Statement by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim at the 3rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women
Chair of AMMW
1. First, on behalf of the Singapore delegation, I would like to express our appreciation to the government and people of Viet Nam for your warm and gracious hospitality.
2. My Minister, Mr Desmond Lee, has asked that I convey his apology for not being able to attend this meeting. He sends his best wishes for a successful meeting.
3. Singapore is fully committed to the advancement of women as integral and equal members of our society. Gender equality in Singapore is founded on the principle of meritocracy, where equal opportunities are available to men and women. Built upon that is the availability of fundamental resources such as education, social protection and healthcare for all citizens.
4. Singapore's practical and outcomes-based approach to social protection for women and girls is exemplified by our efforts under two thrusts: (i) eliminating barriers for women at the workplace, within the community and at home; and (ii) strengthening efforts to empower vulnerable groups of women.
Eliminating Barriers for Women
5. We believe that mind-sets need to be changed in order to eliminate barriers for women. This starts at home where the Singapore Government has been promoting marriage as an equal partnership. Leave provisions for fathers were enhanced, to encourage men to share parenting responsibilities. The Government also works closely with the Centre for Fathering, through the Dads for Life movement, to encourage active fathering and raise awareness of men’s roles and responsibilities as fathers, husbands and individual members of the family.
6. Women now have better support and more options to help balance work and family commitments. Schemes (e.g. WorkPro Work-Life Grant) have been put in place to encourage companies to offer flexible work arrangements to them. This is also extended to husbands and fathers to encourage them to play their part. The Singapore Government is ramping up childcare capacity especially in estates with many young families, and expanding eldercare services to support working caregivers. Mothers returning to the workforce after a break can also tap on SkillsFuture initiatives to upgrade their skills.
7. To strengthen women’s representation in leadership positions, the Diversity Action Committee was set up in 2014 to promote women’s representation on corporate boards in Singapore. 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.
Supporting and Empowering Vulnerable Groups of Women
8. The Singapore Government also has targeted assistance for groups of women who require more support. For example, to help elderly women better meet their retirement needs, the Government has made it easier for Central Provident Fund (CPF) members to transfer CPF savings to their spouses. Seniors with little or no savings may also receive Silver Support pay-outs. Initiatives, such as the Retirement and Re-employment Act, enable seniors who are willing and able to continue working beyond retirement to do so and boost their retirement savings.
9. Last but not least, Singapore is committed to eradicating violence against women, and has legislative framework and systems in place to protect women. For example, The Women’s Charter, Penal Code, Protection from Harassment Act, the Children and Young Persons Act and Prevention of Human Trafficking Act protect women and girls from violence and harassment. The Women’s Charter was amended in 2016 to enhance protection for victims of family violence and professionals engaged in protection work. The National Family Violence Networking System also provides multiple access points for victims to obtain help.
10. Singapore is humbled to have assumed the ASEAN chairmanship this year. We hope we have been a good host when you came to Singapore for the ASEAN meetings. We look forward to working with all of you to build a more resilient and innovative ASEAN in the years ahead.