Empower says Budget 2015 fails to adequately address poverty and inequality in women.
Saying the budget didn’t take into account those earning below even the poverty income line of about RM860, she added, “At most, they are assumed to be beneficiaries of BR1M and other handouts, which in reality have not been enough to free women and their families from poverty.”
Suggesting a minimum wage and a social safety net be introduced instead, Janarthani added that these must be geared towards “eliminating poverty in specific areas and may include housing re-assignment, job placement, training that suits demand, subsidies for household bills, and free and adequate childcare services”.
Janarthani was also of the opinion that the Budget’s allocation to train women professionals, would come to nought if there was no concerted effort to change “societal perceptions and stereotypes”.
She said, “Social, political, cultural, economic and legal inequalities continue to hold back women from reaching their full potential.”
Another area of concern was discrimination against women. Janarthani asked, “Where is the allocation in the budget towards reviewing existing laws and policies that discriminate against women?
Saying new and better laws must be developed, she added that Parliamentarians and State Assemblypersons of better calibre could be produced if the government allocated a budget for gender sensitisation and trained women for political candidacy.
Taking issue with the government’s Strengthening Women Directors Programme, Janarthani said its lacked transparency and adequate information about its effectiveness.
She also cited the introduction of the 1Malaysia Support for Housewives programme, saying it was similar to other existing programmes whose evaluation reports were not available for public scrutiny.
“At the end of the day, national budgets must be representative of the needs of all citizens, whether they are taxpayers or not.
“They should aim to end poverty and not sustain poverty; increase women’s participation and representation and not be selective,” said Janarthani.