Clear need to address gender gap at work and in politics

Singapore's performance in closing its gender gap worsened this year, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report.

Ranked 65th out of 144 countries, Singapore slipped 10 positions from last year.

The gender parity score is based on performance in closing the gender gap in four areas - economic participation and opportunity; political empowerment; educational attainment; and health and survival. Singapore's gaps are most prominent in the former two areas.

In economic participation, there was a distinct widening of the gap between women's and men's estimated earned income.

At the same time, there was no change in Singapore's gender gaps in labour force participation and wage equality for similar work, as well as the number of professional and technical workers.

Taken together, these numbers may imply that women as a whole earn less than men because they are increasingly in lower-paying positions.

For example, the average monthly income of cleaners, labourers and related workers is $1,417 - the lowest compared with other occupations - and women make up 59 per cent of such workers.[1]

To manage caregiving responsibilities, which remain unequally shared, women also tend to work part-time, earning less as a result.

Further, the findings suggest that barriers remain to women's career advancement and their opportunities for higher pay.

The gender gap in the number of legislators, senior officials and managers is wide. These positions are higher-paying, but women make up only 37 per cent of them.[2]

On average, many countries did badly in terms of women's political empowerment. Singapore ranked 101st in this area - consistently one of its weakest.

Chong Ning Qian (Ms)

Research Executive

Association of Women for Action and Research[1][2]