Policies still entrench women as the 'weaker' sex

I agree with Ms Ethel Tan Hui Yan that to achieve gender equality, family gender norms must be tackled ("To break glass ceilings, tackle family gender norms"; Nov 26).

Spousal maintenance laws, first enacted in 1961, have served as a safety net for women for many years. In today's society, however, this safety net has become a "spider's web", trapping women into their role as caregivers.

At a parliamentary debate earlier this year, the motion to extend spousal maintenance to able-bodied men did not receive as much support as that for men who cannot support themselves, whether owing to illness or severe disability ("MPs debate maintenance payouts for men"; March 1).

Most Singaporean women are unwilling to extend spousal maintenance support to all men because doing so means having to give up their financial advantage over men.

Western countries lead the way in gender equality.

In America and Britain, men are allowed to claim maintenance support from their former wives.

In 2013, Norway introduced compulsory military conscription for women.

Genuine equality means equal sharing of benefits and responsibilities between the sexes.

Equality can be achieved only if Singaporean women play their part in breaking away from gender roles.

Sulthan Niaz

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'Policies still entrench women as the 'weaker' sex'. Print Edition | Subscribe