PAP women's and youth wings to submit joint paper on women's issues to Government

The paper will set out recommendations on helping women thrive in a digitalised post-Covid-19 world. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party's (PAP) women's wing and youth wing will present a joint paper with proposals on furthering women's development to the Government in the coming months.

In Facebook posts on Sunday (May 23), PAP women's wing chairman Josephine Teo and Young PAP chairman Janil Puthucheary said the paper will set out recommendations on helping women thrive in a digitalised post-Covid-19 world.

"The pandemic has been difficult for all of us. Women especially, have had to adapt to new demands at home and at the workplace. Their resilience shines through," Mrs Teo said. She added that the pandemic has also increased the stresses and strains that women face in their careers and family life.

The paper will also address three other areas, she said.

First, how to give women more choices at home, in the workplace and in society.

Second, how to promote more equal sharing of caregiving responsibilities for children and elders between men and women.

Third, how to rally the whole of society to advance women's development, recognising that men can also help remove barriers.

Noting that Monday will mark the 60th anniversary of the Women's Charter, Mrs Teo and Dr Janil said they hoped the joint paper would "set new foundations for the future of women in Singapore" as the charter did in 1961.

The Women's Charter is a key piece of legislature that governs women's rights. Ms Chan Choy Siong, a PAP member and one of the first women to be elected as MP in Singapore, played a pivotal role in pushing for the law's passage.

Passed at a time when polygamous marriage was commonplace, the charter provided for monogamous marriage and the rights and duties of married people, as well as the division of matrimonial assets in the event of divorce.

It also sets out legal protections against family violence and other offences against vulnerable women and girls.

Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam, an adviser to the PAP women's wing, told The Straits Times that the recommendations came out of discussions and surveys conducted with members of the public from all walks of life earlier this year.

More than 1,500 comments and suggestions were gathered through online dialogues and a survey on caregiving created in collaboration with the National Trades Union Congress, she said.

Ms Rahayu said issues related to the perennial challenge of caregiving, which disproportionately falls on women, came up often during the discussions.

"There's a desire to make sure that there is a better balance between men and women sharing responsibilities, which links to the opportunities women are given at work," said the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Communications and Information.

"We must make sure that regardless of their circumstances, women will be able to make the choices they want and will be supported."

Ms Rahayu declined to reveal specific recommendations that will be made in the paper. She said they are still being refined following an online meeting between members of the women's wing and Young PAP on Saturday.

The paper will be submitted to the Government in a few months' time, she said.

She added that she hopes it will be taken into consideration in the drafting of a White Paper on women's issues that will be introduced in Parliament in the second half of this year.

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