It is tough being a woman, you have to admit. They wear many hats and have to juggle between work and family. They sometimes also face discrimination and have people look down on them because they are female. Sometimes they are unlucky and meet with chi kopeks (dirty men) at work too! Since this year is the Year of Celebrating SG Women, we thought we would run a special piece to show our love and appreciation towards them.
After our mothers became a mother
In the 1970s, most women didn’t have much choice and ended up being housewives after having children. Back then, most families were traditional, and mothers were always the ones who were expected to take care of the children and family. There were also no affordable childcare options then and mothers just had to shoulder the burden. Most of them also bao ga liao (do everything), take care of the kids, do housework and cook for the family.
Fast forward to today, the situation is much better, and many modern women have returned to the workforce after having children. These changes didn’t just happen overnight, it took a group of brave women, like our laoniang (mother), who spoke up and helped fight for their rights! This group of unionists formed a women’s committee and talked about equality for women and fought for issues like equal wages. They also identified that women needed affordable and quality childcare centres before they could go back to work.
Having affordable and reliable childcare
Their work led to the first NTUC Childcare centre in 1977, which we now know as NTUC First Campus. Do not belittle the power of a good and affordable childcare centre. That alone has allowed countless women to be able to return to work by solving one main concern for them. Apart from providing childcare and infant care centres, significant subsidies are also provided to make childcare even more affordable and accessible to Singaporeans. Working mums receive a subsidy of up to $710 monthly for infant care services!
Future of work for women: Flexi-work arrangements
Beyond childcare services, some women feel that more can still be done. Some of them wanted to work, but not for the full day or for fixed hours. Hence, the Government pushed for companies to provide flexible work arrangements for these women. The women all have different requests – some want to Work from Home, some prefer to work in office but want to be near their homes while others just want to work half day on some days etc. Huh, then it’s quite difficult to make them all happy right?
So, to help solve this problem, Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling said she wanted to help companies “redesign work for women”. Because all women have different focuses at different life stages, the way forward is to introduce lots of flexibility and encourage bosses to adopt such a culture. But it’s definitely do-able, as shown by the CB and working from home. So bosses now have fewer excuses on why they don’t want to allow their employees to work from home!
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