Home English News Women participation in leadership, policy-making still low- Wan Azizah

Women participation in leadership, policy-making still low- Wan Azizah

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KUALA LUMPUR: The participation of women at leadership and policy-making levels in Malaysia is still low despite seeing an increase compared to before, according to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She said she was confident the statistics could be improved if public-listed companies were committed to playing a more important role in achieving the 30 per cent target set by the government.

In the public sector, the deputy prime minister said almost 36 per cent of those in the top management group were women.

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However, as of last year, she said only 1,010 or 15.7 per cent of the total of 6,245 board seats in all public-listed companies were filled by women.

“In the top 100 public listed companies, the participation of women as board members had increased to 24.4 per cent in 2018 from 19.27 per cent in 2017.

“Looking at this statistics, we are indeed still far from achieving the target set by the government that women make up 30 per cent of board members in public-listed companies,” she told Bernama in conjunction with World Women’s Day celebration tomorrow.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said that among the factors preventing the target to be achieved was that gender diversity was not seen as a strategic business approach.

Besides, she said women were still considered unprepared and unqualified to be entrusted with the responsibility as board members even though they appeared capable of being in the board of directors.

“The findings of local and global surveys clearly reveal that women are still being marginalised in this aspect as the systems, structures, practices and thinking of the society are inclined towards the patriarchal thinking which will not benefit the nation.

“Therefore, I urge all public listed companies to double their  efforts to increase women’s participation as it is the right thing to do,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said some studies had also proved that gender diversity and female participation would certainly contribute to better corporate finance management, including aspects of governance.

In fact, she said, gender diversity was among the important considerations of investors before an investment decision was made.

Hence, Dr Wan Azizah said the government would continue to be committed to increasing women participation at the leadership level.

Among the initiatives that had been undertaken to encourage more women to hold board (of directors) positions to achieve the 30 per cent target was to create a 30% Club, a group of corporate chairpersons and business leaders working to provide various mentoring programmes to prepare women as board members.

“The club aims to raise awareness among corporate and business leaders on the importance of gender diversity in economic development,” she said.

She added that the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry would also continue to hold more engagement programmes such as the Women Directors’ Programme, a training course run by experts from the Malaysian Academy of Directors (MINDA) for female members of the board of directors to empower them so that they would be ready to carry out their responsibilities.

-BERNAMA