Dr Wan Azizah extols women empowerment at Brussels summit

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail attends the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Summit in Brussels October 19, 2018. — Bernama pic
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail attends the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Summit in Brussels October 19, 2018. — Bernama pic

BRUSSELS, Oct 19 — The empowerment of women and gender equality should be recognised and affirmed as a precondition for the realisation of sustainable development, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

“As Malala Yousafzai (a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate who is known for human rights advocacy) puts it, ‘We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back’,” she said in a speech at the second plenary session of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Summit, here today.

Themed “Reinforcing the Multilateral System: Advancing the Asem Partnership on Global Challenges”, Dr Wan Azizah touched on subjects such as gender equality, diversity, sustainable development and new Malaysia’s policies in the speech.

This is her first visit to Europe since her appointment as Malaysia’s deputy prime minister on May 21 after Pakatan Harapan took over power from Barisan Nasional in the 14th general election.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also minister of women, family and community development, said the New Malaysia policies seek to ensure women’s equitable share in the acquisition of resources, information, opportunities and benefits of development. 

“In Malaysia, we are committed to undertaking measures to elevate the roles and status of women, and to ensure that their rights continue to be protected, in line with our commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under Goal Five,” she said. 

She shared most recently that Malaysia has established a scheme that recognises the contribution of homemakers’ in nation building by ensuring that they have adequate savings in old age. 

“This scheme, named I-Suri or the Homemakers’ Pension Incentive, allows for housewives to contribute to the National Pension Fund (our Employees Provident Fund), to which the government then adds a sum every month. 

“Through I-Suri, we have extended social protection enjoyed by members of the workforce to unpaid homemakers as well,” Dr Wan Azizah said.

Furthermore, the government continues to work on empowering and upskilling women through its Women’s Leadership Initiative, to ensure that talent is matched with decision-making roles. 

“While careers are important to women, families are even more so to them. This is why the government will make it mandatory for all government departments to provide affordable daycare centres within their premises, so that women are able to work with peace of mind. 

“These initiatives affirm Malaysia’s acknowledgement of the vital role of women and the need for their unencumbered participation and leadership in all areas of society,” she added.

Dr Wan Azizah arrived here Wednesday leading the Malaysian delegation to the Asem summit themed “Europe and Asia: Global Partners for Global Challenges” that began Thursday.

The two-day Asem summit has gathered the heads of state/government of 51 Asian and European countries, the European Union (EU) representatives and the Asean secretary-general. — Bernama

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