SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) on Saturday (May 7) marked Mother's Day by raising $50,000 for charity, organising a bazaar to support underprivileged women, and issuing a call to honour and recognise caregivers.
Speaking at a physical event at NTUC Centre in Marina Boulevard, Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo, who chairs the PAP Women's Wing, said this year's event was special because it is coming on the heels of "a major milestone for all Singaporean women": a White Paper on Singapore Women's Development that was endorsed by Parliament last month.
"It is the first time in Singapore's history that there's been such a White Paper. This fact alone is significant," Mrs Teo told an audience of around 200 PAP MPs, activists, union members and partners. "While women's development will always be a journey without end, we appreciate the Government's commitment to this major milestone."
The Paper lays out a 10-year road map to ensure all women here have greater access to opportunities and more equal partnerships with men, among other recommendations.
Mrs Teo said it was part of the PAP Women's Wing's tradition for Mother's Day - held on May 8 annually - to raise funds to help the vulnerable in society.
Said Tanjong Pagar GRC MP and organising chair of the event Joan Pereira: "We hope fellow Singaporeans will do likewise to help the vulnerable in our midst."
She announced that the PAP's Women's Wing and Community Foundation had jointly raised $50,000 for five charities located within the Central Singapore District: the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, Homeless Hearts of Singapore, Home Nursing Foundation Senior Activity Centre, Montfort Care-Kreta Ayer Family Services and Reach Family Service Centre (Bishan).
The event was also attended by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang, and other PAP MPs.
It included a bazaar with six social enterprises - Green Cube, Sewing Mums, the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations, Singapore Fashion Runway, United Women Singapore and the Young Women's Christian Association - selling products to raise funds for the underprivileged.
Ms Pereira and Mrs Teo also noted in their speeches that a key focus area of the Women's White Paper was better recognition and support for caregivers - the majority of whom are still women.
"We know of many caregivers around us who continue to juggle multiple roles in the family and in the workplace, and they all need our support, whether from the Government, from companies or from each of us in society," said Ms Pereira.
This was the case for Ms Ann Chong, a 52-year-old mother of two, who took to the stage to share how her employer allowed her to bring her 18-year-old son with special needs to work with her, and how he had a teacher who helped nurture his artistic talent.
Homemaker Yasmin Nisha, 31, also spoke of the challenges in looking after her 69-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother, on top of her own four children aged from three months to nine years old.
Ms Yasmin had to leave her job as a clinic assistant to focus on her caregiving duties, but gets a hand from her eldest daughter. The girl helps her younger sister - who is in Primary 1 - with homework and by accompanying her to various activities.
Earlier this year Ms Chong, who came to Singapore from Malaysia 13 years ago after her husband died of leukaemia, set up a home decor company which converts artwork by her son Si Jun and others with special needs into customised furnishing.
She hopes to save enough money to create a trust fund for Si Jun and other vulnerable kids.
"We managed to get here not by myself but with support from others, which gave me the motivation to keep going," said Ms Chong in Mandarin. "I hope that the community can show a bit more love for caregivers. But we don't need pity, we need empathy."