Job security, advancement are concerns for women considering motherhood

PHOTO: ST FILE

Only 39,039 babies were born last year, a 1.5 per cent drop, while the death rate rose to 1.9 per cent (Number of babies born here drops to 8-year low, July 22).

Singapore has been struggling for the last 40 years with low fertility rates, with last year's rate of 1.14 being way below the replacement rate of 2.1.

This fertility slump can be attributed to reasons like wanting a secure and stable job amid the increasingly competitive workforce, the desire to achieve a higher standard of living, and the high cost of raising children.

Other reasons include long working hours and the fact that many women still lose job advancement opportunities due to motherhood.

Government incentives to encourage more babies include cash bonuses, childcare subsidies, subsidies on fertility treatments, and parental and childcare leave.

Many employers are increasingly supportive of working parents, providing nursing rooms and flexible working arrangements.

But it is also important to tackle the root problem: the high opportunity costs of bearing a child while having a secure job.

Couples should be allowed to split the maternity and paternity leave between themselves, allowing fathers more time and space to be involved in family matters so that the burden will not fall solely on the mother.

It is essential that women get equal job advancement opportunities.

Flexi-work should be normalised so that mothers can work whenever and wherever they want so as to cater to the needs of both their job and the child.

Nurul Abyana

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Job security, advancement are concerns for women considering motherhood'. Print Edition | Subscribe