Finance Ministry, civil society groups to prep 2023 gender-centric budget for B40

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To protect vulnerable groups and women, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the government will continue with the Action Plan to Address Underage Marriage. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 25, 2022.

THE Finance Ministry (MOF) and women’s rights-related civil society groups have been entrusted with the responsibility to prepare a Gender Responsive Budget for the B40 group starting next year, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced. 

He said the budget initiative, which will be based on gender-disaggregated data, will identify the target group and distribute the allocations according to the needs of the recipients with significant numbers. 

“This is not just for single mothers, but also single fathers if their number shows a significant increase in the community,” he said at the National Women’s Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur today, which was graced by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

Ismail said the government will improve and fine-tune existing policies, legislation and programmes to be more gender-sensitive, including by reviewing the National Women Policy and in formulating gender-sensitive bills. 

Among them are the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill, which was recently passed in Parliament, and the Anti-Stalking Bill, which was been tabled for first reading at Dewan Rakyat on August 4. 

The prime minister said the government will continue with the Action Plan to Address Underage Marriage, with Kedah having made an amendment to the Islamic family law enactment, which provides protection to weak and vulnerable groups. 

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“It is hoped that it will be emulated by other states so that underage marriage issues can be addressed,” he said. 

While admitting there is room for improvement, Ismail said the national agenda to empower women, who are the pillar of the country’s development, has always been a priority for the government. 

He said this includes the establishment of the National Women’s Council, National Women’s Executive Committee and state women’s working committees to empower the roles of women at the federal and state levels. 

“The government has also allocated RM13 million specifically for the Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11) of the police to ensure investigations into sex crimes involving women and children can be done more effectively,” he said.

Ismail said the government is concerned and has taken the initiative to ensure that victims of domestic violence receive immediate protection by setting up one-stop social support centres that provide psychosocial services to Malaysian families across the country.

He said 591,000 individuals from the target group, especially women, have benefited from the services, especially guidance and counselling.

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