KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) calls upon the government to come up with a gender equality law as soon as possible as a mechanism to protect discrimination against women, particularly in the workforce.

Its Executive Committee Member Mary Shanthi Dairiam said Malaysia has an obligation to enact such a law as it had rectified among international conventions that provides for equality or non-discrimination where women are concerned.

Looking at the current level of gender equality in the country, Mary who is also the Director of International Women’s Right Action Watch Asia Pacific said women were still lagging far behind the men in the workforce.

“We need to find why despite the level of education women’s participation is only 20 per cent compared to men and women don’t get into high level, high paying jobs,” she said adding that the matter was briefed to the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) after attending a briefing session with the council today.

In April, former Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said there was a plan by the Barisan Nasional government to draft a gender equality bill to balance the roles of men and women in the nation’s development but the bill was postponed.

Meanwhile, WAO Acting Executive Director Yu Ren Chung believed the proposed law which the government was already working on right now would solve a lot of issues pertaining to discrimination against women.

They include the recent incident where a teenager’s right to freedom was allegedly prevented by the police, he said this referring to the case involving lawyer Siti Kassim who was accused of kidnapping her 24-year old client. Siti claimed she in fact had helped to rescue the 24-year old woman from her mother.

Yu also said that during the briefing session, WAO represented by him and Mary also suggested to the CEP to push forward to the government the idea to enact a comprehensive sexual harassment law.

Explaining further, he said, he said the current law in the country was inadequate and only covers workplace and Peninsular Malaysia.

“So we want to follow the global trend in enacting comprehensive sexual harassment act that will cover the whole of Malaysia and not just in the workplace, but in the university, school and Parliament,” he said.

Source: Nam News Network