Statistics Dept: Women in Malaysia excel in education and health, but lag behind men in politics

Statistics Department chief Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin speaks during a Putrajaya event December 13,2019. — Picture  by Miera Zulyana
Statistics Department chief Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin speaks during a Putrajaya event December 13,2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Women in Malaysia are still lagging behind in certain key areas while surpassing men in others, despite making up just over half of the national population, new data revealed today.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia's (DOSM) “Statistics on Women Empowerment in Selected Domains, Malaysia, 2020” report covers statistics relating to gender in Malaysia from 2017 to 2019 and focuses on the core set of gender indicators covering 11 main domains.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in the Malaysia Gender Gap Index (MGGI) the country scored 0.709, or 70.9 per cent in 2019.

“Women's achievement has surpassed men in the Educational Attainment sub-index with a score of 1.053.

“For Health and Survival sub-index a score of 0.958 was recorded, followed by Economic Participation and Opportunity with a score of 0.717," he said in a statement.

The MGGI identifies the gap between women and men across four sub-indices encompassing Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

A score with a value of 1.0 or 100 per cent indicates the equality of women and men has been achieved.

However, Mohd Uzir said the labour force participation rate (LFPR) for women was still low at 55.6 per cent in 2019.

“This is when compared to other developed countries such as Australia at 72.5 per cent and Singapore at 69.1 per cent. Generally, women’s LFPR for developed nations exceeds 60 per cent.

“Similarly political empowerment recorded the lowest at 10.8 per cent or a score of 0.108, indicating that women still lag behind men as ministers, parliamentarians and state elected representatives. Yet the percentage scores have increased as compared to 2018's score of 0.106,” he said.

Based on the MGGI 2019 score, Malaysia is ranked 73rd globally, dropping 10 places when compared to 2018 where Malaysia was ranked 63rd with a score of 0.711.

“Simultaneously, within East Asia and the Pacific, Malaysia remained at the sixth position as in 2018 where we were ahead of Thailand, Indonesia, China and Brunei Darussalam.

“However, we are behind New Zealand, Australia and Singapore,” Mohd Uzir said.

The chief statistician also shared some interesting facts related to gender in 2019, such as the estimation that 15.7 million out of a total of 32.5 million Malaysians are women.

“In terms of live births, baby girls recorded 235,467 births out of a total of 487,957 live births. Women as the head of household were estimated to spend RM3,666 a month and the expenditure on food and alcoholic beverages is RM690, or 18.8 per cent of the total expenditure.

“As for MGGI by state, the top three with the highest score in 2019 are KL Federal Territory, Kelantan, and Perlis. KL recorded the highest score with 0.846, followed by Kelantan with 0.795, and Perlis with 0.769,” he said.