As countries around the world marked International Women’s Day several days ago, I took time to reflect upon the achievements and role of women in Malaysia.
Last year can be remembered for the sporting heights reached by Datuk Nicol Ann David, who notched an incredible seven victories of the 11 international tournaments she contested, the World Brand Congress award won by Datuk Sharifah Mohd Ismail and Senator Datuk Armani Mahiruddin’s appointment as deputy President of Dewan Negara.
Can we expect more of the same in 2010? I certainly hope so.
Education is key to women’s empowerment. It is worth recognising the great strides women are making in higher education. Approximately 65% of candidates who were offered university places at the start of the 2009/2010 academic year were female. Furthermore, women are now dominating the teaching profession.
The prominence of female students in higher education in part explains their strength in the civil service: 61 percent of posts in management and professional fields are accounted for by women. This figure suggests that women will hold the majority of positions in the higher management workforce several years from now.
Our entrepreneurs have a fundamental part to play in our drive to become a high-income country. There are now 86,000 women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, a figure that I would like to see grow. A National Key Results Area (NKRA) target is to produce 4,000 women entrepreneurs by 2012. Under the 2010 budget, skills training and entrepreneurship programmes will be provided to more than 3,000 women through the Department of Women’s Development and Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia.
I conclude with questions for my female readers: what would you like to achieve this year, and beyond? How can the Government help you in this regard?