We throw some light on the recent policy changes that impact single parents in Singapore, who have often been unfairly discriminated against. Read on to find out what single parents and AWARE have to say about the current situation.
Do single parents in Singapore have social support?
We all know being the primary caretaker of your children can be challenging. Imagine if you’re the only caretaker of your children.
In Singapore, single parents are “equal” in that they’re expected to pay their dues as citizens. They pay taxes like everyone else and if they have sons, their boys are expected to serve out their tenure of National Service when they come of age.
Yet, they’re sorely disadvantaged because neither are they given subsidies nor priority when they wish to purchase their own public housing. They’re not allowed to avail of the baby bonus that the government has been handing out since 2009. Even their paid maternity leave is much shorter – by two whole months – than that allocated to their married counterparts.
The political divide
During General Elections 2015, we realised that the issue about single mothers has become a sticking point for candidates and their constituents alike. The general consensus has been that government policies for single mothers need to be reviewed to make it fairer for them who ironically, more than married mothers, need these benefits.
Jolene Tan, spokesperson for Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) says, “We don’t see any reason why the children of single mothers should be penalised. These are just women who are trying to raise children. There really is no good reason to make their lives any worse.” She adds that such policies “send a real signal to them that they don’t belong in society” and this is essentially “a divisive stance”.
It appears, however, that a silver lining has appeared in recent months. In March, Mr Chan Chun Sing, himself a child from a single-parent family, first gave us a hint that we could be seeing adjustments in single parent policies in parliament.
Subsequently, in late July, recently appointed Social and Family Minister, Mr Tan Chuan Jin ascertained that there will be concrete changes in the single parent policy by 2016.
Read about the stories and perspectives of some single parents in Singapore in the next page.