Plight of working class women remain unresolved after 100 years – Joint Statement

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Dated 8 March 2017

Versi BM

Pic from Aliran.

Pic from Aliran.

Cabaran wanita kelas pekerja belum selesai sejak 100 tahun yang dulu

Kenyataan bersama NGO dan parti politik kepada Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat sempena Hari Wanita Sedunia 2017.

Walaubagaimanapun, kami amat terkilan kerana isu-isu yang telah diperjuangkan oleh kaum wanita 100 tahun yang lalu pada tahun 1917 di Russia menuntut “makanan (roti) dan keamanan” masih dialami oleh kaum wanita pada tahun 2017 ini. Perjuangan wanita Russia pada 8 Mac,1917 telah menjadi pencetus perjuangan yang telah menjatuhkan pemerintah Tsar Russia yang kejam pada ketika itu.

Perjuangan untuk keperluan asas untuk hidup masih relevan sekarang dimana majoriti wanita golongan pekerja berpendapatan rendah, ibu tunggal dan kaum ibu miskin kota menghadapi kesukaran setiap hari menampung kos hidup yang semakin meningkat.

Pada hari yang penting ini, kita mengenang perjuangan pemimpin wanita kelas pekerja dan marhaen yang telah berkorban demi memperjuangkan nasib rakyat tertindas.

Maka, kami amat tidak berpuashati apabila bajet Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita Keluarga dan Masyarakat tahun 2017 dipotong dari RM1.87bn ke RM1.75bn. Adakah ini bermaksud bahawa potongan RM120 juta akan digunakan untuk perbelanjaan yang lebh penting daripada membantu wanita kelas pekerja, ibu tunggal, miskin kota, tanggungan mereka yang perlu ke sekolah dan penerima bantuan JKM?

Mengikut statistik kementerian, seramai 61,600 ibu tunggal telah menerima bantuan sebanyak RM151 juta pada tahun 2014. Tetapi dalam satu jawapan di Parlimen, kementerian melaporkan terdapat seramai 830,000 ibu tunggal yang didaftarkan di Malaysia. Maka jika dianggarkan bahawa 40 peratus daripada 830,000 ibu tunggal tersebut berpendapatan rendah, justeru itu bantuan kepada golongan ini haruslah kepada seramai 270,400 bukanya hanya 61,600!

Kerajaan harus menilai semula keutamaanya memperuntukkan bajet negara, dan KPWKM harus diperuntukan bajet yang lebih tinggi selaras dengan hasrat “negara berkebajikan dan mengutamakan rakyat”!

Kaum ibu tunggal yang berpendapatan rendah merupakan kumpulan yang paling menderita oleh kerana definasi paras garis kemiskinan, yang hanya akan menyediakan bantuan jika mereka berpendapatan RM1,000 dan kebawah.

Masih menetapkan kelayakan bantuan JKM pada RM1,000 adalah amat kejam dan tidak mengambarkan situasi ekonomi dan sosial masa kini. Ianya perlu dinaikkan ke RM1,500 dengan segera.

(Khazanah Nasional mengatakan pendapatan isi rumah median pada tahun 2014 ialah RM4,585. Kebanyakan negara membangun mengukur paras kemiskinan sebagai 60 peratus dari pendapatan isi rumah median, maksudnya RM2,751)
Maka masih berpegang kepada paras garis kemiskinan RM1,000 adalah amat tidak relevan!

Kami menuntut tindakan proaktif mengkaji semula klasifikasi “ibu tunggal” agar ianya diperluaskan kepada kaum ibu yang suaminya seorang banduan yang masih dalam tahanan penjara, lebih penting jika ibu tersebut mempunyai anak-anak dibawah umur 18 tahun. Apabila suami mereka yang telah merupakan sumber tunggal pendapatan isi rumah ditahan dan dipenjarakan, maka keseluruhan keluarga tersebut terpaksa menderita.

Sememangnya pihak kerajaan asyik cuba menonjolkan penampilan kejayaan wanita dibidang korporat dan pentadbiran kerajaan sebagai contoh kejayaan wanita kerana usaha-usaha kerajaan. Tetapi kesengsaraan hidup majoriti kaum wanita yang hidup sebagai pekerja biasa berpendapatan rendah, ibu tunggal dan miskin kota sering diabaikan dengan gambaran yang ditonjolkan kepada media bahawa wanita di Malaysia sudah mencapai kejayaan dan tidak menderita lagi.

Tahun 2017 ini merupakan ulangtahun ke-100 sambutan Hari Wanita Sedunia sejak 8 March 1917 dulu, tetapi malangnya kaum wanita Malaysia masih bergelut dengan masalah sistem patriaki, ketidaksaksamaan antara gender, diskirimimasi dan keganasan atas wanita.

