The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has called on cabinet ministers to support the proposal for seven days of paternity leave, following Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran’s announcement that he would bring the proposal to the cabinet for approval.
“We thank Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran for his commitment to bring the seven-day paternity leave proposal to the cabinet. We now call on cabinet ministers to support the proposal,” said WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan.
Sumitra added that paternity leave promotes the sharing of parenting responsibilities, which improves the wellbeing of families.
“Paternity leave will enable fathers to play an active role during childbirth and to adjust to the monumental life changes that accompany fatherhood.”
“Various studies show that children with involved fathers have better social, emotional and cognitive development and perform better in school.”
“Introducing paternity leave also sends the message that care-giving is a shared responsibility. Such changes in social norms would help women to stay in the workforce, which is one of the goals of Budget 2020.”
The Khazanah Research Institute estimates that a whopping 2,563,800 women in Malaysia were not working due to “housework or family responsibilities”—compared to just 69,800 men.
Sumitra added that keeping women in the workforce would benefit the economy in the long-run.
According to the World Bank, Malaysia’s income per capita could increase by 26.2%, if we were to close the gender gap in economic opportunities. About three-quarters of this increase would result from enabling women to enter and stay in the workforce.
Currently, fathers in the private sector are not legally entitled to any paternity leave while fathers in the public sector enjoy seven days of paid paternity leave.
On 13 November, the WAO presented a petition for seven days of paternity leave to Kula Segaran. The petition, which is available here bit.ly/rights4parents, has garnered over 41,000 signatures.
Paternity leave is common in many countries. Singapore has two weeks of paid paternity leave; Myanmar, 15 days; and the Philippines, between seven to 14 days.