Singapore — At the South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) virtual “Women of Our Time” conference in honour of International Women’s Day earlier this week, President Halimah Yacob underlined the need for countries to make gender equality a priority, given the threat the pandemic has posed to women’s progress.
Women have become particularly vulnerable at this time, she said, what with many sectors affected by the pandemic and women having to care for their children’s educational and other needs while forced to stay home.
In her keynote speech at the conference, Mdm Halimah spoke of three specific areas to work on in order to ensure gender equality.
Mdm Halimah wrote about these on her Facebook page:
First, governments need to prioritise gender equality and place it at the centre of their development programmes to better integrate women in the economy and society. Second, we need to ensure that women have equal access to education, training and labour market information so that they can participate meaningfully in the economy. And third, we need to see greater, measurable improvements in workplaces to reduce differences in job opportunities, hierarchical positions and wage gaps between women and men.
Mdm Halimah, the first woman president of Singapore, also emphasised that perceptions concerning gender roles need to change.
This “is probably the most difficult to [achieve], as you cannot legislate [it] but need to continuously educate and engage to encourage more positive social norms and behaviours,” she said in her speech.
The endeavour to change is reflected in the country declaring 2021 the “Year of Celebrating Singapore Women”.
Mdm Halimah said, “We will also celebrate men who helped to debunk stereotypes, change mindsets and play an active role in supporting and uplifting women.”
Among the other speakers at the SCMP conference were Ms Delia Domingo Albert, former foreign secretary of the Philippines; Ms Joey Wat, chief executive officer of Yum China; Emily Lam-Ho, an entrepreneur and a council member on the Women’s Commission in Hong Kong; and Tan Hooi Ling, co-founder of Singapore-based ride-sharing company Grab.
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