SINGAPORE -Older women are an especially vulnerable group in Singapore's ageing society, said Parliamentary Secretary (Social and Family Development) Low Yen Ling.
As women have longer lifespans than men, they need more support preparing for retirement, she said during the debate on the President's address.
Coupled with shrinking family sizes, the incidence of elderly women living alone is expected to rise.
Retirement adequacy is also likely to be an issue for stay-at-home mothers with limited savings, she added.
"We will need to create more opportunities for older women to live well in their golden years, and age with dignity and confidence," she said.
The average lifespan of a woman has risen to 84.5 years, from 77.6 years in 1990. The number of centenarians in Singapore also jumped more than sixfold between 2000 and last year - from 150 to 980. More than half of these centenarians are women.
The Government's efforts to support Singaporeans in ageing are heartening, she added.
But women continue to be under-represented in the workforce and in top management positions.
Only 4.6 per cent of chief executives in listed companies are women. The proportion of women on the boards of these companies have hovered around 8 per cent - below the 12 per cent average in industrialised markets.
This is despite the female labour participation rate rising to 77.1 per cent last year for those between 25 and 54 years old, up from 66.6 per cent in 2003.
"The expectation for a woman to be the family's primary caregiver means many working women face the lifetime challenge of balancing work and family as domestic duties still fall primarily on them," said Ms Low.
Schemes to help mothers return to work, retraining grants, and flexi-work arrangements are some ways to help women juggle family commitments and receive income at the same time, she added.
This article was first published on May 30, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.