A new study has found that women in Malaysia face larger gender inequalities than most of their global counterparts.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest report has revealed that Malaysia has one of the biggest gender gaps in South-east Asia, at ninth in the region.
However, gender equality in the country is still higher than other Asian countries such as South Korea, China, and Japan.
Now in its 14th year, the report benchmarks 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four indicators designed to create global awareness.
They are: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.
Globally, Malaysia placed 104th on the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index, with an index score of 0.677.
This is nearly double of Singapore’s placement, which finished at 54th on the ranking with an index score of 0.724.
Iceland took the top spot for the 11th year in a row, while Norway and Finland came in second and third respectively.
Only 20.4 per cent of Malaysian women hold senior roles in the workforce
The report stated that Malaysia is ranked 84th globally when it comes to health and survival.
The country achieved gender parity in life expectancy as men and women live for an average of 65.3 years and 68.1 years respectively.
As for educational attainment, Malaysia also achieved gender parity in secondary and tertiary education enrolment.
But literacy rate equality – 96.3 per cent for men and 91.1 per cent for women – pulled the country’s global ranking for the indicator down to 86th.
In terms of economic participation and opportunities, Malaysia came in at 97th.
Only a measly 20.4 per cent of women hold senior roles in the workforce, whereas the figure for men is vastly higher, at 79.6 per cent.
Additionally, Malaysian women also have low political empowerment (117th), with only 14.4 per cent of them in Parliament.
None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, WEF says
This year’s report states that the world “could do better” to bridge the gender gap, as global gender parity stands at 68.6 per cent.
This means that the overall gender gap will take an estimated 99.5 years to close, it said.
In terms of economic participation, WEF estimates that the gender gap will take a staggering 257 years to close. This is a sharp increase from an estimate of 202 years in last year’s report.
“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children,” the report added.
WEF attributes this to women’s under-representation in emerging roles such as cloud computing, engineering, and data and artificial intelligence (AI).
In order to address these deficiencies, the organisation recommends the creation of inclusive work cultures and the practice of diverse hiring.
Workforce strategies should also ensure that women are better equipped, in terms of improving skills or reskilling, to deal with the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Allen Blue, vice-president of product strategy at LinkedIn, which worked on the analysis with the WEF, said: “Our data shows that meaningful action is needed to build the systems and talent pipelines required to close the gender gap in tech and ensure women have an equal role in building the future.”
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