Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wanita MCA appalled by gender biased statement of Cuepacs Sec-Gen

Press Release by Wanita MCA in response to gender biased statement by Cuepacs Secretary General (24/2/2010)

Wanita MCA is appalled of the statement made by the Secretary-General of Cuepacs Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin that the upward trend of female employees in the civil service is a cause of concern and that it would implicate on the progress and growth of the nation in the long-run.

It is shocking that a leader of an NGO which represents civil servants expressed such a blatant gender biased position. Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin’s condescending and chauvinistic statement demonstrates sheer disregard and disrespect to women and women’s contribution to the nation. It also reflects utter lack of understanding on the actual state of female representation in decision-making positions and implications of gender dynamics.

As a secretary-general of an NGO, he is expected to represent the rights and interests of both women and men. Given his skewed position, it leaves one to wonder if decision-making within CUEPACS would ever be gender sensitive if not discriminatory towards women.

We would like to question on what basis was his statement that increasing dominance of female employees in the civil service will have long-term implications on progress and growth of the country?

Gender equality is increasingly recognised as an essential component of a modern growth strategy and for sustainable economic development. Women have notably contributed and are contributing to economic growth and social development of the country. As such, a wise administration would optimise all of its productive resources irrespective of gender to attain optimum growth. While true that both women and men should complement their skills and qualities, however, there should not be a presumption of a gender stereotyped order whereby it is alright for men lead while women take on the supportive role. Thus, it is imperative that the government recognises the significance of half the female force and its contribution to the growth and progress of the country.

As a government servant himself, we are surprised that he has not fully comprehended the national policy and its spirit of achieving at least 30% at all decision-making levels in Malaysia enunciated in August 2004 is a target and not a limiting quota of 30%. His inaccurate statement marks sheer disrespect towards government’s will and intention of increasing participation of women as reflected in the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006 – 2010) and the government’s international pledge to the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (BFPA) to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in decision-making in government bodies and public administration entities, and to increase women’s capacity to participate in these arenas.

It is important to note 2 points- that Malaysia is still far from achieving gender equality and that the increasing participation of women in labour force does not correspondingly translate to higher proportion of women in decision-making.

(i) Malaysia has regressed in its overall rank over the years according to the Gender Gap Index 2009 []- with the rank of 101 out of 134 countries, a drop from its rank at 96 in 2008, While Malaysia ranks average at 77 in terms of gender gap in educational attainment given the high awareness on the need in providing equal opportunity for education for girls, however the Malaysia’s gender gap remain wide in economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment 。

(ii) Concurring with Puan Lok Yim Pheng, Secretary-General of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), not only are decision-making positions within the teaching industry still dominated by men in spite of the higher ratio of female to male teachers, it is evident in the public sector. The dismal proportion of women in decision-making in the public sector speaks volumes despite increasing participation of women in the public sector, it remains an indisputable fact that men still dominate the public sector- 2 female secretary generals out of 24 ministries (8.3%), 12 female director generals out of 70 departments (17.1%) and 11 female chief executives out of 71 federal statutory bodies (15.5%)[Statistics on Women, Family & Social Welfare 2009].

The government’s efforts in achieving at least 30% of women in decision-making would be futile if such gender biased mindsets continue to permeate the society. The government’s target of achieving at least 30% women as decision-makers is well thought out and grounded on providing equal opportunities to women given the unequal playing field, glass ceiling and deep-rooted gender stereotypes which impede women’s career advancement despite notable qualifications and abilities, and also recognising the importance of gender perspective and women’s interest to ensure gender responsive policies both at formulation and implementation levels.

It is essential that the government continues to strive to achieve gender equality and to create a conducive environment for women to be educated, empowered and to give women equal opportunity not merely to contribute to the society but as decision-makers in all spheres. This would be not only in the spirit of “1 Malaysia” which is all-inclusive, and in line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all” but also reflecting true democracy.

Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun
Wanita MCA National Chairman

The star News

Published: Tuesday February 23, 2010 MYT 8:56:00 PM
Women’s leaders slam Cuepacs chief’s sexist remark

PETALING JAYA: Wanita MCA and Wanita Gerakan are appalled by the gender-biased statement by Cuepacs secretary-general Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin, who complained about the upward trend of female employees in the civil service, as well as his alleged complete misreading of government policy on the issue.

Wanita MCA chairman Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said Ahmad Shah’s condescending and chauvinistic statement demonstrated sheer disregard and disrespect for women and their contribution to nation-building.

She said it also reflected an utter lack of understanding of the actual state of female representation in decision-making positions and the implications of gender dynamics.
“It is shocking for a leader of an organisation which represents civil servants to express such a blatant gender-biased position,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

Chew was responding to reports about remarks by Ahmad Shah expressing concern over the increasing female profile in the civil service, saying it would have long-term implications on the progress and growth of the nation.

He was also quoted as saying that women civil servants tended to be inflexible and rigid, and thus were unable to provide effective and friendly service, besides their need to go on long leave after giving birth.

Chew said Ahmad Shah’s inaccurate statement showed sheer disrespect for the Government’s intention of increasing women’s participation in decision-making in Government institutions and public administration bodies.

“The Government’s efforts in achieving at least 30% of women in decision-making (positions) would be futile if such gender-biased mindsets continue to permeate society,” she said.

Chew said that Ahmad Shah did not fully comprehend the national policy.

The Cuepacs secretary-general had said that almost three quarters of new posts in the administrative and diplomatic service were being filled by women, claiming that this was “contrary to the present government policy to reserve only 30% of decision-making posts for women.”

The actual government policy is to have women in at least 30% of decision-making posts.

Chew said Ahmad Shah’s inaccurate statement was tantamount to “sheer disrespect towards the Government ... and its international pledge to the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in decision-making in government bodies and public administration entities.”

She noted that according to Gender Gap Index 2009, Malaysia’s overall rank had dropped to 101 last year from 96 in 2008.

Echoing Chew’s sentiment, Wanita Gerakan deputy chief Ng Siew Lai said it was wrong for Ahmad Shah to question or worry about too many females in the civil service.

“We should not worry too much about the current dominance of female employees in the civil service. This is the nature of progress of society. However, we must also take measures to encourage males to become civil servants,” Ng said.

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