Progress has been made in the development of women, but more can be done to close gender gaps: Lawrence Wong
Wong also spoke of the risk that the internet and social media could reinforce gender stereotypes.
For example, young girls are now at risk of being pressured to look a certain way in order to get more likes on social media. Meanwhile, sexualized images of women online can easily influence the attitudes and mindsets of young boys.
“Social media amplifies these stereotypes and we know that these stereotypes are often the precursor to more extreme sexist attitudes, even hate speech or worse – bullying, harassment and even sexual abuse and violence,” said he declared.
This is why Singapore must continue to step up its efforts in this area, whether it is education in school against stereotypes, protections for women against violence, harm online and discrimination on the workplace, or improving the broader infrastructure and ecosystem for childcare and elder care.
Employers must also do their part to provide more flexible working arrangements, the minister said.
“Ultimately, we must try to shape more progressive family norms to encourage more shared parenting and a more balanced sharing of family caregiving responsibilities.
“And if we can do all of that, then I’m sure we can see more women thrive, excel and progress in leadership roles, both in the public and private sectors, and they will do it on their own. merit, not by special diet or treatment because you don’t need it.
All of this means that Singapore’s work to advance women’s development is “never done”.
“We have to keep going and we have to keep pushing the agenda forward,” Wong said. “Because the bottom line is that women in Singapore are as capable as men and we will give you the same chance to prove yourself and reach your full potential.”
Mr Wong pointed to the Forward Singapore initiative – launched in June by the ruling party’s Fourth Generation or 4G leadership team – as one way to achieve this.
“Through this exercise, we hope we can come together to imagine the kind of society we want for our children and grandchildren. A society where men and women can be equal, where we recognize the intrinsic value of women in Singapore, and where every citizen is empowered to achieve their aspirations and dreams.
After his speech, Wong joined Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo and MP Carrie Tan (PAP-Nee Soon) in a dialogue session, where they discussed issues including paternity leave and women in leadership positions.