August 26, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – An action plan to address underage marriage is in the works, with policies and legislation also being formulated to make them more gender sensitive, says the Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all states should address child marriage issues, pointing out that Kedah had already gotten the ball rolling.
“I hope this will be followed by other states to ensure that the problem of underage marriage can be resolved,” he said at the 60th National Women’s Day Celebration held here yesterday.
Gracing the event was Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.
On July 18, the Kedah State Assembly passed the amendment to the Islamic Family Law Enactment Bill 2022 on the age limit for marriage and polygamy law.
Among others, the amendment raised the age of marriage for women from 16 years to 18. Punishment was also introduced for polygamy without prior permission from the court.
Ismail Sabri said the Federal Government would do its part by continuing to improve legislation and spearheading more gender- sensitive programmes.
He said these included the review and renewal of the National Women’s Policy and the drafting of gender-sensitive bills.
“For example, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill 2021 was passed with a majority in the Dewan Rakyat on July 20 and the Dewan Negara on Aug 11.
“The anti-stalking Bill was also tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Aug 4,” the Prime Minister said.
Ismail Sabri added that to address issues related to female participation in the labour force, gender would be mainstreamed in the planning and implementation of the government’s policies as well as initiatives.
He said this would be done through the introduction of a Gender Focal Point and a Gender Focal Team at every ministry, as approved by the government.
“Malaysia is currently facing a challenge because while females comprise 47.7% of the total population, only 55.1% within this populace was in the labour market as of 2021.
“This rate is lower compared with Singapore’s 69.7% and Thailand’s 66.8%,” he said.
While the enrolment rate of women at all education levels was high, the same was not reflected in the labour market, Ismail Sabri added.
He also said the Finance Ministry and women-related NGOs had been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a gender-responsive Budget for the B40 group starting next year.
He said the budget initiative, which would be based on gender- disaggregated data, would identify the target groups and distribute the allocations according to the needs of the recipients.