Act fast, help retrenched women, govt urged

Women account for 72.7% of those retrenched due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PETALING JAYA: The Women’s Institute of Management (WIM) has urged Putrajaya to swiftly help women who have been retrenched following a report that women workers are affected the most by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nellie Tan

Commenting on Puteri Umno’s call for the government to safeguard the welfare of women since they accounted for 72.7% of those who lost their jobs, WIM chief executive Nellie Tan told FMT employers should also do their part by providing childcare at the workplace.

Tan added that the government should conduct entrepreneurial courses or provide grants to training organisations or NGOs like WIM to do so.

“The government should get banks to give loans for such women to start a small business.

“Our female MPs on both sides of the divide need to stress on the need to support these women when they have the floor in Parliament and in pre-Budget engagement sessions,” she said.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress said while it detected a high rate of retrenchments among women, there was no discrimination involved.

J Solomon

“While some layoffs and retrenchment were carried out unfairly, we did not detect a pattern of discrimination against women,” said its secretary-general J Solomon.

Solomon, meanwhile, said the high number of unemployed women would impact the socio-economic wellbeing of families, especially single mothers, adding that the government should implement an emergency employment regulation compelling employers to retain their workers for a specific period of time.

“We feel the human resources ministry needs to give special focus to single income earners, including single mothers in ensuring they do not get retrenched.”

Madeline Berma

Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow Madeline Berma said although the Malaysia Gender Gap Index had shown a narrower gender gap, inequality in unemployment was of concern.

She said when it came to educational attainment, women had outperformed men at the secondary level (94.2% to 84.2%) and tertiary level (50.3% to 37.8%), and that “the high rate of unemployment among women indicates a wastage of human resources”.

Berma said the employment and unemployment statistics also indicated a “last-in-first-out” trend in the workforce, where women were last to be hired and the first to be retrenched during an economic downturn.

She said “the government should develop a comprehensive database of women, particularly those who have been retrenched, detailing their knowledge, skills, and experience”, which could be used as reference by potential employers.