'Norms are slowly but surely changing'

'Norms are slowly but surely changing'
Profile of a single mum.

SINGAPORE - But no, says the Government. They won't get everything married mothers are entitled to, like a total of 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. (See other report).

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Monday that these additional benefits are given "to encourage and support parenthood within the context of marriage".

This form of parenthood is a prevailing societal norm in Singapore which the Government seeks to preserve, he added.

A National Population And Talent Division survey released last year showed that 80 per cent of single respondents and 85 per cent of married respondents feel that only legally married couples should have children. This survey involved 4,646 respondents.

Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Kuik Shiao-Yin and MP Seah Kian Peng tell The New Paper on Sunday that they will continue to push for single mothers to have greater access to benefits and help.

Ms Kuik says: "I hope that the state can seriously consider giving equal maternity leave or Child Development Account (CDA) dollar- for-dollar matching benefit to single mothers."

Now, unwed mothers do not receive the Baby Bonus cash gift of $6,000 or the Government's co-matching contribution of up to $6,000 in the baby's CDA.

Both Ms Kuik and Mr Seah predict that things will change eventually.

Mr Seah says the extent of benefits provided and the speed at which they are given out are works in progress. "The system has been dynamic, not static," he adds.

Public sentiment is also changing, points out Ms Kuik. "The state is probably well aware that public mores are changing and there is growing public acceptance of single mothers."

She adds that the state tends to take a more conservative approach, allowing itself more time to calibrate policies.

The Government may monitor the benefits given to single mothers and see if it encourages the single-parent family model.

If it does not, but instead creates positive outcomes, more benefits may be given, she explains.

Ms Kuik, a new mother reasons: "I champion (the cause of) single mothers simply because I am now a mother myself, and can empathise with the beauty and burden of parenthood.

"I also have friends and employees, all from different economic backgrounds who are single mothers.

"I am privileged to know single mothers who are hardworking, courageous and faithful to their responsibilities."

This article was first published on January 25, 2015.
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