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Minister Tan See Leng, Catania, Italy

1. Excellencies, good afternoon.

2. I would like to thank the Italian Presidency for your leadership in driving important decisions and discussions on fostering an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery.

3. I would also like to put on record our thanks to the ILO, OECD, social partners and engagement groups for your insights on this important topic.

4. Singapore would like to highlight our continued commitment to support more, better and equally paid jobs for women.

Encouraging and sustaining women participation in the workforce

5. Singapore’s only natural resource is our people, and we are committed to encouraging and sustaining women’s participation in our workforce. We have made good progress over the years, with equal access to quality education, increasing female literacy rates and increasing female participation in the workforce.

6. That said, many women opt out or stay out of the labour force to fulfil family commitments, often as primary caregivers.

A multi-pronged approach to help women enter, remain and progress in the workforce

7. To address this, Singapore takes active steps to build an ecosystem of support to empower women with choices to remain and further develop in their careers.

a. First, Singapore ensures women who wish to join or return to the workforce are able to gain access to employment. Depending on their interests and needs, they can tap on career coaching services and relevant employment support programmes to overcome various types of employment barriers. For example, we have the Career Trial to allow them to try out a potential employer first before committing to a permanent contract. Long-term unemployed and mature jobseekers, including women returning to work, are also eligible for higher support under various programmes that we have.

b.  Second, Singapore promotes the provision of flexible work arrangements and other initiatives such as enhanced leave benefits and well-being schemes to support work-life harmony. The Singapore government works closely with our tripartite partners as well as the community to recognise progressive employers and co-create resources and ground-up initiatives, so as to support the implementation of such practices.

c. Third, Singapore is proactively shifting social norms towards shared caregiving responsibilities. Empowerment of our women at work necessitates empowerment of our women at home. Apart from encouraging family-friendly workplaces, we have also enhanced the statutory provision of paternity and shared parental leave over the years.

d. Last but most important of all, Singapore ensures that workplaces are fair, progressive, and above all safe for all, including women. We take a strict enforcement stance against discrimination and harassment at workplaces, and supplement this with public education efforts.

Ensuring equality between men and women, and the further progress of women

8. Efforts to ensure equality between men and women, and the progress of women also need to go beyond the workplace. Any nation or any society that do not recognise the equal position and value of women would not live up to its potential.

9. Singapore women have made tremendous progress throughout the years. Even so, there is always room for greater progress. As such, Singapore has organised the Conversations on Singapore Women’s Development, as a series of public engagements to gather public feedback and to get ideas on how we can better support our women to pursue their dreams and aspirations. This will culminate in a White Paper, containing policy recommendations on how we can further support our women, and this will be submitted to Parliament.

10.  Singapore has also dedicated 2021 as the Year of Celebrating Singapore women to recognise the importance of women’s contributions to our Singapore story.


11. We look forward to learning from the experience and best practices from all of you of the G20 countries.

12. Thank you.