AS we commemorate Women’s Day this year, it is an opportunity to honour and appreciate the vital and endless contributions women have made to our society.
We note the theme “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow” adopted this year by the United Nations along with Malaysia’s “Break the Bias” because gender-based inequality and discrimination will only hamper the progress of any nation, limit its potential and greatly diminish its future.
We are proud that women in Malaysia have been steadily moving towards full equality across a wide spectrum of social engagements over the past several years, particularly in education and economic participation.
All these despite the challenges over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, where women continue to excel and achieve in academia, business and nearly all sectors of society.
This generation of young women, female students and professionals enjoys greater access to opportunity and advancement than before and they are opening doors and paving the way for future generations to create a better, richer and dynamic nation.
No country can achieve its full potential when only half of its population thrive and contribute to the public sphere. We must do more to ensure that women’s voices are heard and appreciated. We must create an environment for all women to feel safe and are not subjected to any form of harassment, threat or verbal or physical abuse.
Men and women are partners in every way, in relationships, families and societies.
If we hold women back, we are holding back what is possible for our country to accomplish.
However, if we continue to encourage and support them to pursue their aspirations, we will gain much progress with regard to their empowerment in all fields.
We must also recognise the invaluable work women do in their home. Indeed, we cannot replace one bias with another and impose upon women expectations or goals some may not want.
Contributions in education and professional sectors are not more important or valuable than contributions in the domestic sphere. And women who choose to focus their energy and attention on maintaining a stable home and raising children deserve the utmost respect and appreciation.
The choice not to work should not be portrayed as a less productive decision when that decision ultimately helps mould well-adjusted children with good morals who will become the drivers of our future.
Malaysia is one of Asia’s leading countries in the pursuit of gender equality. And we pursue this goal in accordance with our national values and cultures.
Our tradition and faith teach us that women not only hold a high status but also play a crucial role in the healthy development of society and that they must be cherished, nourished and honoured.
If women are treated as “less than”, if they are restricted in following their dreams and ambitions, if they are deprioritised or devalued, the whole society will collapse from the weight of its own lopsided and arrested development.
We join all Malaysians and the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day 2022, both in ovation for the strength and contribution of women and in defence of their right to equality and justice.
Chief Executive Officer, Institut Masa Depan Malaysia
Date: 9 March 2022