Community support networks vital to tackle Indian women's issues at home, workplace: Indranee

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah (second from right) during a dialogue to discuss issues that affect women in the Indian community.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah (second from right) during a dialogue to discuss issues that affect women in the Indian community.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - A lack of community support for older women and prevailing gender stereotypes at home were some of the pressing issues concerning Indian women, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah on Saturday (April 17).

Speaking on the sidelines of a dialogue session attended by 46 men and women from the Indian community, Ms Indranee said a network of support for women was vital to tackle issues at home, workplaces, schools and in the community.

Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance and National Development, said: "Many of the participants felt that they would be more comfortable talking to another woman if they have problems.

"So women's support networks are something that should be looked at so women can go for help, to gain knowledge, to upskill and to connect with other like-minded women."

She was joined by MP for Sembawang GRC Vikram Nair at the event held at Singapore Khalsa Association.

The session was part of the Conversations on Singapore Women's Development series launched in September, last year.

The initiative aims to gather feedback and recommendations on women's issues, which will then be consolidated into a White Paper and submitted to Parliament in the second half of this year.

More than 100 dialogues have been planned to gather views from Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Saturday's event was organised by Reach, in collaboration with the Young Sikh Association, Singapore Khalsa Association, Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and Sinda Youth Club, to discuss issues that affect women in the Indian community.

While gender stereotypes at home still existed to some extent, Ms Indranee said the worldview of younger generations had begun to evolve, paving the way for change.

Mothers, who bridge the gap between older and younger generations, appear to be the catalysts, she said.

She said: "The way they brought up their sons and daughters have a profound effect on their worldview and mindset.

"Mothers have encouraged them to see men and women as equals, to see their roles as shared responsibilities. That's why it's better for the younger generation."

Recurring issues and common themes raised across these sessions will likely find its way into the White Paper, said Ms Indranee.

She added: "But there'll be many other suggestions which can be implemented through Alliances for Action and various organisations. None of the good suggestions that have been put forward will be wasted at all. We'll find a way of making sure we can act on it."

Professor Berinderjeet Kaur, 66, who was one of the participants, said she found the lively discussions enlightening.

"I've not personally felt any discrimination in my workplace but the discussions have broadened my horizons to pay more attention to what's going on in other areas," she said.