Singapore celebrates mothers day with a piece of good news. We are the best country in Asia to be a mother…yet again.
We came out top in the region in an annual index released by international aid agency Save the Children well ahead of South Korea and Japan.
The top 10 countries in Asia are
1. Singapore (14th Worldwide )
2. South Korea (30th)
3. Japan (33rd)
4. Saudi Arabia(38th)
5. United Arab Emirates (47th)
6. Bahrain (49th)
7. Kazakhstan (58th)
8. Kuwait (60th)
9. China (61th)
10. Oman (63th)
…The next highest ranking Asean country is Malaysia, which comes in at the 12th spot in Asia (71th Worldwide).
Why aren’t we in the top 10 Worldwide?
We did well in 3 of the 5 rating categories namely Children’s well being, Education status and Economic status. But our ranking was pulled down by weaker performance in the educational and political arenas when we have a shorter years of formal schooling and fewer seats in government held by women.
What else can we do for Mums?
Although the government’s stance and future policies will greatly impact how Singapore will rank in future reports such as this, the society at large as well as businesses can, too, do their part to make motherhood an easier journey for the women amongst us. In its third Happiness Poll conducted last December to check on the state of happiness
and well-being of families in Singapore, the Labour Movement of Singapore NTUC, found that 9 in 10 pregnant women intended to return to work after maternity leave. Results for the NTUC’s Happiness Poll conducted last December were released in March 2015; the poll saw a total of 4,700 respondents – 189 of whom were pregnant.
The Labour Movement has been pushing for more to be done to attract women into the workforce, especially women who have left the workforce to take care of their young children, and also for women who are currently working to continue to stay in employment after pregnancy. This will also help the companies to retain valuable talent.
NTUC U Family has been calling for more workplace flexibility for expectant mothers as well as working mothers. In particular, NTUC is encouraging companies to adopt flexible work arrangements (FWD) so that working mothers can manage their time between work and family more effectively, as well as to support expectant mothers with
time-off for their prenatal visits.
Generally, an expectant woman makes between 10 and 15 antenatal visits of one to two hours each during her entire pregnancy. There are often instances when she may have to go for a check-up during working hours, thus, NTUC U Family hopes that employers can consider supporting these expectant employees by offering time-off so that they can go for prenatal checks.
There are many challenges that expectant as well as working mothers face in Singapore, and all quarters can help play a part. The Labour Movement should continue to work with its tripatite partners, i.e. the government and the employers, to effect more wide-ranging policies and workplace practices. Businesses should also be more progressive and adopt more flexibility to retain mothers in the workforce. For a start, they can consider tapping onto NTUC’s $500,000 U Flex grant to help launch initiatives to make the workplace more family-friendly. As individuals, we too can start changing our mindset to be more understanding with our pregnant colleagues and workmates who are working mothers.