in the fishing, agriculture, and forestry sector.
The country also successfully provided universal primary education to 97.9% of the population but girls are showing a higher rate of participation from late secondary school onwards compared to boys.
In gender equality, more women are having tertiary education than men in the science and arts sector while there are more men in the technical fields.
However, the report noted that there is still a huge gender imbalance favouring men in the political sphere and the alarming rates of sexual offences involving minors.
The report said more than 50% of rape victims are below 16 and there is a trend of offenders getting younger.
Lastly, the report highlighted that Malaysia's child mortality rates are comparable to developed nations but it is disproportionately high among Orang Aslis.
Also present at the launch were UN resident coordinator for Malaysia Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, who commended the country for its progress.


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