Percentage of women in Parliament better than a decade ago: Low Yen Ling

The percentage of women in Singapore's Parliament is better compared to a decade ago and it is more important to anchor political representation on meritocracy rather than impose gender quotas, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Social and Famil
The percentage of women in Singapore's Parliament is better compared to a decade ago and it is more important to anchor political representation on meritocracy rather than impose gender quotas, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling said on Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

The percentage of women in Singapore's Parliament is better compared to a decade ago and it is more important to anchor political representation on meritocracy rather than impose gender quotas, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling said on Tuesday.

Out of 99 seats in the House, 25 are currently occupied by women.

"So in terms of percentage, we are doing better compared to a decade ago. Percentage wise, 25.4, and this compares very favourably to the inter-parliamentary union of 21.4 per cent," Ms Low told Parliament.

She was responding to Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, who had pointed to a recent World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report that said Singapore ranked low in terms of political empowerment.

"While we scored fairly well, 47 out of 136 for MPs, in terms of Cabinet, we are really far down," Ms Lim said.

"It's 125 out of 136 countries. And I would like to know whether we will improve in this.

"Instead of having just one lady minister out of 18 currently in the last few decades, do we expect any improvement in this area?"

Ms Low, in her response, stressed that that it was "more important" that the system is based on meritocracy, rather than on policies such as quota limits.

Ms Lim, who is also Workers' Party chairman, had tabled a question asking if the Government was satisfied with Singapore's scores in the report.