GEORGETOWN, PENANG, 27 July 2016 – The Centre for Research on Women and Gender (KANITA) Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) hopes to advance the issues surrounding maternity protection, female workforce and work-life balance with a 5-day workshop entitled “Advancing Maternity Protection in Malaysia: Meeting Social Welfare and Business Needs and Contributing to Economic Development”, held in collaboration with Middlesex University (MDX) London at Holiday Inn Resort, Batu Feringghi here.
The Director of KANITA, Associate Professor Dr. Noraida Endut welcomed the 32 participants of the workshop, comprising of local and foreign researchers, both new and experienced in the fields related to the studied areas.
“We are delighted to have with us 16 local and 16 foreign researchers of various backgrounds representing their institutions in areas relating to maternity protection and gender issues.
“Middlesex University London was selected in this collaboration as it has done prior research into the issues to be discussed,” Noraida said.
According to Noraida, the workshop is held with the aim to establish a research group or cluster in the future, which in turn would allow the acquiring of more grants for further research on gender issues.
“Another reason for having the workshop would be to share the data obtained from the various research done and translate them into publications for future references,” she added.
Throughout the five days, there will be keynote talks, presentations, group activities and group presentations and also a talk on funding opportunities from British Council.
Among the senior researchers from MDX Business School was Professor Suzan Lewis. In her keynote presentation, she touched on the need for further studies on the issue of maternity protection within the contextual and cultural aspects.
Dr. Bianca Stumbitz, a research associate who has worked on an International Labour Organisation (ILO) project, aims to look at cultural nuances found locally in comparison to other places, with Ghana being one that she had recently been to.
Dr. Lilian Miles, another researcher from the Business School with a background in Law, highlighted the situation relating to the local female workforce.
“Malaysia has one of the lowest female labour participation in the region,” she said. This is due to factors such as the role of women at home, in society, at work and also in politics.
Also present at the workshop were Professor Dato’ Dr. Rashidah Shuib and researchers from KANITA USM, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Monash University Malaysia; as well as those from Middlesex University, Cranfield University, University of Surrey, University of Leicester, University of Northampton, University of Bedfordshire, University of Herefordshire, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Abertay University (Dundee Business School) and Edinburgh Napier University.
The workshop is jointly organised by KANITA USM, Middlesex University and supported by the British Council.
Text: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin / Photos: Zamani Abdul Rahim