1. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, represented Singapore at the forum, “Shaping New Realities – The Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality” in Stockholm, Sweden on 16-17 April 2018. Organised by the Swedish Government, the forum aimed to contribute to equality for women through dialogue and exchange of best practices.
2. Associate Professor Faishal attended a roundtable discussion on 17 April 2018 (10.30am UTC+1). Hosted by H.E. Lena Hallengren, Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality, Sweden, and moderated by Mr Christopher Castle, Chief of UNESCO’s Section of Health and Education, the roundtable’s participants included H.E. Victoria Kalima, Minister of Gender, Zambia; H.E. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary General, Executive Director, UN Women; and H.E. Nenad Neric, State Secretary for Labour, Employment, Veteran Policy, Serbia.
3. During his engagement with panel members, Associate Professor Faishal highlighted the Singapore Government’s efforts in empowering women, our stakeholder approach, and the way forward in Singapore’s multi-cultural and multi-religious context.
4. At the roundtable discussion, Associate Professor Faishal highlighted the Singapore Government’s commitment to the advancement of our women, and the importance of their active participation in our country’s development. He noted that there has been steady progress in the advancement of women in Singapore over the past 10 years. For example, in the area of education, amongst resident females aged 25 to 34 years old, 80% had tertiary qualifications in 2016, up from 62% in 2006. The employment rate of women aged 25 to 64 years old has increased from 63% in 2006 to 72% in 2016. Women’s full-time median wage has grown by 5.3% per annum from 2006 to 2016, at a similar rate to that of men.
5. Associate Professor Faishal also elaborated on the Singapore Government’s continual efforts to support and advance women’s interests, coordinated through the Inter-Ministry Committee on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (UN CEDAW). He spoke about taking a gender-sensitive perspective on issues that have differing impact on women and men. For instance, in the area of women’s health - recognising that women had different health needs compared to men, the Women’s Health Advisory Committee was set up in 2012 to promote the health and well-being of women. The Committee was enhanced in 2016 as the Women’s Health Committee and focuses on key health issues among women (i.e. increasing cancer screening uptake, promoting bone health and fighting diabetes, particularly gestational diabetes).
6. Associate Professor Faishal noted that there are areas where Singapore could improve further. For example, to strengthen women’s representation in leadership positions, the Diversity Action Committee was set up in 2014 to champion and bring more women onto corporate boards in Singapore. To enable more women to enter and remain in the workforce, the Singapore Government will continue to promote work-life initiatives, such as flexible work arrangements. The Government has also promoted shared-parenting and equal partnership in the family through public education programmes, as well as introduced initiatives and schemes to support the retirement adequacy of the older generation of women.