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Budget 2022: A Resilient National Recovery for Women

Happy Malaysia Day,

In rebuilding Malaysia after the pandemic, Budget 2022 must focus on resilient recovery through a gender sensitive approach.

This Malaysia Day, Women’s Aid Organisation calls upon the government and the Ministry of Finance in particular to ensure that Budget 2022 is inclusive of all. Budget 2022 must not leave out women, families, and vulnerable communities – and must address gender gaps in our society that have been worsened by the pandemic.

Our new report, Budget 2022: A Resilient National Recovery for Women (available here) outlines three pillars – safeguarding women from violence, ensuring economic participation and employment, and access to mental healthcare services – that must be prioritised in Malaysia’s road to national recovery. The report makes 13 recommendations for Budget 2022, including the following highlights.

Pillar 1: Budget 2022 must strengthen available support services for domestic violence and gender based violence survivors.

The past two years have seen multiple Movement Control Orders (MCOs) and enforced confinement at home in efforts to manage the pandemic. This has exacerbated instances of domestic violence and gender-based violence across Malaysia.

We recommend for Budget 2022:

  • Earmark RM50 million to the Ministry of Health for One-Stop Crisis Centre response, including implementation and a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

  • Commit RM30 million to training modules and management standards for frontline responders (police, medical, and social welfare officers).

  • Allocate emergency funds of RM5 million for services such as national and NGO hotlines in times of crisis, where demand for some hotlines may increase more than three fold.

  • Provide RM30 million to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) to set up crisis shelters for domestic violence survivors. In Budet 2021, RM21 million was allocated to KPWKM; however the programme could not be implemented due to MCO construction restrictions.

Pillar 2: there is a clear need for a gender responsive approach in addressing national employment and job security.

Incentives and subsidies must be provided to address the lack of gender-sensitive hiring and childcare support, to close gender gaps in employment that have worsened due to the pandemic.

Budget 2022 must address women’s participation in the labor force and consider the informal workforce:

  • Allocate RM247 million for childcare programmes, including: RM60 million to build community childcare centres, RM49 million to assist childcare centres meet Covid-19 health and safety SOPs, and RM157 million in allowance for childcare centres and the welfare department (JKM) registered babysitters to purchase essential items, such as food and diapers, to reduce the burden of costs on parents.

  • Invest RM20 million in upskilling and education programmes to better equip women with necessary skills to enter the formal workforce.

  • Raise awareness on the burden of unpaid care work that disproportionately affects women and driving subsidy applications and awareness for women in the informal workforce as part of their 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for Women.

Pillar 3: we must re-emerge with resilience from the pandemic with stronger mental healthcare services, accessibility and awareness particularly for women and children.

Reports suggest that mental illness have soared since the onset of the pandemic, with those reporting suicidal tendencies increasing from 30% to 40% from 2020 to 2021. Women and youth are particularly vulnerable, with women making up 83.5% of the cases of suicide from 2019 to May 2021.

Budget 2022 should:

  • Apportion 2.4% of the national healthcare budget towards mental healthcare. This allocation of approximately RM765 million will put us on par with international standards.

    • RM50 million of this should be allocated to setting up more community mental health centres (MENTARIs) to ensure that the most vulnerable populations, including women who have faced violence, the B40 community, single mothers, and refugees can have access to mental health care.

    • RM9 million towards training an additional 500 mental health professionals who are equipped to counsel and provide interventions for Domestic Violence and Gender-based Violence survivors.

We strongly urge the government to consider these recommendations, to ensure that Budget 2022 provides support to those most adversely affected by the pandemic to thrive.

The pandemic has presented an opportunity to re-evaluate existing systems and structures with a gendered perspective that would benefit the most vulnerable. Budget 2022’s promise of a resilient recovery across Malaysia is a glimmer of hope for all of us and it can only be effective if  no one is left behind.

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About Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

Since 1982, Women’s Aid Organisation has provided free shelter, counselling, and crisis support to women and children who experience abuse. We help women and their children rebuild their lives, after surviving domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and other atrocities. Learning from women’s experiences, we advocate to improve public policies and shift public mindsets. Together, we change lives.

Call the WAO Hotline at 03 3000 8858 or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058 if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse. For more information, visit wao.org.my.

For more information, please contact:

Abinaya Mohan, Head of Campaigns
abinaya@wao.org.my / 016-665 3237

Anis Farid, Research and Advocacy Officer
anis@wao.org.my /  019-3163237

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