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International Women's Day!
Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) Press Staement - March 10, 2014
Women who have contributed towards the well being of the country have been short changed in terms of their own well being. Working 12 hours or more generally and on physically exerting as well as mundane jobs, these women struggle to make ends meet. Agricultural workers, factory workers, service sector workers as well as workers from the unorganised sector earn low incomes. There is no proper implementation of minimum wages. Even if there is, the RM900 is not sufficient to meet basic needs. Take the case of women and their children who wash dishes at the back of some restaurants long into the night. How much do they earn? Where should these women and children be at that time of the night.
Housing is another issue, in particular for single mothers who pay high rentals in comparison to the low income earned. Some rent a room or just stay with a relative.
Children's nutrition is compromised as revealed in a recent preliminary study conducted by PSM. One group of women, that is single mothers, can only provide plain tea or plain coffee even for children as young as two when these children should be provided with milk. Fruit is almost a delicacy for most. Vegetables are consumed occasionally. Fish too is a rarity. A country is judged by how it treats its children. A mother is forced to feed children eggs, salted fish, anchovies, appalam and pickles and provide just water. It is scandalous. As children need nutrition for their development, they start life not only with a handicap but also on unleveled playing fields which often continues into adulthood. We have grandmothers who give testimony to this statement. A pension scheme should be extended to women who have worked hard for the country but who today are living in poverty. PSM as a party with the people in the struggle recommends that the government pay urgent attention and rectify immediately the gap in nutrition for children by providing higher welfare allocations. The current allocation of RM100 (minimum) and maximum RM400 per month is used up for transport expenses too school. It is insufficient to meet nutrition requirements of children. Hence children are compromised intellectually, physically, mentally and emotionally. What a shame!
PSM strongly recommends a higher welfare allocation. Expensive transport to school isn't the only reason why we say that welfare help is insufficient. PSM also recommends that houses are provided at nominal rentals for poor women, in particular, single mothers.
Women's safety: Women have real fears walking alone at any time of the day or night. Their fears are justified as they have become targets of petty thefts, snatch thieves and molesting/rape. We cannot close our eyes to those whose lives were snatched away as they rode to work or walked home from work. Women's safety should not be compromised. PSM demands that the government play a bigger role to assure the safety of women. Apart from ensuring safety of our streets and public spaces, there must be programmes which gear towards respect of women.
Finally, root causes must be dealt with immediately. Many problems have their roots in early childhood. Proper care facilities must be provided including community child care centres. PSM thus advocates for the right of women to a fair share of the nation's wealth as well as the respect due them. PSM is with women in their struggle.
Veronica Anne Retnam
Women's Desk, Parti Sosialis Malaysia