Housewives - this is how Govt, society can help

Housewives are the backbone of a family-orientated society and an integral part of our economy.
Housewives are the backbone of a family-orientated society and an integral part of our economy.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Cheng Choon Fei (Pay housewives a salary, March 15) and Mr Julian Chris Lopez (Recognition of housewives' work starts at home, March 19) both paid well-deserved tribute to the hard work put in by housewives.

I believe most women make the sacrifice to stay home out of love to tend to the people of highest priority to them, and would continue to do so even if no salary is made available.

However, beyond salary and recognition, both Government and society can unquestionably do more to aid these unsung heroes.

Women very frequently are the ones to give up their careers to stay home and care for the children, the sick or the elderly.

In the tragic occurrence of a divorce, housewives often find themselves without the financial support necessary to sustain their living standard and that of their loved ones, as they find themselves tackling exorbitant legal fees, household and grocery expenses, school fees, medical bills and transportation expenditures single-handedly.

Those who have gone through the trenches of divorce know its lengthy course and inordinate outlays, and how stretched the process can be just for these women to obtain any form of maintenance.

This is where the Family Justice Courts can step in to expedite the procedure of putting interim maintenance measures in place early on in the divorce process, so that the children's well-being and interests are at least tended to while the legal process slogs for a protracted period of time.

Society can also do more in integrating housewives back into the workforce when the time comes for them to do so.

Most firms lack the know-how on integrating these women who might have left the workforce for some years; in fact, most Singaporean firms lack a recruitment policy targeted at returning women and one which is able to view their career gaps with a favourable lens.

The absence of an active induction creates a mutual loss as I can't think of a better multitasker than a housewife.

She is someone who can juggle the tasks of cleaning, cooking, playing with her children, ironing, delivering and collecting her children, putting together play structures, organising birthday parties and family gatherings, problem-solving, tending to the sick and caring for the elderly consistently, tirelessly and with the kind of endurance very few can even conceive.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Housewives - this is how Govt, society can help'. Print Edition | Subscribe