Selangor Journal
State executive councillor for women empowerment and welfare Anfaal Saari visiting the Media Selangor Sdn Bhd (MSSB) office, Shah Alam on February 6, 2024. — Picture by REMY ARIFIN/SELANGORKINI

Selangor’s care economy agenda takes concrete shape 

By Amar Shah Mohsen

SHAH ALAM, Feb 8 — For a first term assemblyman and state executive councillor to be entrusted with overseeing the implementation of Selangor’s care economy agenda is no easy feat, but Anfaal Saari has gone above and beyond to ensure its delivery. 

Since taking on the chairmanship of the state’s Women Empowerment and Welfare Committee, she has made it her personal mission for the sector to be given due attention by the Selangor government. 

And just over five months after being sworn into office, the care economy agenda is now starting to assume tangible shape. 

In an interview with Selangor Journal, Anfaal said the state is on schedule to roll out the Selangor Care Economy Action Framework 2024-2028 in April and the Selangor Care Economy Action Council in June, as initially planned. 

“I have apportioned the first quarter of this year to be primarily focused on the formulation of the care economy policy. We have been and will be involved in engagement sessions and focused group discussions specifically on this matter,” she said during her recent visit to Media Selangor’s office, here. 

“My team has also drafted a working paper, which will be tabled in the State Executive Council latest by next week. 

“Once we get approval, this paper will authorise power for the use of government funds for the implementation of the care agenda,” she said, adding that her committee has received RM1 million this year for the advocacy and promotion of the care economy.  

Previously in November, Anfaal had said that when launched, the Selangor Care Economy Action Framework, the first of its kind in the country, will serve as a reference document for all stakeholders in the state pertaining to the care economy. 

The action council, meanwhile, will be responsible for planning, monitoring and providing the necessary input in relation to the care agenda, and will be chaired by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari. 

According to Anfaal, the state has also struck a cooperation with international non-profit development organisation The Asia Foundation in its bid to enhance the care economy agenda. 

“Through this strategic collaboration, The Asia Foundation will explore and conduct research on the care, blue and green economies, providing us with essential inputs,” she said. 

The organisation, which is headquartered in the United States with representatives in 20 countries including Malaysia, is committed to improving lives, expanding opportunities, and helping societies flourish across a dynamic and developing Asia. 

Its Malaysian chapter, which is based in Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur, receives its grant from the Australian government

State executive councillor for women empowerment and welfare Anfaal Saari speaking to the media in conjunction with a visit to the Media Selangor Sdn Bhd (MSSB) office, Shah Alam on February 6, 2024. — Picture by REMY ARIFIN/SELANGORKINI

Improvements of existing programmes

Separately, Anfaal said her committee is working hard to enhance existing state initiatives, including the MamaKerja incentive that provides RM1,000 in financial aid to 5,000 working mothers to subsidise the cost of childcare. 

The programme is aimed at increasing the participation of women in the workforce and in recognition of their role in the state’s economic development 

Anfaal said following tremendous feedback — about one million devices were recorded to have attempted to register for the programme on the first day of registration on November 1 — the state will look to improve and draw up a more effective policy. 

“Our data found that the policy should not just be about monetary aid. We also have to look comprehensively at policies that will help working mothers, including potential subsidies for childcare centres operating at work places. 

“This is because our study indicates that among the factors (for the application of the MamaKerja incentive) is the distance between the childcare centres and their offices.” 

Anfaal added that to date, the state has already distributed the RM1,000 aid to 3,835 recipients, while the rest have been told to update their documents before payments can be made. 

Meanwhile, Anfaal said the majority of the RM700,000 allocated for the Selangor Legal Aid Fund annually have not been utilised due to the public’s lack of knowledge of the initiative, with the main factor being attributed to the lack of promotional campaigns. 

To address this, the state executive councillor said the state will enhance cooperation with the respective community service centres and shelter homes, including those under the purview of the Women’s Aid Organisation, to provide financial assistance for those who cannot afford. 

She added that the state government is also in the process of signing a memorandum of agreement with the Selangor Bar Council to expand the fund’s use beyond just civil cases, but to also include Shariah-related matters. 

Anfaal said last year, the state only received 38 applications under the initiative, although some of the cases either did not meet the requirements or were later withdrawn. 

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