Strategies to tackle concerns

The Women's Agenda for Change also updates strategies to tackle long-standing concerns of women in areas that have direct impact upon their lifestyle and decision-making abilities.

Development action plan

* Introduce alternative developmental strategies that empower women, minimise adverse impacts of trade liberalization, demystify trade agendas and monitor trade negotiations and related issues that affect all.

* Develop transparency and accountability in all economic, financial and social policies, trade and business deals, budget processes and financial policies between and among the public and private sectors.

* Facilitate, support, protect and promote gender-sensitive policies and measures to empower women as equal partners with men, especially in access to land, ownership, control over resources, market and trade.

* Promote an equitable relationship for both men and women in terms of sharing work and family responsibilities and eliminate factors which subordinate women.

* Revise Occupation Classification Categories to better reflect the changing spectrum of skills of labour in general and women in particular.

Environment action plan

* Review development and economic activities and make a genuine commitment to protect the environment and move towards sustainable development.

* Improve policies on forest protection, conservation and management; and introduce eco-tourism and social forestry programmes to meet industry and human needs.

* Adopt a strategy of ecologically balanced and controlled growth on people-centered principles that emphasize the needs and contributions of communities and women.

* Sensitise public and private agencies on the women's perspective in environmental and development issues, with a gender-sensitive approach at all levels.

* Conduct research and documentation of the linkages between women's lives and the environment so that strategies reflect their perspectives.

AIDS action plan

* Involve women, especially those with HIV/AIDS, in decision-making processes on the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of gender policies and programmes on HIV/AIDS.

* Ensure that women's groups are represented in the National Consultative Council on AIDS and establish a working group to mainstream gender perspectives into policies and programmes.

* Conduct gender sensitisation programmes to raise consciousness and create awareness of the rights and responsibilities of men and women in HIV/AIDS prevention, and promote safer sex practices.

* Review and update all educational modules and curricula and make them gender sensitive. Include complete and accurate information on safe sexual and reproductive health and behaviour.

* Conduct gender sensitisation training for medical personnel and teach the media to report issues with sensitivity.

* Encourage voluntary testing and provide accessible and confidential testing facilities to dispel myths and to emphasize that all are vulnerable.

* Ensure that support services are available to women with HIV/AIDS and their families.

* Increase resource allocation to provide educational and support programmes for dadah [drug] users, sex workers and other marginalised groups.

Health and sexuality action plan

* Institute public policies that recognise and respect the reproductive and health rights of women, and empower them in relationships with parents, husbands, partners.

* Implement programmes for government agencies and medical and religious institutions.

* Provide facilities that increase women's access to information, education, and services so they can exercise reproductive decision-making safely and freely.

* Institute policies and guidelines, and run gender sensitisation courses to reorient perspectives of government and health personnel who obstruct women from exercising reproductive and sexual rights.

* Develop health and education systems which create supportive environments to explore sexuality and reproductive health issues, with ready access to related information and services.

* Introduce sex education classes and civic, moral and religious studies. The Government must include women's groups involved in women's health and women's rights issues in designing the curriculum.

Legislation action plan

* Implement fully the National Policy on Women, CEDAW and the Global Platform for Action and amend article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to recognise that sex should not be a basis for discrimination.

* Review and reform all civil and Syariah laws including procedures that discriminate against women, in open and transparent consultation with women's groups.

* Amend Syariah laws that discriminate against women, using as a basis the principles of equality, justice , freedom and virtue as enjoined by the Quran.

* Institute a uniform Islamic Family Law for all States and resolve the conflict of jurisdiction between civil and Syariah laws.

* Set up a Family Court to deal with matrimonial cases of both Muslims and non-Muslims. Appoint women as judges in Syariah courts.

* Provide gender sensitisation training for legal, judicial and enforcement officials delivering services to women.

Violence against women action plan

* Introduce gender sensitisation training programmes in schools and the workplace (especially for the judiciary, police, welfare and medical personnel) to eliminate prejudices and stereotyping of roles for men and women.

* Conduct preventive education for the community to eliminate violence against women.

* Raise awareness among young children about sexual abuse.

* Ensure that One Stop Crisis Centres in Government hospitals have trained staff and funding for effective low-cost emergency and counseling services for victims of rape, domestic violence, incest and sexual abuse.

* Support, provide and maintain well-run women's crisis shelters and counseling services.

* Review and reform existing laws and administrative procedures so that victims of violence have access to protection and support under the law.

* Ensure effective implementation of laws on violence - the Penal Code, laws related to rape, the Evidence Act and the Domestic Violence Act 1994.

* Formulate and implement sexual harassment policies and develop programmes and procedures to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace and educational institutions.

* Encourage the portrayal of women in the media to represent the diversity of women, and not limit the portrayal to sexist stereotypes.

Religion and culture action plan

* Recognise, revise and rectify discriminatory laws, rulings policies and practices which discriminate against women.

* Encourage and support women to study religious texts and include women in the interpretation and codification of these texts and edicts.

* Review the formal and informal education of the clergy and religious educators to ensure that training materials and programmes reflect justice and equality for women, and take into account the changing role and realities of women's lives in the family, community and nation.

* Review and rewrite school curricula, textbooks and teaching materials for religion, moral education, living skills and other subjects to eliminate discrimination against women and reflect equality instead.

* Appoint sufficient numbers of women who are gender-sensitive to committees, institutions and councils which formulate and enact policies and laws that impact upon women.

* Ensure that the formulation, interpretation and implementation of religious laws and court decisions are just, equitable and compassionate to women in keeping with the spirit of these laws.

The above appeared in the New Straits Times, a Malaysian daily newspaper dated 16 May 1999.