Pledge for Parity: Empowering Women As Equal Partners To Men(e/c)

AN INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY MESSAGE BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG

What makes Penang great is its people. Women are one half of our people, and today, 8 March 2016 – celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day – is a particularly meaningful time to honour them.

When we think of women, we remember our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends. We are incredibly grateful for their presence and contributions in our lives, for what would we be without them?

This year’s global theme for International Women’s Day is “Pledge for Parity”. It is a theme that the Penang state government is proud to support. The state government is committed to social equality, where everyone, male or female, irregardless of race, religion and political affiliation are given the best support to achieve their highest potential.

We believe that both men and women are equal partners in developing our society as a whole. In other words, both men and women working together is pivotal in our quest to build a better Penang.

This makes sense because a society which alienates women from the economy, from public life, from nation-building, is like an aeroplane with only one wing functioning.

Research has clearly demonstrated that gender equality is good for all; it benefits women, men, children and the entire community. In a September 2015 report, McKinsey and Co. found that globally, if women and men were given equal opportunities, $28 trillion or 26% could be added to the global annual GDP by the year 2025.

In Malaysia, female labour participation rate is 52.4% in 2013, which means, we are only utilising half of our women’s power. But it is not enough for the federal government to tell women to participate in the workforce. The government must match its words with real actions.

Thus, for example, in Penang, recognising the critical link between childcare and women’s participation in the workforce, the state government established two State-funded Pusat Jagaan Kanak-Kanak (childcare centres) on the island and mainland respectively, adopted a State Level Childcare Policy and Action Plan, and set up the Taska D’Komtar, a subsidised childcare centre for State Government employees in KOMTAR.

When we say we want to encourage women to be able to pursue the career of their choice, we backed it up with practical support, with family-friendly policies.

Here in Penang, we not only encourage women to participate in the workforce, we also provide the opportunity for women to lead.

The number of assemblywomen in the Penang state assembly increased from three in 2008 to six in 2013, a 100% increase, while in the backbencher, it has increased five times from one persons in 2008 to five persons in 2013.

The number of female local councillors have also increased from four in 2015 to eight in 2016. Both the current heads of our local governments are women – the first mayor of Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang (MBPP), Dato’ Hajjah Patahiyah Binti Ismail, as well as President of Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP), Dato’ Maimunah Binti Mohd Sharif.

Key state agencies are led by capable women leaders, notably, InvestPenang’s General Manager, Miss Loo Lee Lian, Penang Women’s Development Corporation’s Acting CEO, Datin Rohana Weiler, George Town Heritage Inc’s Acting General Manager, Dr. Ang Ming Chee and Penang Green Council’s General Manager Miss Thing Siew Shuen.

The Penang state government’s pledge for parity are backed by real policy actions. When we talk about building a more equitable society, we meant programming this into the most fundamental activity of the government: Budgeting. After successfully piloting it since 2013, both MBPP and MPSP have institutionalised Gender Responsive and Participatory Budgeting (GRPB) in their respective budget cycle. The Penang GRPB programme was so successful that our experts have been invited to consult with governments all over Asia. In June 2014, the Penang GRPB programme achieved international acclaim when it won a Special Mention Award from the International Observatory for Participatory Democracy.

In order to further strengthen women’s participation in public life especially at the grassroots level, each state constituency is allocated RM30,000 this year for Briged Wanita programme. This will cost a total of RM1.2 million. Briged Wanita is a women voluntary corp launched by the state government to promote activism, advocacy and leadership among women on the ground.

We are also proud to support women through our welfare programme, for example, the ibu emas programme which provides RM100 annually to single mothers and homemakers under the age of 60. This is groundbreaking in every way as we are the first government in Malaysia to formally recognise the contribution of these women in care economy. Women who are above the age of 60 will be enrolled into our senior citizens appreciation programme.

Penang is also the first state to recognise and organise an annual month-long Penang Goes Orange campaign in November and December to stop violence against women. Indeed it is our aim to create a Cleaner, Greener, Healthier, Safer Penang for both men and women.

We pledge to continue to recognise and support the important achievements, contributions, roles and place of our women in building our beloved state and country.

Happy International Women’s Day to all.

