Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Gender Trap – Women, Violence and Poverty

SPEECH by YB Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun


A very good afternoon to all of you.

It is a privilege to be with you today to launch the Amnesty International’s Briefing Paper “The Gender Trap – Women, Violence and Poverty” in conjunction with 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Before we start, I would like to thank and congratulate Amnesty International Malaysia for organising this meaningful event. Indeed, I am pleased to be here today to receive the International Report of The Gender Trap – Women, Violence and Poverty. The report we hold today, I believe, is important for every one of us here to hasten efforts and call for immediate actions to achieve gender equality and the realization of women’s rights.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The issue of poverty in women and violence against women have been on the international, regional and national agendas for over a decade. However, despite all the immerse efforts that have been taken, women are still suffer discrimination and disproportionately affected by poverty. Statistics show that more than 70 per cent of people living in the poverty are women, women’s nominal wages are 17 per cent lower than men’s, at least 60 million girls in Asia are ‘missing’ due to prenatal sex selection, and about 80 per cent of trafficked persons are women and girls every year.

Undeniably, discrimination, poverty in women and gender-based violence are inter-connected that put women in disadvantaged position. These are the causes that hindered the full realization of women’s rights. And these are the causes that limit women’s access to economic, politics, decision-making opportunities as well as social life. This year, as you all know, we were celebrating International Women’s Day with the theme “Women and Men United to End Violence against Women and Girls. It delivers an important message that we must stop the habitual and socially ingrained violence that destroys health, perpetuates poverty and prevents us from achieving women’s equality and empowerment. With the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), more systematic and concerted efforts should be taken by the state parties to ensure full compliance with its provisions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Government has taken various measures through the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to achieve the realization of gender equality in Malaysia. In Malaysia, eliminating violence against women, where there is zero tolerance, is a priority of the Government. The statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police shows that the number of reported cases of domestic violence has been increased from 3,264 cases in 2006 to 3,769 in 2008. As of June 2009, 1,820 cases have been reported. With regard to this, the Government has taken various efforts and steps to eliminate violence against women. Among the measures taken include amending legislation and creating awareness on the importance of addressing the issue of violence against women. The Government has also enacted the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2007 to provide among others protection and rehabilitation for trafficked victims. In addition, the Domestic Violence Act 1994 is being amended to enhance the effectiveness of the Act.

In Budget 2010, the Government through the Department of Women’s Development and Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia will provide skills training and entrepreneurship programmes to more than 3,000 women to assist women and eradicate poverty among women. With the formulation of National Policy on Women and its Plan of Action, measures will be continued taken by the Government together with other stakeholders to ensure the achieving of gender equality and women empowerment. The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development nevertheless will continue to review existing laws and regulations that discriminate women and hinder the empowerment of women.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Every woman has her rights. Every woman should be free from discrimination. It is the responsibility of everyone here to ensure women are free from violence, discrimination and poverty trap. Today, we are going to start our 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. And I urge our men, work together with women to end all forms of violence against women.

Finally, allow me to congratulate and commend the efforts of Amnesty International for producing the report. With that note, I launch the Amnesty International’s Briefing Paper “The Gender Trap – Women, Violence and Poverty”.

Thank you.

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