Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Launch of What Women Want CSR Campaign

Speech by YB Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun
Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development
@ Launch of What Women Want CSR Campaign
organised by AmBank Group

First of all, I wish to express my gratitude to AmBank Group for inviting me to grace the first-of-its-kind women focused recruitment campaign, called “What Women Want”. I must also take this opportunity to commend the efforts of AmBank Group’s insurance arm, AmAssurance for initiating this noble campaign to offer 1,500 employment opportunities to all Malaysian women.

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be noticeably seen that women have progressed and made inroads and also, earned recognition in many fields. Women of today or the New Age Woman are holding senior positions, owner of companies and professionals in all in all fields of professions previously dominated by men. In Malaysia, statistics show that women represent almost half of the total workforce as in 2008.

Recently, the International Labour Organisation reported that the women unemployment rate in year 2008 stood at 6.3% as compared to 5.9% for men. This year, the organisation predicts a global rise in women unemployment of up to 22 million.

In Malaysia, a total of 33,809 workers have been retrenched from 1,122 firms, while another 7,602 from 202 firms had left their jobs under the voluntary separation schemes or VSS from October 2008 to mid-March 2009. Based on the statistics provided by the Malaysian Employers Federation, the unemployment figure is expected to rise to 200,000 this year, compared to our previous economic slowdown in 1998 with 85,000 job lay offs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with the rapid urbanisation that the country is undergoing, women are not only playing a major role at home, but also contributing their skills and knowledge at the workplace and in the country to sustain the nation’s economy growth. Therefore, it is regrettable that women are the first to be singled out when a company’s performance declines.

The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development had conducted various training programme to educate women on financial management and to encourage them to practice good financial management both for their personal finance and of their families.

In this respect, I am truly impressed with this initiative mooted by AmAssurance to provide numerous opportunities for Malaysian women to advance their career in this difficult and tough economic environment. In line with the vision of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to attain gender equality at work, AmAssurance is taking a proactive stance to help the government in providing more jobs for women despite the global economic slowdown.

The participation of women in the nation’s economic activities is no longer an option, but a prerequisite to boost Malaysia’s competitiveness. A study showed that women’s education and entrepreneurship are on the rise. Women represent more than one-third of all people involved in entrepreneurship activities; while 40 to 50 percent of 73 million active entrepreneurs across 34 nations are women. In Malaysia, some 60,000 women-owned businesses are registered each year.

Thus far, the Ministry through the Department of Women’s Development (JPW) had conducted 201 financial management and literacy programme called “Ringgit Bestari” all over Malaysia. This programme had benefited more than 23,970 participants.

And in response to the recent economic downturn, JPW had held a special programme “Round-Table Discussion on Women’s Perspectives in the Economic Crisis”. This one-day interactive programme was targeted to impart knowledge and understanding amongst the participants on the global economic situation, the incentives under the Malaysia’s Stimulus Package to boost up the nation’s economy and also other initiatives from the Government to help women in particular to survive in this time of crisis.

These initiatives include training and retraining programme for the retrenched workers provided by the Ministry of Human Resource, opportunities in agro-business and micro-credit schemes.

This programme was targeted for women NGO’s leaders in order for them to disseminate the information to the other women at the grass root level.

Before I end my speech, let me once again congratulate Tan Sri and the AmBank Group for such an excellent job in putting together this campaign.

Eliminating gender disparity is one of the key visions of my ministry of promoting equal opportunities for both women and men at work. Hence, the efforts of AmAssurance in assisting the women in the country is highly commendable and should serve as a benchmark which obviously will be a role model to be emulated by other private sector corporations.

Last but not least, I wish AmAssurance all the best in their future endeavours and with that, I would like to officially declare the “What Women Want” campaign, open.

Thank you.

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