Group urges more help for single mothers and women affected by Covid-19

Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah hopes the government will come up with a social protection plan for single mothers.

KUALA LUMPUR: A women’s NGO has urged the government to look into the problem of single mothers from the informal sector who have been adversely affected by job and income losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a press conference in Parliament today, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS) spokesperson Irene Xavier said official statistics did not reflect the actual number of informal workers who were deprived of social protection in the country.

Citing a research paper by Khazanah Research Institute last year, Irene said the number of workers denied retirement arrangements and social security protection ranged between 5.2 and 5.9 million workers (or 34.2% and 38.9% of total employment).

“But these statistics do not include those doing informal unpaid care work and household work, who are women.”

PSWS urged the government to reform the social protection system to include informal workers.

“Now is the time to do so when labour law reforms are being studied and possibly tabled in Parliament during the next sitting,” Irene said.

She also called for the government to ratify conventions on forced labour under the International Labour Organisation.

“In the current global economy, it is in the best interest of Malaysia to ensure that employment guidelines that promote decent work are adhered to, in order for companies based in Malaysia to do business smoothly in global supply chains,” she said.

A single mother who was present at the press conference, Nor Dasina Md Yusof, said the two one-off payments under the Prihatin economic stimulus package were not enough for her to get by in Kuala Lumpur.

Dasina, who works as a tailor in Lembah Subang, said she had suffered a severe loss of income from a lack of customers.

“I have had no income and I only depend on help from NGOs. I hope there can be some solution, so at least there is a way to help me get some income like I used to before the movement control order (MCO),” she said.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah said existing policies, laws and handouts were not enough for workers without social protection.

“In times of crisis they are more affected. They have no income and can’t even go out to work,” she said.

“I hope the government will have a plan for social protection, not just for the B40 but for whoever has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

“A plan is important because yesterday we just passed the Covid-19 Act which allows for a RM45 billion fund. I hope the government will come up with a social protection plan that is more fair and inclusive and will take care of the welfare of single mothers and, not to forget, migrant workers.”

On a similar note, Klang MP Charles Santiago said the government should put in some effort to register informal workers in the existing social protection systems.

“Informal workers should be registered through some kind of app. And the government should also reimburse 18% of their income that they would otherwise get in normal times before the MCO.”

He said that the government had yet to respond to the proposals made on the matter.