Justeru itu, kami organisasi yang telah menurunkan tandatangan dibawah ini menyeru kepada kerajaan agar:

  • 1. tambahkan bajet yang diperuntukan kepada KPWKM, dua kali ganda oleh kerana KPWKM mempunyai tanggungjawab yang cukup luas untuk menjaga kebajikan wanita terutamanya wanita dari golongan berpendapatan rendah.
  • tingkatkan paras garis kemiskinan kepada RM1,,500 dan pastikan perubahan kos hidup dipantau serta penyelarasan dibuat dari masa ke semasa.
  • tubuhkan rumah asuhan kanak-kanak disemua kawasan perumahan kos rendah, demi memudahkan kaum ibu meninggalkan anak mereka untuk dijaga apabila mereka ke kerja.
  • olah skop makna ‘ibu tunggal’ untuk merangkumi para ibu yang mempunyai suami yang dalam tahanan dan menjalani hukuman penjara, agar ibu dan keluarga mereka yang mempunyai anak di bawah 18 tahun layak kepada bantuan kebajikan.
  • lancarkan suatu skim perumahan RKR dengan rebat khas kepada para ibu tunggal berpendapatan rendah yang dapat dibeli dengan bayaran sewa beli yang mudah.
  • permohonan bantuan oleh ibu tunggal yang ditolak harus diperiksa semula agar skim baru yang boleh membantu mereka diperkenalkan.
  • KPWKM merujuk semula ke memorandum yang telah dikemukakan oleh Jaringan Rakan Ibu Tunggal pada tahun 2015 dan pihak kementerian harus mengambil langkah untuk melaksanakan cadangan-cadangan tersebut. Cabaran terhadap wanita kelas pekerja amatlah banyak dan harus diberikan perhatian serius oleh KPWKM.

Kenyataan bersama ini ditandatangani oleh organisasi seperti berikut ;

1. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
2. Community Development Centre, Kajang (CDC)
3. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
4. Pascos Trust
5. Persatuan Wanita Selangor
6. Women’s Centre for Change (Penang)
7. Inter-Research And Studies (Iras)
8. Aliran
9. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
10. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
11. National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam)
12. Projek Dialog
13. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
14. Research for Social Advancement Relevant Facts, Sparkling Analysis (Refsa)
15. In Between Cultura
16. Pusat Komas
17. Diversity 異樣
18. Persatuan Kebajikan Arutperunjothi Margam
19. Hindraf
20. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
21. The North South Initiative
22. Kesatuan Pekerja-pekerja Swasta Perkhidmatan Sokongan di Hospital-hospital Kerajaan Semenanjung Malaysia
23. Sisters in Islam
24. Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM)
25. National Human Rights Society (Hakam)
26. All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
27. Seksualiti Merdeka
28. Justice for Sisters
29. The Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
30. TBH Trust for Democracy
31. Parti Rakyat Malaysia

English translation

Plight of working class women remain unresolved after 100 years

Every year, on this day, women are celebrated the world over for the unique role they play in society.

However, it is disappointing to reflect that the issues women struggled with, a hundred years ago in 1917, when working class women took to the streets demanding for “Bread & Peace” in feudal Russia, remain the same, even if their uprising had led to the downfall of the oppressive Tsar regime and initiated this global annual commemoration for women.

The struggle for “bread and butter” is still an issue because working class women and single mothers are unable to meet their family needs due to low wages and rising cost of living.

On this day, brave women in our community who have stepped-up to uphold the rights of women and the downtrodden are showcased as exemplary figures while we take stock of progress made in our struggle for equality in a burgeoning global community.

Thus, we are outraged that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development should take a RM120 million budget cut for 2017 in the midst of a bloated budget. The drop this year is indicative of the government’s view that the RM120 million can be put to better use than assisting urban poor, working class women, single mothers, their school going children and the vulnerable who require the protection of the Welfare Department.

According to statistics provided by the ministry, 61,600 single mothers were recipients of a total of RM 151 million in 2014. However, in response to a parliamentary question, the ministry reported that 830,000 single mothers were recorded in the country. Even if less than half of the latter figure (40%) should fall under the low-income bracket, it is indicative that the welfare department will have to turn away at least 270,400 applicants.

An urgent revision of its priorities is urged of the government and a boost in the allocation to this ministry that will truly reflect the role it should play toward the “wellbeing of the Rakyat” be implemented immediately.

Low income single mothers are hit the hardest especially because the Poverty Line Income Measurement which qualifies only those earning a monthly wage of RM1,000 and less, to financial aid needs to be reviewed.

