• Malaysian Bureau of Labour Statistics
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Research and Development

Riyanti Saari, Nur Layali Mohd Ali Khan

Female Labour Force Participation Rate in Malaysia: Where are we?


Recognising the prominence impact of women in socioeconomic growth and nation building, gender equality is included as a core element of the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Although the overall well-being of women saw improvement in areas such as health and education, women is still at a disadvantage in the world of work. Globally, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) for women is 50 per cent. At the national level, women’s LFPR has increased from 45.0 per cent in 1982 to 54.7 per cent in 2017. A World Bank 2012 study estimated that women’s greater participation could provide a growth dividend of up to 0.4 per cent a year.

Accordingly, enhancing the role of women in development is one of the priority areas in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan. In line with the global and national aspirations, policies and programmes are reviewed and formulated to further elevate women’s involvement in Malaysia’s workforce. These initiatives targeted to lift women LFPR to 56.4 per cent by 2020. Therefore, this study will observe the trend and pattern of women’s participation in the labour force from 1982 to 2017 based on the Labour Force Survey data. It will elaborate on the labour force demographic, geographic and socioeconomic characteristics of women. In addition, this paper will include the comparison of women’s involvement in the labour market in selected countries.

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