PM: Women can be a driving force

KUALA LUMPUR: Women can play a leading role in countries that want to build sustainable and successful economies, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said an improved representation of women would not only provide better decision-making, but would also help open up talent reserves that too often had been left untapped.

“Advancing economic opportunities for women is the right thing to do,” the Prime Minister said at the opening of the Global Summit of Women 2013 here yesterday.

Najib said a country’s success and stature should be gauged by the status it accorded its women. Malaysia’s women, he said, had been given the right to vote since 1957 and had earned equal wages since 1969.

“In the past four years, the percentage of women holding top posts in Malaysia’s civil service has jumped from 18% to 33%, which is a result of the improvement of economic empowerment initiatives,” he pointed out.

“However, too often, women leave the workforce early to care for others, be it their young family, aged parents or family members.

“There must be a solution to this predicament and society should recognise that care work is not the domain of women alone.

“It is for men to step up and share this responsibility when they can, so that women are accorded the same opportunities to concentrate on their careers,” he added.

Najib said the Government aimed to increase the female labour participation rate to 55% over the next three years.

“But we can only hit the target if both the public and private sectors commit to keeping talented people,” he said.

Najib said all sectors of the economy should ensure greater economic participation by women.

He stressed that equitable employment practices were not about filling quotas, but acknowledging society’s talent and potential.

“Women can and will create new economies,” he said. “But they will do it faster if we commit to policies that are far-sighted enough to recognise their potential.”