Our Women’s Wing champions support for SG Families at the WW Annual Conference 

Every year, our Women’s Wing (WW) gathers for a conference where activists, community partners and Members of Parliament (MPs) past and present share the latest, best ways to continue improving the lives of Singapore’s women. 

Accordingly, this year’s Annual Conference (Jul 29) was themed around policy advocacy for a whole-of-society effort towards Support for SG Families. It was timely: With Singapore’s ageing society and declining total fertility rate (TFR), local women are facing heavier caregiving responsibilities and expectations. 

Support for Singapore’s women to thrive 

Together with our partners, we will push for more support, resources and services that will enable women to be cared for, supported, and to thrive in every aspect of their lives,” said WW Chairwoman Sim Ann when the Conference opened this year.   

So that women, in turn, may best support their families while having the confidence to pursue their ambitions.” 

This push towards a whole-of-society effort will have weight behind it.  

As Chairwoman Sim noted, the WW puts its ideas into action. In the last few years its achievements for social causes include raising $637, 000 during Mother’s Day 2023 for mothers and children in need, launching a toolkit which supports girls and women facing online harm and proposing recommendations to the Government on women development that resulted in policy reviews, which included allowing Singapore’s women to freeze their eggs for more family planning options.  

And one direction for action? Powered-up Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs). 

“Flexible Work Arrangements provisions can help more caregivers continue or return to work, instead of taking a pause in their careers,” said WW Vice-Chairwoman Gan Siow Huang, also noting that Singaporean companies with over a hundred staff have six in 10 employees using FWAs according to a recent WW-NTUC U Women and Family survey. 

“This is especially pertinent for women who are bearing the heavier load of caregiving in their families. And if we want more women to return to work, FWAs are key,” added Gan who is also Organising Chairwoman of Women Wings Conference 2023. 

Learning journeys about FWAs, caregiver support and active fathering  

This support for FWAs was there too during the Learning Journey video with WW Research Head Yeo Wan Ling; these videos illustrate how Women’s Wing leaders (and one of our male MPs) partner with organisations and the community to support women at work and at home. 

“Coming back to the workplace isn’t just about having that balance,” said Research Head Yeo in the video, where she explored how Edy Tan of Chye Thiam Maintenance engages in FWAs. 

“It’s when you find the right employer. And there are many, many out there. Many people like Edy and his team.” 

WW Partnerships Head Carrie Tan’s Learning Journey meanwhile focused on building up caregiving in the community and around the neighbourhood. It was an especially pertinent message for those of us sandwiched between eldercare and childraising. 

“If we build up the community,” she said. “And have everyone know there is something we can all do as individuals to either give of our time or talent and a little love to go and help a caregiver by chipping in in some way, they will find that they are not alone in this journey and they can be supported.” 

“We started a lot of case management,” agreed Montfort Care CEO Samuel Ng during the Conference. 

“And we realized that at the end of the day, you just have to journey with the caregivers throughout the stages. Someone there they can talk to, someone there that can help if needed.” 

It was apt, then, that MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim’s (Chua Chu Kang GRC) Learning Journey showed how families benefit when dads collaboratively parent kids. 

“When you do that, you’re showing and showcasing to our children who are looking up at us that we are doing it as equal partners and they can do it also when they grow up,” he said as a message to all dads out there. 

We will keep families strong 

“Family is what’s important for all of us. Family is what anchors us. And it has always been a centrepiece of PAP — and PAP policy — to make sure that we look after families, keep families strong, and that all our social policies do that,” said Conference Guest-of-Honour WW Executive Committee Resource Panellist (and Second Minister for Finance and National Development) Indranee Rajah.

Her remarks came during a panel discussion with a diverse group, including Mr Ng, young mother-cum-entrepreneur Chua Wei-Shan and Head of Development at Centre for Fathering–Dads for Life (CFF-DFL) Eruandee Prayitna. 

She also mentioned the measures that we implemented recently which support Singapore’s families. There was the doubling of paid paternity leave, for example, and increasing childcare subsidies for more Singaporean parents. 

However, as the remarks by Chairwoman Sim and Vice-Chairwoman Gan as well as the three Learning Journeys also showed, ensuring support for Singapore’s families in general and Singapore’s women in particular is much more effective when it is a partnership involving mutual care.    

“It cannot be just one measure here or one measure there. We need the whole of society. We need everybody to come around, we need everybody to do their part,” emphasised Minister Indranee. 

Now, those are words to remember as we unite and take Singapore forward.