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Current Speeches


Venue  :  Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, PWTC
Date  :  04/12/2017



Assalammualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,

and Salam 1Malaysia,


YABhg. Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor,


YBhg. Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Chairman of Women In Politics 2017, Advisor on Women Entrepreneurs and Professional Development in the Prime Minister’s Department and Head of Wanita UMNO Malaysia.


YBhg. Datin Paduka Datuk Nor Hayati Tan Sri Onn,

Chairperson of the Organising Committee of WIPKL 2017




Distinguished Speakers, Friends,


Ladies and Gentlemen.


  1. First of all let me welcome you all to the International Conference on Women in Politics 2017, or WIPKL 2017, and let me say how pleased I am to see so many of you here again for this conference that addresses such an important issue.


Ladies and gentlemen,


  1. We cannot but be aware that we live in times of great, and increasingly fast change. When we see our children using a smart phone quicker than we can – machines that didn’t even exist in their current form only a decade ago – or when we see them making their home-made videos and uploading them unto their own YouTube Channel, we know it is because of the internet revolution.


  1. But now another revolution - the Fourth Industrial Revolution or IR 4.0 - is upon us. We cannot wait. We must ready ourselves and embrace it immediately, for the future waits for no one.



  1. So let me congratulate Wanita UMNO, the Women’s Wing of UMNO, for organising this international event and focussing clearly on this crucial theme - “Women and IR 4.0: Leadership and Substantive Equality”.


  1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents both great opportunities and great costs for those who are not prepared for it. As Professor Robert J Shiller, the 2013 Nobel laureate in economics, has said: “You cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance on it. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”


  1. A recent report by the World Economic Forum also identified that women may be more adversely affected by IR 4.0 than men, and that is why we need to make more of an effort to address talent requirements and gender gaps to ensure that we make the most of our female workforce. Every opportunity must be there for them to be educated, recruited and promoted.
  2. The moral case for gender equality has, in the most part, been won. The business and economic case is also increasingly understood. The Fourth Industrial Revolution now requires that we place women’s equal participation in the workplace at the very heart of our preparations for the coming changes.


  1. As we look forward and begin to plan far into the future with our TN50 initiative or Transformasi Nasional 2050, it is vital that we see women as equal partners and drivers of the growth that must be shared by all our citizens. For it should be obvious to everyone that if the full contribution of women is not realised, countries will not unlock their full potential.


  1. To do that, we must challenge gender bias and inequality, move towards substantive equality for women, campaign against violence against women, celebrate women’s achievements, and champion women’s rights for equal education.


  1. We have made great efforts, and Malaysia has a strong track record when it comes to women’s rights. I am delighted to state that in the public sector, women now fill 35 percent of top management posts.


  1. In fact I am told that if the police and military services are excluded, women officers make up the majority of the civil service, at 57.5 percent. So we are heading in the right direction. But we want to go further, especially at the higher levels.


  1. We launched the Malaysian Chapter of the 30 Percent Club, which aims to achieve better gender balances at all levels of organisations. I want, for instance, to see women make up 30 percent of the boards of all public listed companies. On this we are currently behind target.


  1. So I have warned that from next year, the Government will name and shame PLCs which do not have women as board members. They may, I have warned, not be given government contracts.


  1. This strategy to increase the number of women in top management posts and on company boards is about strengthening our capability. It is not just a gender issue, nor is it just about ensuring our culture and practices are non-discriminatory. It is ultimately also about productivity.


  1. For empirical evidence shows that diverse teams produce better outcomes. A considerable body of research has demonstrated that organisations with a critical mass of women in senior management perform more strongly, across a range of markers, than organisations with less gender diversity at a high level.


  1. We understand the barriers to gender equality, and so we have introduced specific measures to address unconscious bias and ensure women are getting the right experience and support to advance their careers. Policies and practices around workforce planning, promotions and postings are reviewed and adjusted to support substantive equality.


Ladies and gentlemen,


  1. The Government has always recognised the crucial role played by Malaysian women, both in advancing our national development and in nurturing future generations. Our Economic Transformation would simply not be possible without their contributions.


  1. Under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016 to 2020), the Government of Malaysia has set out a strategy to increase women’s participation in the labour force to 59 percent by the year 2020. And I’m glad to say that since this Government took office in 2009, women have already made great strides.


  1. Over that period, the female labour force participation rate has increased from 46 percent to 54.3 percent last year — which is over 700,000 more women in the workforce. This means we are on track to achieve our target.


  1. But to keep on that path it is vital that we make the most of IR 4.0 by encouraging and nurturing more women entrepreneurs, because technological advances today have made the playing field much more level for women.