—-Mandarin Version —

“争取平权:赋权女性,让女人成为男人平等的伙伴“

槟州首长林冠英于2016年3月8日在乔治市光大发表国际妇女节献词

“槟城人”成就了槟城,因为有他们,才有今天的槟城。他们当中,女性占了一半的人口,在举世欢庆且意义深重的38妇女节这一天,我们要特别表扬他们。
当我们想起女性,自然而然地就会联想到我们的母亲、姐妹、妻子、女儿、友人等等。感恩生命里有她们,还有她们对我们生活中的种种付出,

今年的国际妇女节主题为”争取平权“,这主题也是槟州政府感到骄傲并一路以来努力贯彻执行的方针。州政府承诺实践社会平权,不管你是男人女人、任何种族、宗教、政治背景,我们将竭尽所能协助您,让大家都能发光发热。

我们深信,男人和女人是平等的伙伴,也唯有视彼此的合作为整体,社会才能往前发展。换句话来说,要把槟城变得很好,需要男性及女性同胞的平等真切合作。

这是毋庸置疑的,因为当我们将女性排除于经济、公共领域、国家建构时,就等同一架单翼飞机,少了另外一翼,将如何往更高更远的方向飞去?

各项研究报告都已显示出性别平等对所有人都有好处,不管是女性、男人、孩童或整个社区,性别平等只会让所有人受惠。根据麦肯锡公司于2015年9月发表的报告指出,若女性和男性都能获得平等的机会,到2025年之际,每年全球的生产总值都能增加28兆或26%。

2013年, 参与国内劳动市场的女性为52.4%,意味着我们只拥有一半的女力。联邦政府要做的其实可以更多,他们应该更积极地以行动鼓励女性回到职场。

以槟城为例,我们深知要让女性回到职场,育婴托儿这件事绝对是有待解决。因此,州政府实施州级的孩童托育政策,分别在槟岛及威省成立各一所托儿中心,同时,也在州行政中心即光大大楼津贴成立一间专供公务员使用的托儿所。
当我们说我们要鼓吹妇女追求个人事业的时候,我们并非光说不练,而是予以实际的支持,包括拟定家庭友善的政策。

在槟城,我们不仅鼓励女性同胞参与职场,我们还提供机会让女性站在领导的位置之上。

槟州议会内的女性议员从2008年的3位提高到2013的6位,成长幅度为100%。后座议员方面,则从2008年的1位女议员,跃增5倍到2013年的5位。

女性市议员方面,2015年共有4位,到了2016年则成长至8位。两个地方政府的领导人,即槟岛市政局的首位市长拿督芭蒂希雅及威省市议会主席拿督麦穆娜,两人也是女性。

而州政府旗下的多个机关,也不乏女性领导人,诸如投资槟城的总经理吕丽莲、槟州妇女发展机构代首席执行员拿汀罗哈娜、乔治市世遗机构总经理洪敏芝博士,以及槟城绿色机构总经理邓晓璇,彼等都是出色的巾帼女杰。

槟州政府在争取平等方面,是以货真价实的政策贯彻始终。当我们说要打造一个更平等的社会时,我们就必须把相关的原则贯彻在政府最基层的活动当中:预算案。2013年,槟岛市政厅及威省市政局纷纷落实”性别回应预算案“,这项政策的成功,引起了各国的关注,并邀请了我们的专家到亚洲各地去分享经验及予以谘询。2014年,槟州的性别回应预算案更获得了国际民主观察及参与组织的表扬与肯定,受到国际间的热烈欢迎。

为了加强女性投入公共领域,特别是草根阶层,今年起,每个州选区都拨出了3万令吉予巾帼部队。这项计划耗资120万令吉。所谓的巾帼部队,乃州政府发起的女性志工组织,志在加强基层女性的积极性、主张力及领导能力。

我们也对州政府对妇女同胞实施的各项福利政策感到骄傲,诸如在黄金母亲计划之下,我们每年提供60岁以下家庭主妇及单亲母亲100令吉。我们亦是全国首个肯定妇女在照顾家庭方面的贡献。超过60岁的妇女,将转换成领取乐龄人士回馈金。
槟城也是全国首个州属肯定,并每年固定在11月至12月办理一个月杜绝对妇女施暴的活动。这也是我们朝向为所有槟城男女打造一个更干净、绿意、健康及安全州属的目标之一。

在建设我们热爱的州属之际,我们承诺将继续肯定及支持女性同胞的角色与贡献。

祝大家国际妇女节快乐!

林冠英

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