INVISIBLE WOMEN (AND THE GENDER EQUALITY ACT): A CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN IN MALAYSIA
I have at least 2 friends who had miscarriages because of their bosses.
During one of my internships, I was harassed by a group of men in a store room. They put me on a chair, I sat in the middle while they all surrounded me, intimidating me with questions after questions. I was a student.
Many years later, during one of my jobs, I applied for a month of unpaid leave to breastfeed, care for, and bond with my newborn baby. An officer said, "This kind of leave is only applicable to biological moms. Did you give birth to him?" I answered, "No, but legally I am his mother." The officer replied, "You didn't give birth to him; you're not his mother."
(I was born with MRKH Syndrome; I have no uterus. Imagine how I feel.)
My application led me into a meeting with my bosses. While the majority of my bosses were kind, one was extremely insensitive: "So you need the leave to breastfeed eh? And we're having a meeting about it? Whoa, why not we make it a Broadway altogether! Breastfeed the Musical!" And he laughed.
These are just some of my personal experiences. And this is the first time ever I've opened up.
40% of women surveyed by WAO in 2016 had been asked in job interviews if they were pregnant or had plans to be in the near future. 20% of women in the same survey had their job applications rejected or job offers revoked after disclosing pregnancies. And yet, only 1 in 8 women surveyed who had lost their jobs or promotions actually lodged formal complaints.
At the moment, there are no laws regulating private sector employers who discriminate against pregnant women, or new mothers. Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) is working to change that. Because when it comes to work, no woman should ever feel invisible.
Please share and spread this campaign. Or better -- go to http://invisiblewomen.com.my and share your story. You're not alone.