SINGAPORE - Women can be a source of economic growth and innovative products and services, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on Saturday (July 15).
However, research shows that start-ups by women attract less interest from capital investors, and women also tend to have fewer networking opportunities. Women also continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions and on company boards, she said.
In the push to overcome these barriers, women activists should continue to advocate for fellow Singapore women, changing mindsets about greater equality in gender roles, said Ms Fu, speaking at the annual conference for the People's Action Party Women's Wing, which she chairs.
"We should continue to be the ears and eyes on the ground, to understand the needs and find out where gaps exist... We should continue to reach out, engage and build networks with women from all segments, not leaving anyone behind," she said.
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"Besides making our voices heard, we also need to work hard to transform these calls into tangible action. We can do so by developing sound policy recommendations, and working with the government agencies to co-create new policies and initiatives," said Ms Fu, addressing some 300 party activists at Hotel Fort Canning.
For example, ways to encourage women entrepreneurship, such as having start-up spaces closer to home and shared service centres to provide more caregiving options, were suggested in a position paper published by a group of women MPs last year.
Women at the conference also heard from three entrepreneurs in a panel discussion - food e-commerce business Li Da Foods co-founder Rita Zahara, flexi-work platform Mums@Work founder Sher-Li Torrey, and Ms Rachel Ong, chief executive of consultancy Rohei.
As an entrepreneur, the key is to start something that is relevant today and in the future as well by continually reinventing oneself, said Ms Rita. Her meal delivery brand AMGD, for example, uses digital marketing, data to curate recipes, and is trying to automate production.
Ms Ong advised them to treat others with dignity, as "a good name is better than great riches". She also said finding a niche that one is passionate about will help people to work complementarily with others and with technology in the future economy.
Mrs Torrey added that a niche does not have to be a big role - people can contribute in a job or as a mother no matter what they are doing.