GEORGE TOWN, Feb 17 — Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong has revealed that the Defence White Paper will focus on fostering diversity and increasing women’s participation in the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF).
He said women were an integral component in the defence area and Putrajaya was committed to increasing the number of women in the country’s military.
“The idea of women is not suitable for combat is gradually changing — indeed, Malaysian Armed Forces has some very remarkable female fighter pilots — a combat role in every definition,” he said in his opening remarks in the Women, Peace and Security Course at the Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre in Port Dickson.
He said the government will provide the necessary support for the women in the MAF, including ensuring equal career progression opportunities as well as providing nursing facilities and subsidised childcare services.
“Indeed, I believe that while we need to treat women equally as men, we must at the same time acknowledge the gender-specific challenges that they face in order to advance in their military careers,” he added.
He stressed that Malaysia was always committed to achieving the goals of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
He admitted that aim to improve diversity and gender balance in the military service will not be easy.
“It takes time to build skill and experience, as well as to effect change and mainstreaming the understanding of gender empowerment within the military culture and organisations,” he said.
He said this was why the Women, Peace and Security Course was a crucial step for participants to understand how other military organisations, particularly the Canadian Armed Forces, have worked to develop an inclusive and operationally functional military culture.
He hoped the course will be pivotal in allowing participants to learn more effective preventive and responsive systems to protect women and girls specifically in a conflict situation.
“The knowledge gained should then be implemented not only in our daily lives but to enhance the capability of your various armed forces in implementing the pledge for world peace,” he said.
Liew said the Defence White Paper, tabled in December 2019, reaffirmed Malaysia's commitment in maintaining regional peace and stability.
He also welcomed contributions and partnerships to further strengthen the role of the Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre, a multi-dimensional PKO training centre in the region.
“We will also continue to work closely with our fellow Asean member states via the Asean Peacekeeping Centres Network in this endeavour,” he said.