Labour MP, Yeo Wan Ling shared in a Ministerial Statement earlier this year that she once met with a rather distraught constituent who was very stressed out about managing her caregiving responsibilities at home. This lady’s husband suffers from OCD and she has three young ones with the youngest one being a child with special needs. “After speaking with me at length about her issues, she actually heaved a sigh of relief and said that she would now go over to the nearby KFC.” Her me time. The lady went on to explain to Wan Ling that once a week, she would head to KFC for 45 minutes for a coffee break.
“All this woman needed was a fraction of it, for herself to rest. 45 minutes: an episode of a K drama, a meal, a nap. If we see our pots boiling over on the stove, do we not remove the lid a little to remove the pressure?”
Yeo Wan Ling: “Every woman warrior needs to be equipped with armour so that they can go the distance.”
Conflicting demands of work and caregiving responsibilities at home often pile on the pressure for women, and the pandemic has in some ways, exacerbated the situation. While all of us are facing unprecedented challenges, some studies have found that women are bearing the brunt of the economic and social fallout of Covid-19. An element of truth in that?
A large number of women in the lower-income group face even more challenges – job losses, lower incomes, and possibly increased violence. Interestingly, a study has also found that women were less satisfied with their marriages during and after the circuit breaker. Why though? Researchers say it could be because women had to take on more than their fair share of housework, among other stressors the pandemic has brought to daily life. Indeed, in many instances, women tend to carry a bigger share of the caregiving responsibilities at home. In doing so, many women have also given up their careers, often risking their financial security in the process. Some exit the workforce temporarily for caregiving duties. When they are ready to return, they find various barriers to re-entering the workforce. As a society, can we do more to build a fairer ecosystem with more choices for women to pursue their aspirations? How can women in Singapore’s society be better equipped with the “armour” to help them go the distance?
More Support for Women at Home, at Work and in The Community
As women in Singapore continue to face challenges at home, at work and in the community, they need a helping hand when it comes to exploring new career options, seeking support, forming alliances and more. Now, the PAP has been a champion for women since the beginning. Over the decades, the Government has consistently pursued policies that have enabled women to make strong progress. In 1989, PAP became the first political party in Singapore to launch a Women’s Wing.
The Unions have also been supporting and representing women in the workplace over the decades. In 1973, the NTUC set up a Women’s Committee. Through the Unions and the work of women unionists, the statuses of women in the workforce were uplifted and women’s participation in the Labour Movement increased.
Today, NTUC represents 330,000 women in the workplace. Women unionists and leaders continue to:
- fight for fairness and parity between the sexes in the workplace
- tend with care and dignity the welfare of underrepresented segments of the female workforce
- push boundaries for flexible work arrangements in the new normal
- create awesome work opportunities for our women workers.
In the days ahead, the role of Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling in the NTUC Women and Family Unit allows her to continue to strengthen the labour movement’s outreach to women, and work on protecting their livelihoods as well as supporting their careers.
“It is by capturing the diversity of the concerns and aspirations of our women warriors that we may best release their potential.” Ms Yeo Wan Ling, Director of Women & Family Unit, NTUC
*Cover image from Facebook: Yeo Wan Ling