Among Malaysian states, the top three states with high levels of gender equality in 2020 were: Kuala Lumpur (85.3%), Putrajaya (79.3%), and Perlis (78.2%).
The overall level of gender equality in Malaysia has improved, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia's (DOSM) latest report, Statistics on Women Empowerment in Selected Domains, Malaysia, 2021.
Using the Malaysia Gender Gap Index (MGGI) score—which identifies the gap between women and men across four sub-indices: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment—the overall gender equality improved to 0.714 (71.4%) in 2020. The equality of women and men is achieved when the score hits a value of 1.0 (100%).
Dr. Mohd Uzir Mahidin, Chief Statistician Malaysia, shared: "Based on the MGGI 2020 score, we were ranked 74th from 156 countries in the world. Simultaneously, within East Asia and the Pacific, Malaysia remained at the eighth position as in 2020 where we were ahead of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, and Brunei Darussalam.
"However, we were still behind New Zealand, Philippines, Australia, and Singapore."
Across the four aforementioned sub-indices, the index with the highest level of gender equality is education attainment (education sector) at 1.059. This is followed by health and survival (healthcare sector) at 0.956, and economic participation and opportunity (economic sectors) at 0.738.
The lowest index is political empowerment (political sector) at 0.100—which translates to 10%.
Dr Mahidin added: "[The] labour force participation rate (LFPR) for women was still low at 55.3% in 2020 as compared to other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore (69.7%) and Thailand (66.8%). Generally, women’s LFPR for developed nation exceed 60%. Political empowerment recorded the lowest at 10% (score 0.100) that shows women were still lagging behind men in the Ministerial position and Parliament."
How individual Malaysian states faired in gender equality in 2020
Among the individual states, all but Melaka, Perak, Penang, and Terengganu have attained an MGGI score of more than 0.7 (70%). DOSM noted. The state with the highest score is Kuala Lumpur at 0.853 (85.3%), followed by Putrajaya (79.3%) and Perlis (78.2%).
Diving into specific indices, all states have attained an MGGI score of more than 0.9 across education as well as the healthcare sector. In the political sector, however, most states have reached a score of 0.1, with the better-performing ones being Kuala Lumpur (0.671), Perlis (0.336), and Selangor (0.333).
Image / the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM)