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Speech at UN Women SNOW Gala Dinner

Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower, Capella Hotel

Ms Georgette Tan, President of the Singapore Committee for UN Women,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. I am pleased to join you this evening to raise funds in support of women empowerment in Singapore and in the region.

2. Globally, the fight for a better future for all women continues. In some countries, women are denied equal educational and employment opportunities. In others, violence against women remains a concern.

3. Most of us in Singapore have benefitted from a safe environment but we must continue to do more to advance the causes of women.

Progress in Singapore

4. I am heartened by the socio-economic progress our women have made over the years.

5. Singapore’s female employment rate has improved steadily. Over the last three years, it averaged 72%, higher than the 69% average in the previous three years.

6. Our gender pay gap is also narrowing . It is now on par with the top 10 OECD countries, and ahead of countries like Australia, Germany, and the United States. In some occupations like accountants, securities and finance brokers, our women earn even higher median incomes than men.

7. In addition, more women are excelling in their occupations, and becoming “gamechangers” in their respective fields. In law and enforcement, we have Ms Florence Chua who became the first female director of CID and Deputy Commissioner of Police. In architecture, Ms Angelene Chan of DP Architects is the first female CEO among the top five architectural firms in Singapore. In sports, Ms Angela Lee is the youngest Mixed Martial Arts World Champion. And of course, we have Madam President Halimah Yacob, our first female Head of State.

Gamechangers in our own regard

8. Apart from these high-achieving women who shine in their respective fields, we especially want to celebrate ordinary women who are doing extraordinary things day in, day out - whether at the workplace or at home.

9. Take for example, Mrs Sabrina Chan, a Senior Audiometric Technician with Changi General Hospital (CGH) who conducts hearing assessments for patients.

10. When she had her first child six years ago, Sabrina took six months of unpaid leave. She then chose to go back to work on a part-time basis so she could spend more time caring for her baby.

11. This flexible work arrangement has allowed Sabrina to fulfill her goals as a devoted mother, productive employee, as well as a financially independent and supportive wife. Her understanding employer and helpful co-workers enabled her to continue this working arrangement when she had two more children.

12. Having such a successful flexible work arrangement is a win-win for both employee and employer. CGH is able to retain valuable employees like Sabrina who had to undergo extensive training on-the-job as well as a year of supervised clinical experience, before being able to work independently. Women like Sabrina who are empowered to balance both career and family responsibilities, make valuable contributions to our workforce and society.

Empowering through choice

13. The Government will continue to improve the future of our women by expanding their choices and opportunities.

14. We will continue to support the adoption of flexible work arrangements through the enhanced Work-Life Grant, encouraging greater shared parental responsibilities, and providing more affordable and accessible childcare facilities.

15. I urge employers and co-workers to support efforts to build family-friendly workplaces, where women can pursue their career aspirations and family goals.

Conclusion

16. We can each play a part in making our workplaces, homes and society inclusive and conducive for women in Singapore to thrive.

17. When we empower women, we are standing together with mothers, sisters, wives and aunts, and all the ladies we know. Together we can create a better future that shines brighter for us all. Thank you and I wish everyone here a great evening.

Last Updated: 28 September 2018