White Paper on women's development honours Singapore women, commits to further progress: Josephine Teo
SINGAPORE: The White Paper on women’s development is ultimately about honouring Singapore women, recognising their place in society, and committing to achieve further progress for them, said Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo on Tuesday (Apr 5).
Closing off a debate in Parliament that lasted more than nine hours, Mrs Teo noted the discussion’s greatest contribution was in “upholding the values we hold dear as a society”.
These values will also serve as “a north star” as Singapore seeks out the next milestones in women’s development, she said.
Specifically, she outlined three such values underpinning women's development here: The equality of men and women, the value of partnership, and mutual respect between the two groups.
EQUALITY, PARTNERSHIP AND RESPECT
Firstly, while history is “replete” with examples of women being subjugated by men, Mrs Teo said the debate showed such “narrow-mindedness towards women” is firmly rejected in Singapore.
“No one is left in doubt that Singapore women should have equal opportunities to pursue their aspirations, as much as men.”
The debate, in which more than 40 MPs participated, also upheld the value of partnership – such as between men and women, at work and at home, she said.
“We believe that more for girls and women does not mean less for boys and men. Workplace fairness and caregiver support benefit women, as well as men.
“In a true partnership, both gain from each other’s growth. This is the only sustainable way forward.”
A third essential value is that of mutual respect between women and men, she said.
“Mutual respect shapes our attitudes and beliefs about women and men. They reach the corners of our minds that laws, regulations, guidelines and practices will never fully reach.
“They determine the culture and norms within which we all live.”
This respect also means that women should not be exploited, sidelined or stereotyped. Instead, they should be recognised for their contributions, and empowered to succeed, she said.
BUILDING A FAIRER SOCIETY
Rounding up her speech, Mrs Teo added that these core values must "endure with every step we take in advancing women’s interests".
Recalling the women in her life who have helped her succeed, she said: "At its core, the White Paper is about enabling all the women around us to be the best that they can be, so we can in turn empower each other, as role models, as teachers and mentors, as advocates and champions, as helpers and supporters.”
The ultimate goal is to build a fairer and more inclusive society, where women – partnering men as equals – can fulfil their aspirations “freely and fully”, she added.