It’s about time! Equal maternity leave for unwed SG mums

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Babies do not choose the circumstances under which they are born. Singapore has ensured that the marital status of the parents would not affect the mum-baby bonding time in the early days.

2016 has been a confusing year. It has become difficult to see if the human race is progressing or going back in time. Taiwan is opening up to legitimising same-sex marriages. On the other hand, the Trump victory based on hate and paranoia attests to the latter. Singapore, however, has taken a step that is both prudent and progressive.

In April 2016, the Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin announced an amendment to the current rules governing the maternity leave. It will benefit mums-to-be who are not married by extending the maternity leave to a full 16 weeks of paid leave, like their married counterparts. This should take effect sometime in early 2017.

Earlier, this was limited to 8 weeks of paid leave and 4 weeks of leave without pay. This meant a tremendous physical as well as emotional strain on the mother. The early weeks are very important for the development of the child. Asking the mother to go back to work just because she is not married is a regressive thing to do at the very least.

The amendment in the law now ensures that the baby will not lose out on the vital presence of the mother, just because of her marital status. Not only this, the baby will also be entitled to the Child Development Account. The government matched the savings in the CDA account dollar for a dollar, up to a certain extent. This can be used for health and education of the child.

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This is a progressive step towards accepting the changing dynamics of relationships, not to mention a more broadened outlook towards the world as a whole. I understand that a few (or many) of the readers would think that this might disturb the cultural fabric of the nation, but to answer you, think of the role of the child in his/her own birth.

Why this makes me happy as a married dad

As the report goes, the number of women who give birth to children out of wedlock here is not much. And yet, when all the MPs stand for this cause, it assures me that Singapore has successfully resisted regressive myopia. When the world is in chaos regarding religion, race, nationality, Singapore chooses to take a progressive step.

Read on to know why it is relevant to all of us

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