Safety net for housewives

If society values the contribution of housewives, it should put into place a safety net.
If society values the contribution of housewives, it should put into place a safety net.PHOTO: ST FILE

It is heartening to see the ongoing discussion on housewives (Pay housewives a salary, by Mr Cheng Choon Fei, March 15; and Housewives - this is how Govt, society can help, by Madam Lily Ong, March 21).

As Madam Lily Ong stated, no one beats a housewife in multitasking.

Yet, the very word "housewife" has negative connotations in today's society, conjuring up an image of a person who can do nothing else or has no qualifications to justify her getting a proper job.

However, one has to only look around to see the negative effects of a society in which children are left in the hands of strangers as caregivers.

These children later grow up to be latchkey kids with no supervision, and many may fall prey to the addictive powers of the Internet, bad company, drugs and other potentially harmful habits.

For this very reason too, many women put off having children, or decide not to have them altogether.

Neither society nor the Government provides a safety net that encourages women to give up lucrative careers, or for families where both partners have to work to let go of an important part of income in order to focus on bringing up well-adjusted, happy future citizens.

By not drawing a salary, a woman also forfeits retirement benefits such as the Central Provident Fund nest egg she would have accumulated.

If society values the contribution of housewives, it should put into place a safety net. This could be in the way of a financial fund, with monthly contributions from both the main working spouse and the Government, made available to her under certain circumstances, such as a divorce, or when the children have all grown up and become independent.

This would also give women more courage to exit from an abusive marriage, secure in the knowledge that they will have the financial means to look after their children.

Nasreen Ramnath (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'Safety net for housewives'. Print Edition | Subscribe