The Association of Women for Action & Research (AWARE) has issued its annual set of recommendations for the national Budget through the public consultation portal REACH on 29 January, urging the government to develop a care-giving infrastructure that provides adequate care of the elderly, children and disabled people, rather than expect women to provide care by leaving the workforce.
” We are glad that some positive steps have been taken over the years to foster greater inclusivity,” the group said in a statement. “However, certain gaps persist, which impact women specifically and negatively affect other family members. To build a genuinely inclusive society, these gaps must be addressed.”
Citing figures from the Manpower Ministry, AWARE noted that women constituted 65% of those outside the labour force, numbering some 690,000 persons, and 45% of these women (about 312,000 persons) reported that they had dropped out of the formal workforce because of family responsibilities, including care-giving.
“In a population where the dependency ratio is rising, caregiving should not be left as a problem of individual
families, with women solving this problem by leaving paid employment, thereby becoming dependents themselves and putting themselves at risk of financial adequacy, with insufficient funds for their own for health care or old age.”
AWARE proposed that the government develops a “caregiving infrastructure that provides adequate care of
the elderly, children and persons with disabilities as a public good that is available to all in need.”
The group recommended four measure that the state can undertake:
- Provide sufficient financial support for elderly persons to access long-term care;
- Make childcare publicly funded and available to all children;
- Increase and streamline subsidies for persons with disabilities so that no disabled person falls through the cracks of partial and inadequate subsidies; and
- Apply means testing only to the individual applicant, not the household.
AWARE also noted that in order to effect these measures, the government needs to coordinate across agencies and Ministries; hold rigorous public debate to provide honest feedback about impacts on the ground; and impose transparency of motives for adopting certain approaches.
The group proposed 15 recommendations that it believed would cover aid for the elderly, children, the disabled and households.