STAY-AT-HOME mothers play a vital role in nurturing our families, and for many years, PAP women MPs have championed the cause of providing them with more security and empowerment.
With the introduction of government programmes such as the Pioneer Generation Package, MediShield Life and Silver Support Scheme, stay-at-home mothers can now enjoy greater independence, with improved assurance of health care and financial support in their autumnal years.
The SkillsFuture initiative is a game changer, especially for housewives who, until now, do not benefit from employer-sponsored training. For the first time, women can take charge of their own skills development.
Stay-at-home mothers can continue to keep their skills current, which will then ease their re-entry into the workforce, should they so choose. We hope all women will seize this opportunity to embrace lifelong learning and leverage SkillsFuture to pursue their life goals.
The tight labour market has enabled more women to be re-employed and to enjoy more flexible work arrangements.
Employers can tap into the pool of 190,900 economically inactive women, still in their prime working age. They will need to think creatively about making jobs more attractive and flexible.
Improvements in childcare capacity and services have also helped women better juggle family and work commitments. As a result, the women labour force participation rate at prime working age is now at an all-time high of 76 per cent, having grown at its fastest rate in four years.
Of course, there are still areas for improvement. We are concerned that stay-at-home mothers, not having accumulated much Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings, cannot benefit from the latest CPF enhancements.
They will continue to rely on their spouses' CPF for their retirement. Therefore, even as the CPF enhancements provide members with greater flexibility, it must be exercised with the goal of also providing retirement adequacy for their spouses.
The Government is encouraging spouses and children to top up the Retirement Accounts of their loved ones, by paying an additional 1 percentage point for the first $30,000 for members above 55.
I have asked that joint consent of both spouses be required when a member's CPF withdrawal is linked to a CPF charge on the couple's jointly owned property.
There is still much we can do to educate and encourage couples to optimise their CPF balances. Financial literacy and understanding of the latest CPF changes are essential to help women attain retirement adequacy. The PAP Women's Wing will start a movement to help women and their families understand the impact of these changes and to make better decisions for the family
This article was first published on Mar 13, 2015.
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