The proposal made by Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Dr. Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj to re-instituting direct income transfers for the 2.5 million B40 families in Malaysia should be supported.
Introducing EPF for housewives demonstrates Pakatan Harapan’s commitment in helping them to better secure their future, is an overdue recognition of the long-term financial struggles faced by non-working women, acknowledges that household work goes largely unpaid and provides them a safety net.
However, Dr. Jeyakumar rightly pointed out that this does not provide extra income to a housewife at present, especially amongst those who require financial assistance immediately.
The situation for B40 households in Malaysia remains dire. Approximately 2.5 million B40 families are living pay check by pay check, month by month amidst rising costs of living and healthcare, in addition to earning low wages. Women from these families cannot afford to wait decades or until they hit 50 to access this financial assistance.
Unfortunately, the benefits in providing KWSP contributions to housewives while well-intended, are limited.
Dr. Jeyakumar’s suggestion in crediting RM100 monthly to bank accounts of women from B40 households is a good one and should be seriously considered. Monthly payments ensures consistent income for a household, and could act as a security net to offset living costs.
More importantly, a regular income to women from B40 households empowers and protects. Perpetrators of domestic violence often engage in financial abuse, where a perpetrator takes control of the victim’s financial autonomy. Housewives, with no income of their own, are particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse. Crediting RM100 into a woman’s bank account directly each month is an act of encouraging autonomy and empowerment amongst B40 women.
The government should seriously consider the multiple proposals made by Dr. Jeyakumar. KWSP contributions, though a good first step in the right direction, will not be sufficient to support the most vulnerable women of our society.
As published by Malay Mail.