NAWEM's Presentation at the ASEAN Conference

NAWEM’s Presentation at the ASEAN Conference on Women Empowerment and Economic Participation, Employability and Entrepreneurship.

Manila Conference2The key informant, Andal Krishnan who represented NAWEM, was given a set of questions to use as trigger points for the presentation

Scope of Discussion: Urban females
Presentation time 5 minutes and then panel discussion

(a) What is empowerment from the perspective of Malaysia based on the NAWEM experience?
Being or leading towards financial independence and self-sufficiency;
Being able to make informed choices and not allow coercion;
Having access to financial resources and control of resources available;
Growing in self - worth;
Sustaining and protecting their wealth;
Being courageous and not susceptible to violence and abuse; and
Creating norms that will be passed on to the next generation of women.

(b) Are women empowered or in the process of being empowered in Malaysia
Although in terms of education, the female population in Malaysia has a higher level of education, with 70% of the student population in tertiary institutions being women, this is not translated in the work force;
There is a 30% women participation requirement in senior positions. Although the number is almost 26 %, the impressive figure is because of senior women numbers in government departments and agencies;
Child care is another concern as there is an insufficient support system;
Equal salary for equal work in both the private and government sectors. However the retention in the workforce of women in middle and senior management is low;
Stereotyping: It is prevalent. So certain jobs may be gender biased, especially in promotion. Women prefer to stay at a comfortable level where the family may not be uprooted;
Nevertheless the employment statistics show that women form 54 % of the workforce; and
But economic contribution to GDP is below 10%.

(c) How friendly is the access to economic opportunities and resources
There are micro credit institutions for women (such as Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia) and they have many rags to riches stories;
Commercial banks however tend to view women in business with trepidation unless it is a family business and a husband and wife team runs it;
Matrade and SME banks have special windows for women. But takers are few;
Women take less risks and hence their desire to stay in the comfort zone- taking the business from a small enterprise to a medium enterprise is not happening;
There is fragmentation of data, implementation on women empowerment policies; and
So we need more awareness of what is available for women to increase their wealth.

(d) How NAWEM plays its role in the women entrepreneurship arena
1. In a multi racial country, NAWEM is an effective national association because of its inclusivity.
2. We are the implementing partners for government agencies for the capacity and capability skills building programmes which include soft skills and mentoring for women to start micro and small enterprises.
3. We also work with private organisations for their CSR programmes to train marginalised women in skills that will allow them to start their own business and work from home;
4. For our members, we are a conduit to help with business transformation and networking. We have training programmes that promote sustainable and green business. Also programmes that give them opportunities for personal and professional development; and
5. We have provisions for seed funding in the form of equipment and start up resources.

Hence NAWEM’s presence here in the ASEAN Conference in Manila.