Fairness at workplace, caregiver support among recommendations in White Paper on women's issues

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo (left) and Presenter Yasmin Jonkers at the CNA Leadership Summit 2022: Women Inspiring Change. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - Several recommendations including enshrining fairness at the workplace, support for caregivers, as well as strengthening protection for victims of sexual offences and family violence will be part of a White Paper on women's issues that will be "presented soon", said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo on Tuesday (Mar 8).

Mrs Teo, who is also the chairperson of the People's Action Party's (PAP) Women's Wing, was speaking at the 2022 CNA Leadership Summit, which was held on International Women's Day.

The White Paper was first set forth by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the closing session of Conversations on Singapore Women's Development in September last year, where he outlined three broad areas in which Government policies and programmes can help level the playing field for women.

These are: more equal workplace opportunities, more caregiver support and increased protection for women, both physically and online.

Titled Conversations on Singapore Women's Development, the comprehensive review of issues affecting women was first announced the year before in September 2020. It involved engaging and working with partners from the people and private sectors, as well as women's and youth groups.

PM Lee had said the Government would study the views it has received on issues brought up during a year-long review concerning women to develop and implement these proposals.

Mrs Teo said that the upcoming White Paper will have "many important recommendations".

"It's also important to recognise that in putting together the White Paper, what matters most is what our women want, and what they tell us is important in their lives," she said.

"It's not policymakers (or) the team just looking at numbers, looking at analysis and then thinking about it...that is important, but ultimately we want to hear from the ground, (and) what's important to you day-to-day experience."

Mrs Teo noted "enthusiastic" participation from thousands of women.

"Very interestingly, lots of men were part of the conversation too...that was very refreshing," she added.

There was also a "bumper crop" of recommendations from the PAP Women's Wing.

She went on to highlight three recommendations in the White Paper that were "particularly responsive to what women have told us last year".

The first is enshrining fairness in the workplace, whether it is in terms of recruitment, advancement or how harassment is being dealt with, she said.

For example, results from a study conducted by women's rights group Association of Women for Action and Research last year showed that women who experience sexual harassment at work often go through extended periods of low work productivity and have lower job satisfaction due to strained relationships with colleagues.

The second recommendation is enhancing support for home-based caregiving.

"The majority of caregivers are still women and this is absolutely necessary because families that have to deal with frail seniors for the long term need better support and more relief," said Mrs Teo.

The third recommendation will address violence against women, sexual offences and family violence.

"It would be in strengthening protection for victims of sexual offences and violence and making it absolutely clear that there is no place for such things in Singapore, and women should really not have to bear with it," she said.

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