It’s time to act on solutions for women’s development: President Halimah
SINGAPORE – With the Covid-19 pandemic having exposed the weaknesses of the current societal system, it is time for leaders to act and cooperate on innovative and inclusive solutions, President Halimah Yacob said on Friday (November 19).
“Let us use our voices to represent the unrepresented, and for people to hear what is not heard and see the invisible,” she urged an international forum for women’s development. “Let’s turn this crisis into an opportunity to build together a more equitable and inclusive world. “
Ms. Halimah was speaking virtually at the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society, an international platform for amplifying women’s concerns and proposing political solutions to common challenges.
Issues such as climate change, women’s health and business featured prominently in this year’s edition.
Post-pandemic recovery was also a hot topic, with participants sharing ideas on how leadership can become more inclusive and barriers to entrepreneurship removed.
President Halimah noted that Covid-19 threatens to reverse positive trends in women’s development, with numerous studies showing women around the world have been made more vulnerable in the past 20 months.
This includes having to deal with increased gender-based violence, with girls having limited access to education. Many have also had to shoulder an even greater share of the already unequal burden of care and household chores, affecting their work opportunities.
“Whether it’s the economic fallout or the mental toll, Covid-19 has disproportionately affected women around the world,” Ms. Halimah noted.
She also shared the Singapore experience working to understand the needs and aspirations of local women.
For example, the country held 160 national conversations on women’s development last year, involving nearly 6,000 people of both sexes. Five themes emerged from the conversations: having equal opportunities in the workplace, better support for caregivers, stronger protection for women, greater support for vulnerable women and the need for a broad effort to overcome stereotypes about gender roles.
Those comments will be consolidated into a white paper to be tabled in parliament early next year, Halimah said.
Such work will ensure that laws and policies evolve with the changing times, she said, adding that 2021 has been designated the Year of Celebration of SG Women.
Singapore has also assembled an Alliance for Action on Work-Life Harmony to develop initiatives and resources to help all workers better manage their family responsibilities while advancing in their careers.
The President added: “As we discuss specific policies and programs that will improve the lives of women, we must also consider how we can strengthen the ethics of equity and justice in our society, where men and women women associate on an equal footing, progress together and pursue their aspirations freely, and where we care for the most vulnerable among us. “