Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls
Thank you, Chair.
1 Singapore is strongly committed to the advancement of all women and girls and reaffirms our support for the full, effective, and accelerated implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. We also reaffirm our commitment to CEDAW, and our support for CSW in advancing efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 51.
2 The priority theme for this year is timely. Empowering our women and girls to access and use technology will bring about inclusive, sustainable growth in this digital age.
3 In Singapore, almost half of our residents aged 25 years and over with university qualifications are women, and 3 in 4 women aged 25 to 64 years old are employed. Singapore is also ranked 7th worldwide for gender equality in the latest UN Human Development Report.
4 We have high digital connectivity, and about 40% of our tech professionals are women, well above the global average of 28%. We continue to attract and support female talent in tech through partnership with the community, academia and industry, such as the SG Women in Tech movement, which provides mentoring and networking opportunities and programmes. We aim to do more based on this partnership approach, to create the enablers and a conducive environment for women and girls to pursue their aspirations, including navigating the digital world safely, confidently and successfully.
Singapore's progress on women's development
5 While we have made good progress, there is always more that can be done. Last year, Singapore published the White Paper on Singapore Women's Development, developed in consultation with Singaporeans from various walks of life, including men and youths, over a year-long nationwide engagement.
6 The White Paper reflects our aspirations, our shared vision where men and women partner each other as equals to fulfil their aspirations freely and fully, including in the family – the bedrock of our societies, and where this equal partnership is nurtured and promoted.
7 It sets out 25 action plans by the Government and the community in areas most salient to women, such as equal opportunities in the workplace, recognition and support for caregivers and protection from violence and harm. We will be updating Parliament on the progress of our action plans every five years.
8 On online harms, the Government passed a new Online Safety Act after extensive consultation with stakeholders, which took effect on 1 February 2023. Social media services will be required to minimize Singapore users' exposure to harmful content and empower users with tools to manage their own safety. Social media services will have to make available an easy-to-use mechanism for Singapore users to report harmful content and unwanted interactions and provide transparency on the effectiveness of their measures in protecting Singapore users from harmful content and thus ensure online safety.
9 The Online Safety Act is complemented by the Protection from Harassment Act which criminalises harassment and doxxing. A dedicated Protection from Harassment Court was established in 2021.
10 To manage their own safety, our children or their parents will also be equipped with knowledge and skills needed to make informed decisions when using online services. Starting from primary schools, children are taught lessons on cyber-wellness and online safety.
11 Mindset shifts away from gender stereotypes are necessary for next bound of progress. This requires a whole-of-society effort. For instance,
a. Parents and schools should encourage children and youths to respect one another, overcome gender stereotypes and explore education pathways and careers aligned to their interests and skills, including in STEM.
b. Employers and colleagues should address stereotypes about women's aptitude for certain types of work, recognise their capabilities instead and support them to fulfil their potential.
12 Chair, Singapore values the importance of equal partnership between men and women. We will continue our efforts to build a fairer and more inclusive society, where both men and women are empowered to realise their potential and achieve their aspirations.
1 Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality