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Speech for the APEC Women and the Economy Forum's High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy

Seizing Opportunities for Women and Girls to Advance in the Digital Age

1   On behalf of my delegation, I would like to thank the Government of Papua New Guinea for organising this Forum and extend our appreciation for your warm hospitality.

2   The digital age has brought about unprecedented changes in how we live and work. This year’s theme is a timely reminder that we must continue empowering women and girls and promote inclusive opportunities so that no one gets left behind. Allow me to share Singapore’s experience in enhancing support for women’s leadership and our partnership efforts.

3   Chair, Singapore is fully committed to the advancement of all women and girls. Equal opportunities are available to all citizens and founded on the principle of meritocracy. We aim to provide an enabling environment that supports our people in maximising their potential and advancing into leadership roles. To this end, we provide equal opportunities and access to resources, and eliminate barriers in the workplace, community, and at home.

Equal opportunities and access to resources

4   Recognising that education is a key enabler, all Singaporean children have equal access to quality education. In 2017, the literacy rate for women was 95.7%. Employment is one of the pathways to economic empowerment. Singapore encourages the adoption of merit-based, fair, responsible and progressive employment practices. As a result, women in Singapore contribute actively to the economy. In 2017, the labour force participation rate of women in their prime working ages of 25 to 54 years was 80.8%. In today’s digital age, we need to continuously train and upgrade our skills to remain relevant. Initiatives such as the SkillsFuture movement encourage our people, both women and men, to do so.

Eliminating barriers

5   Women take on many roles at work and at home. We support them in achieving personal and professional aspirations in several ways. This includes promoting worklife initiatives, such as flexible work arrangements, to support them in entering and remaining in the workforce. We also aim to provide affordable, quality and accessible child care and elder care services. We promote the value of shared-parenting and equal partnership in the family. For example, we introduced paternity leave for fathers and enhanced it over the years.

Advancing women’s leadership in Singapore

6   Chair, Singapore actively supports women’s participation in leadership positions. One of our priorities is to improve women’s representation on corporate boards. Despite progress in education and employment, women are underrepresented on boards in Singapore. We formed the Diversity Action Committee (or DAC) in 2014 to promote women’s representation on corporate boards in Singapore, and expand the pool of board-ready women. It comprises illustrious leaders from the people, private and public sectors.

7   In April 2017, DAC set a triple-tier target of 20% by 2020, 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 for women’s representation on boards of listed companies. The DAC’s work has shown gradual progress. As of June 2018, women’s representation on boards of top 100 primary-listed companies on the Singapore Exchange was 14.7%, up from 8.6% in 2014.

8   Beyond corporate leadership, women in Singapore are able to enter politics based on their own merits. They are actively involved as community leaders, engaging people from all walks of life. We will continue encouraging more women to take on leadership roles.

Partnership with stakeholders

9   Chair, Singapore takes a coordinated whole-of-government approach in empowering women. The Inter-Ministry Committee on CEDAW implements and monitors policies and initiatives to address women’s needs under their respective domain. Where there are cross-cutting issues, we come together to work through them.

10   Concerted efforts from the people, private, and public sectors is also crucial to continuously enhance the status of women. The DAC is an example of this multistakeholder approach.

11   Another example is the Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy. It comprises the Government, unions, employers and the human resource associations. The tripartite partners have made steady progress over the years in promoting the adoption of flexible work arrangements by employers.

Concluding comments

12   Chair, the digital age brings opportunities and challenges for all. I am confident that this forum will galvanise efforts in empowering all women and girls to seize opportunities in the digital age.

13   Thank you.​

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Published On Fri, Sep 7, 2018
Last Reviewed On Fri, Sep 7, 2018

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