THE need for skills in information technology (IT) and childcare are among the barriers preventing single mothers in Sarawak from returning to work.
Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus said this was the observation made by a study entitled ‘An Investigation into Barrier for Single Mothers with Tertiary Educations’ Re-entry into Workforce in Urban Sarawak’ which was funded by the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology and Sarawak Single Mothers’ Association (Pitsa).
Following this, she pointed out that the Sarawak Women and Family Department (JWKS) collaborated with the university to organise a ‘Single Mothers Dialogue Session: Sarawak Single Mothers Empowerment Programme (PIT) at four locations; namely Kuching, Samarahan, Miri and Bintulu which was participated by 533 single mothers last year.
“This programme aims to build the confidence, willingness and interest of single mothers as well as to foster a more open and active attitude of single mothers in the society,” she said in her reply to a question by Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew (SUPP-Piasau) at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.
Rosey also said JWKS had conducted an ICT Basic Foundation Skills Course for Single Mothers (ICT4IT) which was also one of the follow-up results of the study involving the department with non-governmental organisations including Pitsa.
“It is to help single mothers to add and hone IT skills while encouraging them to venture into online entrepreneurship (eUsahawan),” she explained.
In line with the state government’s aspiration to develop digital economy, she said the ministry through JWKS has also introduced a ‘Women in Digital Entrepreneurship (WIDE)’ programme for trained women entrepreneurs from Wisma Wanita Training Centre (PLWW) who have just started their business.
“Last year, 33 participants joined the WIDE programme and it has proved to be beneficial in shaping women into digital entrepreneurs, thus giving them a steady income.”
She added that JWKS through PLWW has also opened opportunities for women to improve their socioeconomic status by organising skills courses such as creative stitching course, beauty course, cooking course as well as spa and massage course.
At the same time, Rosey said the State Social Welfare Department (JKMS) also assisted single mothers to participate in the Micro Entrepreneurs Welfare Programme which saw the participation of 771 participants from 2014 up till May this year.
“They will be considered for a launching grant of a maximum RM5,000 per person to run their business and will also be guided for a two-year period.
“In April, JKMS has stepped up to move them forward through the recently approved Koperasi Usahawan Mikro Kebajikan Bhd.”