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Female politicans should lead in changing mindsets on gender stereotypes: Halimah

Singapore will continue to help women juggle work and family commitments by aiming to provide a childcare place for one in every two children by 2017, says Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob.

GENEVA: Female politicians need to take the lead in changing mindsets and gender stereotypes to pave the way for more women to enjoy equal resources and opportunities for economic participation, said Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob.

Speaking at the meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday (Sep 4), Mdm Halimah said the politicians should also make concerted efforts to bring male counterparts on board and speak up when women's issues are sidelined or downplayed.

"There will be challenges but I am confident that we will be able to achieve what we have resolved to do through our commitment and verve," she said.


Citing Singapore as an example, Mdm Halimah pointed to education as the "key enabler for progress" for gender equality. For instance, the literacy rate for resident females aged 15 years and over, was 94.6 per cent in 2013, while female students made up more than half of the full-time student enrolment in local universities in 2013.

Women were also well-represented in university subjects traditionally viewed as male domains, she added.

The female labour force participation rate in prime working ages of 25 to 54 improved from 66.6 per cent in 2003 to 77.1 per cent 10 years later. Nearly 43 per cent of the Manager, Professional, Work Proprietor, Technician and Associate Professional positions in 2013 were held by women, while a third of all employers in the country were female, she said.

"This attests to the availability of opportunities for both men and women in Singapore," Mdm Halimah said.


As for ongoing plans to further help women balance family and work responsibilities, she said Singapore is expanding access to quality and affordable child- and elder-care facilities.

"Our target is to provide a childcare place for one in every two children by 2017," Mdm Halimah said. "The Government has also increased respite care for caregivers. Besides home-based and nursing home-based respite care services, weekend respite care is now available for caregivers."

She also pointed to the range of parenthood leave benefits, such as maternity, paternity, and shared parental leave, that women can tap on. "In particular, paternity and shared parental leave schemes were introduced in 2013 to promote shared responsibilities," she said.