Wednesday, March 9, 2016

DAP Wanita Selangor Media Statement: Quality, Affordable and Safe Childcare Services

Media Statement by Hannah Yeoh and Yeo Bee Yin, DAP Wanita Selangor Chairwoman and Organizing Secretary on behalf of DAP Wanita Selangor on Tuesday 8 March in Petaling Jaya.  

On this International Women’s Day, DAP Wanita Selangor urges the Selangor State Government to take the lead and set an example in empowering women by providing and promoting quality, affordable and safe childcare services.

Today, for many women, juggling domestic responsibilities and career aspirations is a reality they have to contend with on a day-to-day basis. It is commonly acknowledged that one of the main reasons women leave the workforce is due to childbirth. This reveals that the responsibility of childcare still lies largely on the shoulders of women. In many instances, the increasingly high costs of childcare in Malaysia forces one parent (usually the mother) to stay home to care for the child.

In a recent study done by the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Selangor is reported to have one of the highest percentages of women in the workforce, behind Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Indeed, Selangor has made progress in the past 7 years in promoting women welfare. In the Selangor state legislative assembly, women make up of 15 out 56 (26%) of the state legislators (ADUN) compared to a mere 10% in Parliament. As for the DAP, 5 out of 15 (33%) of our Selangor elected representatives are women.

Selangor is one of the first states to offer 90-days maternity leave. 10 out of 42 Selangor state government buildings are equipped with nursery/pre-school facilities. In addition, the Selangor state government also provides childcare subsidies to low-income families (household income below RM2500): (i) Skim Bantuan Tadika Selangor (TUNAS) that provides a RM50/month subsidy for children aged 4 to 6 attending pre-school; and (ii) Skim Bantuan Asuhan Rakyat (Si Kembar)  that provide as RM50/month nursery subsidy for children below 4 years of age.

Such achievements should be applauded. Nevertheless, as the most developed state in Malaysia, we believe there is still room for improving women’s welfare in Selangor especially in the area of childcare. While we understand that childcare is supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the federal government, we believe that we should not wait for things to happen at the federal level, and that we should be more proactive and forward-thinking.

Therefore, on this International Women's Day, DAP Wanita Selangor urges the Selangor State Government to take the lead and set an example in empowering women by providing and promoting quality, affordable and safe childcare. Initiatives should be introduced to encourage the growth of the female workforce in Selangor such as:

i.  Ensuring all buildings belonging to  the Selangor state government are equipped with childcare and pre-school facilities as per our 13th General Election Manifesto; 
ii. Providing a specific allocation in the annual State Budget for the creation of more childcare facilities in low-cost areas; and
iii. Ensuring upcoming Rumah Selangorku developments have space earmarked for childcare facilities.

It is time that mothers who aspire to work be given some tangible support such as affordable and safe childcare, starting with the civil servants working for the State Government. DAP Wanita Selangor looks forward to a more women-friendly workplace in Selangor to harness the best the women workforce can offer in the state's economy.