Singaporean women have come a long way since the 1970s and 80s. They are now independent, well-travelled, and more highly-educated.
“The old stereotype of a woman’s role being confined to a homemaker is no longer valid,” said Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, at The Singapore Women’s Weekly Great Women of Our Time Awards at Four Seasons Hotel last night. “Women have proven that we are more than capable of holding our own in the workplace. We should be proud of our achievements,” she added.
Mrs Yu-Foo noted that the literacy rate of women in Singapore aged 15 years and older was 94.7 per cent in 2009, up from 89 per cent in 2000. The global female literacy rate is 79 per cent.
The improvements in women’s education have translated into greater earning power. Mrs Yu-Foo noted that the median gross monthly income for full-time female workers was 9.1 per cent lower than that of males – an improvement from 15.5 per cent in 1999. “In fact, in the younger age groups, some of our women are earning more than their male counterparts,” she said.
While Singaporean women have achieved a lot, they should not rest on their laurels either. Mrs Yu-Foo pointed out that women are generally more vulnerable, financially, as they tend to leave the workforce much earlier in order to take care of their families. As such, many are unable to save up for retirement.
“There is a need to ensure that women plan early for an active and purposeful retirement. We should encourage them to enter or re-enter and remain in the workforce for as long as they are able and wish to,” said Mrs Yu-Foo, who highlighted training and re-skilling programmes such as the Back2Work with U Programme by NTUC.
The Minister also called for a change in mindset for both men and women to help women manage the “double burden of work and home”, pointing out that more young fathers today are involved with child-rearing and household responsibilities.