Focus areas

Gender Equality

Gender Equality

Mainstreaming gender across all areas.

Gender equality has been and continues to be central to the mandate of UNDP, given its approach to inclusive and sustainable human development. It is an essential development goal in itself, as well as intrinsic to the achievement of the overall development agenda. The 2030 Agenda envisions a world in which “every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed.” Gender equality is thus essential to achieve the guiding principle of the agenda of “leaving no one behind.” 

Under the Global Gender Gap Index 2022, Malaysia ranks 103 out of 146 countries, with a score of 0.681. While women’s achievement in the Educational Attainment sub-index is commendable, being nearly on-par with men (with a score of 0.995), political empowerment recorded the lowest score with 0.102, showing women were still lagging behind men in the political arena.

In Malaysia, the UNDP Country Office has placed gender equality at the centre of its development mandate through its Gender Equality Strategy (GES) 2022-2025. The GES outlines the commitment of UNDP to consider the key barriers to gender equality in Malaysia and find ways to integrate these concerns and find solutions to them through its programming. Through this strategy, UNDP will have three main roles in the area of promoting gender equality:

  1. Influencer | UNDP CO will leverage its new communications strategy and policy unit to influence policies to be gender-responsive, and influence the public through larger campaigns and social media outreach.
  2. Advocate | UNDP will develop key messaging for each of its programming areas, and work with civil society organizations and other partners to amplify the advocacy for gender equality in Malaysia- both with the government and the public.
  3. Convenor | UNDP will leverage its role as the integrator of the SDGs to convene multiple stakeholders, across sectors to foster new partnerships for gender equality

The GES is an important guide for the Country Office to improve its overall gender mainstreaming processes, policies, capacities and to accelerate progress in the Gender Equality Seal certification. UNDP Malaysia received a Silver Gender Equality Seal in 2016, and is preparing for re-application aiming to maintain the Silver Gender Seal in 2023.  

Pictured here is MokSu, a successful business operated by a woman and her daughter for over a decade, with the support of the local government and Setiu Wetland, under the 'Sustainable Tourism Recovery Project'. The project aims to take into account and integrate relevant gender considerations, and is part of efforts to mainstream gender across all sectors.

Advancing gender, advancing development.

Malaysia has made several commitments to gender equality at the international level. It ratified the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1995, albeit it has not ratified the optional protocol to CEDAW, which allows for a communications (complaints) procedure as well as an inquiry procedure related to violations of rights protected under CEDAW.

Malaysia has also endorsed the Beijing Declaration, but progress has often been slow and incomplete. In September 2015, UN Women launched a new initiative “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” in which Malaysia made commitments to work on improving female labour force participation and increase support for single mothers. Malaysia also participated in the ASEAN Regional Action Plan for Elimination of Violence against Women, 2016-2025 (in alignment with the ASEAN Community Blueprint). 

At the national level, the Shared Prosperity 2030 document through the principle of inclusivity captures the importance of ensuring that women and girls are part of informing decisions about the development of the country, and involving women as a target group to manage polarities. The empowerment of women is outlined as one of the strategies in the 12th Malaysia Plan, including to increase economic participation and enhance the role of women in decision-making; review laws to identify gender gaps and address them for better protection of women; introduce a gender mainstreaming framework  and gender analysis for a gender perspective in formulating policies; and to enhance legal mechanisms for women’s safety and security. 

Through its new Country Programme Document, UNDP Malaysia will bolster its efforts in gender programming and mainstreaming across its programmes and projects.

Certified Bronze Gender Seal

In 2023, UNDP certified 66 UNDP country offices across the globe with the Gender Equality Seal: these offices were awarded at the Bronze, Silver or Gold level after meeting gender equality standards. Since 2014, 120 UNDP countries have voluntarily taken part in the programme, showcasing UNDP’s global commitment to advancing gender equality.

The Gender Seal recognizes country offices' achievements in transforming gender inequalities, addressing harmful social norms, power structures, and root causes of inequalities. From reforming discriminatory laws to creating opportunities for women to take on non-traditional roles, UNDP Gender Seal offices are building more equal societies that benefit all.UNDP Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam is pleased to share that we are a certified Bronze Gender Seal holder. 

The UNDP Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam Gender Team who drove the successful submission for the latest Gender Equality Seal programme award.