  1. The ability to create and sell products to a global market, which would once have required much capital expenditure – investing in expensive physical shop fronts in choice locations and significant marketing costs – can now be as simple as setting up an online business on an E-commerce platform.


  1. Anyone can do it, men or women, and we are determined to make sure women can make the most of their potential in this ever expanding sector.


  1. This is why the Government is developing capacity building initiatives through various ministries and agencies to create, promote and nurture more women entrepreneurs. The latest is our exciting partnership with Jack Ma of Alibaba Group to create the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone outside of China, which will allow our entrepreneurs to leverage on Alibaba’s global E-commerce platform.


  1. The recent November 11 Singles’ Day sale by Alibaba was a new world record of $25 billion in just one day, with over 800 million orders recorded. Imagine just a small percentage of those 800 million orders being processed and delivered from the DFTZ in Malaysia, and you can see what a real boost to business that would be for us.


  1. When Jack Ma was here recently to launch the DFTZ with me, he told me that Alibaba will promote Malaysian products in a special “Malaysia Week” next year. This means that for one whole week in 2018, people from all over the world - or at least the 500 million shoppers who are active on Alibaba - will hear, read and learn more about Malaysian products, food, and culture.


  1. I am confident that out of these 500 million active shoppers, many will be drawn to buy some of the Malaysian products available on the Alibaba platform. That is why our Ministry of International Trade and Industry is targeting 10,000 entrepreneurs to register with Alibaba Group through our DFTZ to be ready in time for the Malaysia Week next year.


  1. The number of active shoppers on Alibaba is expected to increase to over 800 million by 2020, so it is good news that we are poised to tap into it. This ability to create locally and sell globally, will empower individuals, small and medium sized businesses, and companies of all sizes, and it should also be a major source of job growth for women in the coming years.


Ladies and gentlemen,


  1. We already have some amazing success stories of Malaysian women - like Neelofa, who created a worldwide phenomenon by selling her scarves and designer hijabs. We have Vivy Yusof, another successful entrepreneur, of Fashion Valet fame; and Tan Hooi Ling, the co-founder of GRAB, which is well known as a major competitor and rival for UBER in many cities in the world.


  1. I want to see many more women entrepreneurs, of all generations, who will follow in the footsteps of these successful women, and I am sure that there will be many among the first 10,000 entrepreneurs to be registered with Alibaba’s E-commerce platform.



Ladies and gentlemen,


  1. Women play a crucial role in both family and national wellbeing. So, to recognise that contribution, the Government has designated 2018 as Women Empowerment Year.


  1. Accordingly, in the recent Budget, I announced several initiatives to be implemented as follows:


  1. First: we will require at least 30 percent of the boards of directors of GLCs and GLICs, as well as statutory bodies, to be made up of women by the end of 2018;


  1. Second: we proposed that maternity leave for the private sector be increased from 60 days to 90 days, as it is in the public sector;


  1. Third: a sum of RM20 million has been allocated to conduct training and entrepreneurship programmes, including the PEAK Entrepreneur Programme under the MyWin Academy; and


  1. Fourth: in order to encourage women who have been on a career break for at least two years to return to the workforce, the Government proposed that their earnings be exempt from income tax for up to 12 months. The incentive is available for women who return to the workforce between the year of assessment 2018 to 2020.


  1. As it is, in the past we have implemented plans to improve access to the job market for all women: from skills-training for housewives and entrepreneurship opportunities for single mothers; to micro-credit facilities for women in rural communities; to training programmes for high-level professionals, and making it easier for child care centres to be set up in the private sector.


  1. In terms of women in politics, we would like to see more participating, as their presence would better reflect the electorate and make the political process more inclusive, thus strengthening our democracy.


  1. UMNO itself has long relied on its women’s wing for maintaining grassroots relationships, particularly in the rural areas, and that is why Wanita UMNO is known as the backbone of our party.


  1. For our nation to progress meaningfully, we cannot leave any one behind – especially women. This reminds me of the wise words of Pakistan’s first leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who said: “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”


  1. We certainly want Malaysia to rise to the heights of glory, and we are thankful for the support, encouragement and leadership shown by the women of Malaysia. Together we shall work to achieve the bright future that we want for all our people – a future of confidence, hope and opportunity, in which all can thrive and all are cared for.


  1. On that note, I am pleased to officially open this International Conference on Women in Politics 2017, and I look forward to hearing the fresh ideas and insights for the advancement and further empowerment of women that I’m sure your deliberations will produce.


Thank you.

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