Gender equality group AWARE has submitted its seventh annual set of recommendations for the National Budget through the public consultation portal REACH on 13 January.
“The Budget will be announced on 20 February, the World Day of Social Justice,” said Jolene Tan, Head of Advocacy and Research at AWARE. “We hope the government commemorates the day with a stronger collective commitment to the dignity of older people.”
“This particularly helps women: first, women tend to face more financial insecurity in old age; second, when older people’s needs go unmet, women in the family make disproportionate sacrifices to ensure their care.”
This year’s recommendations urged the state to consider the needs of two groups who will be most affected by Singapore’s ageing population:
- Older people (aged 65 and above), most of whom are women and many of whom lack resources to meet their own care needs. AWARE recommends:
- Expanding the availability and quantum of Silver Support, including by removing the different bands for HDB flats of different sizes,
- Making healthcare in old age more affordable: exploring the possibility of adapting the Pioneer Generation Package for all generations
- Reforming Eldershield, including by removing the 72-month limit so that payouts are for life, and removing the gender difference in premiums
- The next cohorts of women (aged 25-64) on track to becoming elderly persons, particularly those who, due to caregiving responsibilities, cannot participate in the workforce to accumulate private resources for their care needs in old age. AWARE recommends:
- Supporting home-based care by family caregivers,
- Making formal childcare facilities more accessible to all mothers, including by relaxing and (for households with the lowest incomes) removing the employment preconditions for childcare subsidies,
- Supporting all working adults in caregiving, regardless of gender, including by introducing eldercare leave and increasing the gender neutrality of parental leave .
“We must face demographic realities. With a shrinking number of children within each family, we can nevertheless sustain social support if we look at the tax base as a whole, including the growing proportion of the working population who are migrants,” said Jolene Tan. “This is fairer and more realistic than relying primarily on private transfers of wealth within families to meet care needs.”
This article was first published on AWARE’s website.
And recommendations that AWARE have made for the national Budget in recent years could be found on its website: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013
AWARE is Singapore’s leading women’s rights and gender equality advocacy group. AWARE embrace diversity, and promote understanding and acceptance of diversity, respect the individual and the choices she makes in life, and support her when needed, and recognise the human rights of all, regardless of gender, so that everyone can realise their aspirations.