MPs unanimously approve Singapore Women’s Development White Paper

Speaking on the progress of women in Singapore, Ms Teo said women’s development has reached a “very high base”, but there is “a duty” to find new ways to uplift women to each generation.

While the white paper contains provisions for fair work legislation and better support for carers, Ms Teo stressed that everyone must “take action” in their homes, workplaces, communities and relationships for a fairer and more inclusive society.

“This will only happen when men and women come together as equals in all areas. It depends on how we as family members share care and act as role models for our children,” said Ms Teo, chairperson of the Women’s Wing of the People’s Action Party.

“It depends on how we as a community signal our protection and respect for our women. It depends on how we as employers empower our female colleagues to dream bigger and fly higher.

WOMEN AT HOME

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung spoke of deep-rooted biases in social practices and constructs that go “beyond government policies and legislation”.

Sharing stories about his daughters, he said he better understood the lived experience of social expectations and prejudice towards women through their eyes.

“But no matter how entrenched that past is, that past is challenged by the present,” he said. Education and technology have combined to force people to “rethink the status quo”.

“Neither men nor women are better at numerical calculation, more empathetic or more meticulous. They are individuals with varying strengths and weaknesses.

A change in mindset is a third driver of change, he said. “The patriarchal structure will evolve faster if people now conclude that as a society, if we treat men and women more equally, it is better for the well-being of our families and loved ones.”

On equal partnership at home, Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli said men and women should work together for a “whole of society” approach.

Highlighting a child’s ability to learn by watching their parents, Mr Masagos said it is a father’s responsibility ‘to teach our sons what it means to respect women, from an early age’ and inculcate the right values ​​in them.

“Our children are social learners of the world, observing our every attitude, word and action. They model after us, assimilate perceived pro-social roles,” he said.

The minister also called on men to be more involved in home care.

WOMEN AT WORK

A number of MPs spoke of the challenges faced by female workers and the need to break down the boundaries between jobs traditionally dominated by men or women.

MPs Jessica Tan (PAP-East Coast) and Melvin Yong (PAP-Radin Mas) have called for the tripartite guidelines on flexible working arrangements, due to be introduced by 2024, to be accelerated.

“We should strike when the iron is hot…and roll out the guidelines while many employers are still fresh after putting the majority of their workforce to work,” Yong said.

To this, Minister of State for Manpower, Gan Siow Huang, said it was important to adopt a “calibrated and enabling approach” to improve access to flexible working arrangements.

“We need to equip employers with the capabilities to run a more flexible workplace, not just remote work,” she said, pointing out that more than 10,000 companies have already adopted the tripartite standard on working arrangements. flexible working, covering more than one in four employees here. .

Mara R. Wilmoth