Policy challenge—maximizing women’s
Women’s rate of participation in Malaysia’s labor force is well below that
for males and the lowest in Southeast Asia (Figure 3.26.10...
). Only 48% of
Malaysian women of working age reported that they were working, in
either the formal or the informal sector of the economy, or looking for
work in 2011.
Increasing the female participation rate to levels comparable with
other countries would expand the workforce by at least 500,000 and
perhaps by 2.3 million, the World Bank estimated in an economic report
published in November 2012. It also estimated that Malaysia’s GDP
growth would have been 0.4 percentage points higher in 2000–2010 if the
female participation rate had been lift ed by 11 percentage points to 57%.
Higher workforce participation would help overcome skills shortages,
enlarge the pool of entrepreneurs, and improve the welfare of women.
One reason for the low participation rate is that Malaysian women
generally fi nd it diffi cult to reconcile family with work commitments.
Fewer of them re-enter the workforce aft er childbirth than do women
elsewhere. Th e 2013 budget introduced tax incentives to encourage more
childcare centers to open, which should go some way toward addressing
this issue. Another factor is the secondary education enrolment rate for
Malaysian girls, which is relatively low compared with countries that
have a comparable level of income. Th e government is spending more on
education, and it funds retraining women aft er a career break.
Policies that have produced results in other countries include more
generous parental leave policies, encouraging part-time work, tax
incentives, improved arrangements for childcare and tending to the
elderly, raising the retirement age, and a greater focus on education
and training for women. Th e government’s 10th economic plan targets
increasing the female workforce participation rate to 55% by 2015.
Source: ADB Statistical Database System (accessed 4 April 2013). - http://www.adb.org/countries/malaysia/main
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