Women not at work

Women not at work

IF you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito," the late Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop empire once said.

Going by her reasoning, every woman - no matter how big or small their position in the workforce - has the potential to create an impact in her field or industry.

But what is worrying experts is the fact that there aren't enough women in the Malaysian workforce today.

According to the "Malaysia Economic Monitor: Unlocking Women's Potential" report, at least 500,000 and as many as 2.3 million Malaysian women are "absent" from the labour market.

"The impact of these absent women in Malaysia's talent pool could be as large as the 'brain drain' of Malaysians who migrate to overseas job markets," states the report released on Thursday by the World Bank.

Malaysian women, it notes, have the lowest participation rate in the labour market compared with our Asean neighbours or other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries (refer to chart).

It adds that Malaysia's level of labour force participation among women "is the lowest in East Asia and below the level that would be expected given its level of development".

The report highlights the reverse gender gap in university enrolment - more Malaysian women (45.4%) have a tertiary education than men (35.2%).

Additionally, Malaysia is the only country in East Asia with an age-participation profile that declines steadily after early adulthood.

"In most developed countries, the pattern of female labour force participation over the lifecycle tends to show an initial peak in early years, when women enter the labour force, then a decline as they marry and have children, but a second peak as they re-enter the labour force after childbirth," the report elaborates.

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