Fight child marriage by ending poverty, says SIS

Sisters in Islam has called for efforts to protect children by tackling the root cause of child marriage.

PETALING JAYA: Women’s rights advocates have called for more efforts to end child marriage and promote women’s leadership ahead of the 2020 budget which will be tabled in Parliament next week.

Sisters in Islam spokesman Majidah Hashim said discussions on child marriage had stalled in the last few months.

She urged the government to deal with the root cause of such marriages, particularly poverty and lack of access to education and healthcare.

“We believe that funds must be allocated for programmes to tackle these issues,” she told FMT.

“Comprehensive sexual education should be carried out at all levels, as well as programmes to alleviate rural and urban poverty by enabling families to earn enough to make ends meet.”

She also suggested that government funds be allocated for women’s leadership programmes, especially in light of the recent move to lower the voting age to 18.

“Funds should be allocated for programmes that help young women become future political leaders,” she said.

Nellie Tan, CEO of NGO Women’s Institute of Management, said women should be trained to take on leadership roles in companies.

She acknowledged that the women and family development ministry had conducted such courses but said the success rate was not satisfactory.

“Even when companies do appoint female directors, these women are often from the same small group – high-profile, with connections.”

She said the ministry should be given extra funds to run small business training courses to help marginalised women.

“Small businesses are the best way to engage marginalised women, to prevent them from falling prey to vice or petty theft.

“They allow a woman to conduct her business according to her familial responsibilities,” she said.