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Singapore Shows Good Progress Towards Gender Parity: Grace Fu

March 16, 2017

As the support system to build women career aspirations builds up in Singapore, the nation sees more women labour participation in the workforce, says Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

Stating that Singapore has seen labour participation rates steady at about 60 percent in the last few years, means there is another 40 percent to tap, said Ms. Fu speaking at the inaugural Crib Summit, a conference focused on topics such as female entrepreneurship, and women in the workplace and in leadership.

Considering that Singapore is facing higher demand for female labour on the backdrop of rapidly ageing population, she added, “a diverse workforce encourages innovation and creativity, which will help us stay ahead of industry-transforming disruptions and sustain our competitive advantage,” Straits Times reports.

Last year, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) for women was 60.4 per cent, according to the latest labour force survey released by the Ministry of Manpower in January. The figure was similar to that in 2015. For over a decade, the labour force participation rate for women was 54.3 per cent, as in comparison to men which remained stable at 76.2 percent over the last 10 years.

Some of the efforts to help women balance family and work include, firms providing ad hoc flexible work arrangements, such as unplanned time off and telecommuting rose from 70 percent in 2015 to 77 percent last year.

See: Another 21 Years to Achieve Gender Parity in the Workplace? Millennials Think

To help women re-enter the workforce and encourage shared parental responsibility, Singapore has also implemented several enhanced maternity benefit and leave schemes for working parents. Appreciating these efforts, Ms. Fu said, “Singapore has made good progress towards achieving gender parity.”

Ms Jolene Tan, head of advocacy and research at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), said the LFPR for women here still remains well below that of many, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations, which achieve 70 percent or more.

Ms. Tan added, that the nation’s overall figures do not seem to have achieved the “M” curve of some other developed economies, where the LFPR for females rises after a temporary dip in the early years of parenthood, as women return to the workforce.

Dr June Goh, president of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, noted the fact that since, “there is minimal change in the LFPR for males may mean that men may not be taking up the caregiver role in significant numbers.”

Also read: Sexism and Gender-Discrimination Continue to Hold Back Women in the Workplace

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