In November 2016, The Asia Foundation, an NGO that champions issues that create a more equitable global environment, decided to partner with The National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Malaysia to promote gender related labour law practices in Malaysia.

We started with a survey, which was done across Malaysia, to find out the level of understanding of labour laws among predominately female and some males workers. It turned out that many did not know the terms and privileges of their employment.

This led us to produce an awareness programme, town hall style, on what labour laws offer both men and women employees in Malaysia. We called it The Tarik Talk and these were conducted in major towns in West and East Malaysia. Almost a thousand people attended these talks.

To further gender sensitise the workplace, we just completed 6 facilitated workshops to engage women and men to make that concerted effort to change stereotyping and create a fairer work environment. The workshops were designed to increase awareness of gender issues, suggest guidelines for a gender-sensitive approach to promote respect for the equally valid roles that men and women play at work, and for their families and communities.

Recently, as part of the project, the STEM Women Leadership Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu. Conference was intended for women and men to spearhead women to make an indelible mark in the jobs that were considered to be the male domain in the past. There is a movement globally for women to embrace jobs and businesses that use science and technology as this has a direct impact on the economy.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the keynote address of Haruno Yoshida, who has been hailed as one of the fifty greatest leaders in 2017 by Fortune Magazine. We were fortunate to have other distinguished speakers, both from Malaysia and abroad, who had shared their knowledge and experience.

Our subsequent activity was a Multi-stakeholder dialogue to address existing policy gaps and push for gender related labour laws. This was conducted in partnership with the Malaysian Bar Council. CSOs and other non-governmental stakeholders, such as business organizations and employers, trade unions, academics, the media, and other key actors deliberated on shared goals and proposed several key policy recommendations.

The last activity will be four public forums is to ensure that the general public is made aware of the issues and needs of women workers in Malaysia. During these forums, key labour reforms and amendments discussed during the high-level stakeholder dialogues will shared with members of the public to promote inclusive public input.NAWEM President Sarojini Ruth and Nusrat Parveen, CEO Unilever Product Solutions

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