Helping women restart careers: Inspiration from Malaysia

Malaysia has made significant progress in the eight years in increasing the number of women in the workforce – thanks to several Government initiatives rolled out to enhance the contribution of women to Malaysia’s economy and promote greater inclusiveness in the workforce.

In line with the objective of inclusiveness in the New Economic Model, which emphasises diversity as a source of strength, the Government introduced various measures to encourage the corporate sector to strive for greater inclusiveness, especially at leadership and top management levels.

An important set of measures implemented by Malaysia include those to help women rejoin the workforce, after taking a break to attend to family duties. These measures followed a study that found that almost 67% of married women gave up jobs to look after their children, and to comply to their husbands’ request that they stop working. And 63% of these women aged between 25 to 39 years old, the golden age where women were at the peak of their careers.

So the Government has introduced the following set of measures to help women return to work:

– In Budget 2015, the Prime Minister announced the Career Comeback programme to incentivise employers to recruit and retain women who have been on career breaks. Together with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MoWFCD), TalentCorp introduced two grants – the Resourcing Grant and the Retention Grant – to encourage employers to attract and retain women who have been on career breaks for more than six months.

The initiative was launched in 2013 to promote awareness of work-life integration and sharing of employers’ best practices of flexible work arrangements

Housewife Enhancement and Reactive Talent Scheme (HEARTS) provides housewives with skillsets to return to work 

Starting from 2019, the Government will give individual tax exemptions of up to 12 months to women who return to work