Nearly three in 10 Malaysians feel that they do not have enough money to buy food, said the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor — Making Ends Meet report released on Monday (Dec 9).
Citing the Gallup World Poll, it said the number of Malaysians who felt this way last year doubled from 2012.
“This is more prominent among those living in urban areas, where the poll results more than tripled from 8.6 per cent to 28.7 per cent. In rural areas, those who feel that they do not have enough money for food rose from 18.6 per cent to 30 per cent.”
Despite subdued inflation, low-income households have been feeling the pinch when it comes to buying food.
World Bank Group senior economist (poverty and equity) Kenneth Simler said poor households are experiencing “higher than average” inflation because food prices have increased faster than other items and these families spend a high proportion of their household budget on food.
According to the report, which saw researchers conducting almost 60 focus-group meetings nationwide, 23 per cent of respondents said they lack money for shelter.
The number of urban residents who don’t have enough funds for housing increased more than threefold from 7.4 per cent in 2012 to 24.8 per cent last year.
“Although high housing costs are typically seen as an urban issue, it is noteworthy that 17 per cent to 18 per cent of rural folk reported not having enough money for shelter in 2012 and last year,” said the report.
Housing has gotten increasingly unaffordable over the years, with units now “severely unaffordable” in some states.
This is especially worrying for households earning less than RM5,000 (S$1,600) a month, as the number of families in this income group far exceeds the available supply of affordable homes.
A total of 55 per cent of respondents in Kuala Lumpur and 63 per cent in the Petaling district said they lack access to cheap housing.
“Households in the RM6,000-to-RM10,000 income bracket can typically afford to buy a house in the RM230,000-to-RM500,000 price range, but the availability of such units is uneven,” said the report.
“The market for affordable homes is much tighter in Petaling than Kuala Lumpur, given the former’s growing undersupply (of units) and increase in prices.”
Mr Simler said in 2016, only 18 per cent of newly launched units were priced below RM200,000.
Source : Today Online
Too poor to buy sanitary pads, period poverty remains problem in Malaysia
Coconut husks, newspaper sheets, and banana leaves. These are some of the items underprivileged women and girls in Malaysia have used in place of proper sanitary products during their period.
While no statistics exist for period poverty in Malaysia, Dr Hamizah Mohd Hassan, who is the head of reproductive health at the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN), said that women from the bottom 40 per cent of households — also known as the B40 group in Malaysia — definitely struggle with this issue.
Period poverty is defined as the inability of a menstruating person to access sanitary products and safe, hygienic places in which to use them.
This often results in girls skipping school every month during their period, causing them to miss out on their education which will eventually lower their chances of securing a stable job in the future.
Going hand-in-hand with period poverty is the Pink Tax, which refers to the extra amount women have to pay for feminine hygiene products.
Last year, Malaysia removed the Pink Tax on products like pantyliners and pads.
While the removal of the Pink Tax does make menstrual products slightly more affordable, Ms Maria said more can be done by corporate companies to reduce the overall price of pads.
“Corporate companies need to be responsible and figure out ways to lower their production costs and prices for sanitary products and give some leeway to support B40 communities.
“It’s a responsibility that has to be shared with the government,” she said.
Ms Maria said the Bunga Pads initiative — which provides free sanitary napkins to underprivileged female students in and outside Malaysia — is supported by Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Ministry and will see eco-friendly reusable pads being distributed to underprivileged women and girls in East Malaysia.
The panel also discussed the social stigma surrounding periods which forces some girls to miss school every month when they menstruate due to feelings of shame.
Source : Today Online