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Women, Poverty and Economic Development. Madeline Berma Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia [email protected] The status of women in society is a good indicator of a dynamic and progressive country. Women are the cornerstone of happy families and the essence of a successful nation.

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Women poverty and economic development

Women, Poverty and Economic Development

Madeline Berma

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

[email protected]


  • The status of women in society is a good indicator of a dynamic and progressive country. Women are the cornerstone of happy families and the essence of a successful nation.

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib


“Increasing gender equality and women’s empowerment, as a means of accelerating growth and development, is an end in itself”

Asha-Rose Migiro

Deputy Secretary-General


Malaysia one of the emerging “Tigers” in Asia in terms of its economic achievements.


Economic growth
Economic Growth

  • Income: USD3,380

  • Social:

    • Educational level has risen,

    • Equal opportunities provided for both males and females.

    • Improvement in health conditions


Economic growth1
Economic Growth

  • Change in size and structure of households.

  • Predominance of nuclear households in place of extended households,

  • Emergence of:

    • single member households

    • female-headed households

    • “Ibu tunggal” vs “Ibu tinggal” –

    • “Indai blues” (Sarawak?)

  • Economic Shocks

  • Poverty


Women poverty and economic development1
Women, Poverty and Economic Development

  • Economic Participation

  • Globalisation

  • Economic Shocks

  • Poverty


A economic participation
(a) Economic Participation

  • Labor force participation

    • Women - 47 percent

    • Men - 80 percent

  • Employment

    • Manufacturing

    • Other services





Women poverty and economic development2
Women, Poverty and Economic Development 2005 (%)

  • Economic Participation

  • Globalisation

  • Economic Shocks

  • Poverty


Globalisation
Globalisation 2005 (%)

  • Market Fragmentation – (niche)

  • Outsourcing, downsizing, subcontract

  • Use of ICT

  • New jobs

    • functional flexibility (multiskilling)

    • numeric flexibility (adjusting quantities by task)

    • financial flexibility (wage rate adjustment)

    • More part time, short-term, temporary jobs


A globalisation
(a) Globalisation 2005 (%)

  • Competitiveness

    • women are now a permanent part of the global workforce

    • women workers are the engine of globalisation –

    • Preponderance of women in export oriented industries

    • Increase in women in the workforce

    • Economic independence vs double burden

    • Women workers suffer the worst working conditions, poorest pay and have to care for children and other dependants.


Global subcontracting network
Global Subcontracting Network 2005 (%)

Source: Oxfam International, 2004;



Women poverty and economic development3
Women, Poverty and Economic Development 2005 (%)

  • Economic Participation

  • Globalisation

  • Economic Shocks

  • Poverty


B economic shocks
(b) Economic Shocks 2005 (%)

  • Women are high risk

  • Concentrate in export-oriented industries (electronics, garment) and services; men in construction.

  • women as “buffer workforce” - concentrated in non-regular employment, in unskilled and semi-skilled jobs, and in low pay levels.

  • unlikely to be covered by social insurance

  • Will be the first to lose their job and to suffer heavily from a decline in level of living.

  • Very limited alternative job prospects


B economic shocks1
(b) Economic Shocks 2005 (%)

  • High social costs to families of workers

  • Male-breadwinner, female-caregiver bias

  • Increased demand for women: a cheaper labour substitute for men’s labour?

  • Unpaid care work & women’s double burden: heavier for the poor in hard times, their time will be stretched between paid work and unpaid care work at the cost of the welfare of young children and the sick and their own personal health.




Percentage of surveyed manufacturing smes response to crisis 2008
Percentage of Surveyed Manufacturing SMEs Response to Crisis, 2008

Source: Adapted from Hafsah, 2009 (Public Lecture at UKM)

Source: Adapted from Hafsah, 2009 (Public Lecture at UKM)


Surveyed smes response to the global crisis 2008
Surveyed SMEs Response to the Global Crisis, 2008 Crisis, 2008

Source: Adapted from Hafsah, 2009 (Public Lecture at UKM)


Retrenchment of workers from 1 st october 2008 30 th june 2009
Retrenchment of Workers from Crisis, 20081st October 2008 – 30th June 2009

Source: Ragayah & Faridah (2010)


Retrenchment by Category of Occupation, Citizenship Crisis, 2008

and Gender, January – July 2009

Source: Ragayah & Faridah (2010)


Women poverty and economic development4
Women, Poverty and Economic Development Crisis, 2008

  • Economic Participation

  • Globalisation

  • Economic Shocks

  • Poverty


C poverty
(c) Poverty Crisis, 2008

  • Poor and vulnerable

    • Children

    • Elderly

    • Handicapped

    • Indigenous

    • female-headed households


C poverty1
(c) Poverty Crisis, 2008

  • Micro-finance for micro-businessess : “valuable lifeline” for women

  • Fear reduction in supply of loans for microfinance.

  • Withdrawal of subsidies


Income Per Capita, 2000 Crisis, 2008(US$)


Incidence Crisis, 2008of Poverty in Malaysia, 1970 – 2004


C poverty2
(c) Poverty Crisis, 2008

  • Emerging households (single-headed, nuclear family) important in a study on poverty

  • Invisibility in statistics:

    • An older woman living with adult children is more likely to be listed as a household head rather than a younger woman who has to bear economic responsibility for herself and her children.

    • A woman is seldom listed as the household head in the presence of a regular adult male of the same generation (Tey, 1991, p. 11).

  • Malaysia – targetted poverty


C poverty3
(c) Poverty Crisis, 2008

  • Female Headed Households:

    • Households with no male spouse or partner present at any time;

    • Households where the male partner is a transient resident;

    • Households from which the male spouse or partner is temporarily absent;

    • Households in which the male spouse or partner is present, but his contribution to the economic maintenance of the household is marginal;

    • Households from which the male spouse or partner is absent, but one or more adult males are in residence.


C poverty4
(c) Poverty Crisis, 2008

  • Social issues:

    • Ibu tunggal vs ibu tinggal

    • Indai blues and family breakdown – (Indigenous communities, Sarawak)


C poverty5
(c) Poverty Crisis, 2008

  • The government targets to create 4,000 women entrepreneurs among the hardcore poor, who are those with a household monthly income of less than RM440, by 2012.

  • (Bernama, 17 March, 2010


Women in development plans
Women in Development Plans Crisis, 2008

  • Sixth Malaysia Plan: “…Since women constitute a vital economic resource, the Government’s goal is therefore to integrate women as equal partners in nation building.”

  • Eighth Malaysia Plan: “ … Women constitute an important resource that can be mobilized … as equal partners in national development”

  • Ninth Malaysia Plan:“important resource that can be mobilised to achieve the national development agenda”

  • Tenth Malaysia Plan: “Empowering women a key agenda by increasing numbers in decision making, labour force, support for widows, single mothers and low-income women…Eliminating all forms of discrimination against women


Putrajaya declaration
Putrajaya Declaration Crisis, 2008

Survey Output


SURVEY OUTPUT : Crisis, 2008

EXPERT GROUP SURVEY ON PUTRAJAYA DECLARATION


Key questions
Key Questions Crisis, 2008

  • Key issues raised in the Putrajaya Declaration

  • Other key questions

    • What is the role of women’s income in total household income?

    • Does the male breadwinner-female caregiver model fits reality?

    • Family coping mechanism in times of crisis – who will do what?

    • How to respond with a gender perspective?

    • How to engage women in social dialogue and participation in managing and addressing economic crisis – Women’s voices?

    • Why is there a need to conduct gender-dissagregated analysis of labor impact.


Thank you
Thank You Crisis, 2008


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