This welfare benefit cap is cruel and provides no solution to helping low-income families out of poverty especially those led by single mothers. The “RM1,000” eligibility sealing should be increased to RM1,500 to facilitate the current expenditure trends for basic necessities.(Khazanah Nasional states that the median household income in the year 2014 was RM 4,585. Thus many developed countries work the poverty line income as 60% of the median household income. It works out to RM 2,751 based on those standards). The current poverty line income thus needs to be urgently reviewed.

We also call for a proactive revision on the classification of the term “single mothers” eligible for welfare aid, to include women with children below the age of 18 years whose husbands are inmates in prisons. Having lost their entire household income through no fault of theirs, many women and children are displaced with potential risk to their health, education and well-being.

We can foresee that the government will no doubt acknowledge International Women’s Day with activities and actions that will highlight achievements of prominent women in business and social leaders, in an attempt to prove its role in implementing initiatives that have successfully upgraded women.

These “showcasing” are grand farcical attempts at masking the real sufferings of working class women whose lives will further deteriorate following the budget cut.

2017 marks a century since March 8 was adopted as the International Women’s Day, yet Malaysia has made little progress in moving away from a patriarchal system that does little to reduce gender disparities, defend the rights of or alleviate women from discrimination and violence.

We the undersigned call upon the Malaysian government to :

1. Inflate the budget allocated to the Women, Welfare and Community Development Ministry, by doubling the 2016 allocation as this ministry is responsible for the improvement of the lives of people who are the foundation of the nation – the working class.

2. Raise the Poverty Line Income Measurement to RM1,500 and set up a system that monitors their progress in livelihood.

3. Set up government funded crèches at all low cost residential areas, in stages, to provide a safe and secure environment for children of the working class.

4. Revise the classification of the term “single mothers” eligible for welfare aid, to include women with children below the age of 18 years whose husbands are inmates in prisons.

5. Introduce a new-low-rate for low cost homes especially for low income single mothers with an easy payment hire-purchase scheme.

6. Revisit single-mother-applications that were rejected by the Welfare Department and introduce a new scheme that will allow for the department to analyse problems and issues faced by single mothers, and is able to implement new schemes to elevate their standard of living.

7) Give due consideration to the Jaringan Rakan Ibu Tunggal Memorandum (2015) handed to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and take positive steps to implement all the recommendations stated in the said Memorandum. We reiterate the seriousness of challenges and needs of single mothers, the most vulnerable of working class women.

7) Give due consideration to the Jaringan Rakan Ibu Tunggal Memorandum (2015) handed to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and take positive steps to implement all the recommendations stated in the said Memorandum. We reiterate the seriousness of challenges and needs of single mothers, the most vulnerable of working class women.

1. Parti Sosialis Malaysia

2. Community Development Centre, Kajang (CDC)

3. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)

4. PACOS trust

5. Persataun Wanita Selangor

6. Women’s Centre for Change (Penang)

7. Inter-Research And Studies (IRAS)

8. Aliran

9. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)

10. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

11. National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam)

12. Projek Dialog

13. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

14. Research for Social Advancement Relevant Facts, Sparkling Analysis (REFSA)

15. In Between Cultura

16. Pusat KOMAS

17. Diversity 異樣

18. Persatuan Kebajikan Arutperunjothi Margam

19. HINDRAF

20. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

21. The North South Initiative

22. Kesatuan Pekerja-pekerja Swasta Perkhidmatan Sokongan di Hospital-hospital Kerajaan Semenanjung Malaysia

23. Sisters in Islam

24. Women’s Sport & Fitness Foundation Malaysia (WSFFM)

25. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)

26. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)

27. Seksualiti Merdeka

28. Justice for Sisters

29. The Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

30. TBH Trust for Democracy

31.Parti Rakyat Malaysia

Additions to joint statement : Plight of working class women remain unresolved after 100 years.

From – Justice For Sisters

The struggle for “bread and butter” is still an issue because diverse groups of women, including working class women, single mothers, young women, trans and gender diverse women are unable to meet their personal and family needs due to discriminatory hiring policies, discrimination at the workplace, low wages, and rising cost of living.

n 1975, March 8 was adopted as the International Women’s Day, yet Malaysia has made little progress in moving away from a patriarchal system that does little to reduce gender disparities, dismantle the gender binary system that marginalizes diverse gender identities and expressions, deconstruct gender roles and stereotypes, defend the rights of or alleviate all women from discrimination and violence regardless of class, ethnicity, religious background, disabilities, age, citizenship status, gender identity and expression, sexuality, and other statuses.