Lightening caregivers’ load & protecting against online harm: PAP continues to champion women’s causes

The PAP’s roots involve recognising just how important women are in building a nation. And the Party’s Women’s Wing remains committed, through initiatives like #ActionForHer, towards championing women’s needs and causes.

“Although much has been done, women’s development is really a journey without end,” said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo to the approximately 500 attendees at the Annual Conference for the Women’s Wing on Sep 10.

“A big part of our effort must be focused on our caregivers,” continued Minister Teo, who is also Chairperson of the PAP Women’s Wing. “Women still tend to be the primary caregivers in their families, and at some point in our lives as women, whether as a sister, mother or daughter, we will likely be a caregiver.”

“Being a caregiver,” Minister Teo stated, “is both hard work and ‘heart’ work. It takes a lot out of a person.”

Resultingly, the Women’s Wing is supporting caregivers through its Concentric Circles of Care approach.

Concentric Circles of Care are growing

These Concentric Circle of Care are 1) Action, 2) Advocacy and 3) Allies:

  • Action involves providing affordable and reliable care services for children and the aged. In practical terms, this means that teachers at the PAP Community Foundation’s approximately 300 SparkleTots centres care for 40,000 children every weekday while parents are busy working. It has also entailed building seven Sparkle Care Centres since 2015 for seniors, which focus on day care, rehabilitation and dementia care.
  • Advocacy is raising concerns about caregiving to the Government while speaking from deep understanding and on-the-ground experience. The expanding Anchor Operator and Partner Operator Preschool Scheme, which aims to provide at least 80 per cent of households with affordable and quality full-day childcare, and reduce out-of-pocket expenses on preschool fees alone to 5 per cent of household income per child, is one key result. A new law for strengthening workplace fairness, and allowing egg freezing for women are two other tangible outcomes.

“Because we walk the ground and roll up our sleeves to get directly involved in providing services, our MPs speak from a position of deep understanding when they raise concerns in Parliament and other public platforms,” Minister Teo noted.

  • Seeking Allies in caregiving creates a ripple effect, connecting more and more caregivers with one another for a bigger difference in Singapore. It articulates the Women’s Wing belief in collective action.

The theme of this year’s Women’s Wing Conference exhibition and programme, Growing Our Circles of Care, was a “live” demonstration of ally-making in action, Minister Teo explained. There were, joining the event, a total of 23 social service providers for caregivers — with some experienced and established, and others newly-launched from the ground up by young, practical-minded Singaporeans who believe in ademocracy of deeds”.       

“The PAP Women’s Wing will continue to strengthen our efforts in taking action, advocating practical ways forward and supporting our allies in women’s development,” shared Minister Teo.

#ActionForHer, the White Paper and stepping up efforts against online harm

Saturday’s event was a landmark one for the Women’s Wing: It was the first fully-physical conference in three years, its approximately 500 guests doubled the attendance of other similar conferences, the exhibition by the 23 social service providers had never before been done, it extended the popular Sep 2021 to Mar 2022 #ActionForHer campaign — and about one-third of Parliament attended.

This number included DPM Lawrence Wong, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for National Development as well as Foreign Affairs Sim Ann and Minister of State for Social and Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah  — this testament to the Party’s ability to recognise women as capable senior leadership and have a surfeit of female role models for current and future comrades.

“I’m truly thankful for this opportunity to shape this year’s conference. Thank you, Minister Jo, for the opportunity and the guidance to make this happen,” said MP Carrie Tan (Nee Soon), Organising Chair for the Women’s Wing Conference this year. “We want to encourage all our activists, who have always been active in the community, to lend their support to new and innovative projects, and to contribute to causes that can help lighten the load for families.”

The landmark White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development unveiled in Mar 2022 was one such innovation helmed by the Women’s Wing. It consists of 25 action plans in five areas: equal opportunities in the workplace, recognition and support for caregivers, protection against violence and harm, other support measures for women and mindset shifts.

“The PAP Government reaffirmed our commitment towards realizing the shared vision of a fairer and more inclusive society, where women and men partner each other as equals, and both can pursue their aspirations freely and to the fullest,” said Minister Teo about the Paper.

New action which further empowers girls and women to combat online harm is forthcoming.

“At this year’s International Women’s Day, we launched a toolkit that equips MPS volunteers with the skills to respond to victims of online harms, a cause which many of our men and women MPs champion.,” said Minister Teo. “We did so to protect our girls and women by enabling them to take effective action against online harms. You’ll hear more about this in the months to follow.”