SINGAPORE: Ahead of next week's general election in Singapore, a senior minister has said that there is space for greater female participation in politics and even in the higher levels of political office in the city-state.
"It is only a matter of time before qualified female candidates with the right experience will come to the fore," Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu said.
"Both genders now enjoy equal opportunities in schools and education based on merit and there is already a trend of greater female participation in politics," she told Today newspaper.
Fu, who is also the second minister for Foreign affairs and Environment and Water Resources, is the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) candidate in the upcoming general elections to be held on September 11.
She highlighted that there is already a trend of greater female participation in politics.
Thirty four women, including 61-year-old former speaker Halimah Yacob, are among the 181 candidates contesting in the general elections.
Fu said that she was heartened to see more female candidates coming forward to contest in the election from both the ruling PAP and the Opposition.
"The more female candidates coming forward to contest in the upcoming elections is a positive development for Singapore as a whole," she said.
She said things have changed as compared to the pre-1965 generation, when families experienced financial constraints and opportunities to get educated for women were limited.
"If you look at literacy — only 60 per cent of women (then) were educated. During my time, only 10 per cent (of women were) in the university cohort," she said.
"This has contributed to a limited pool of tertiary- educated women with the necessary work experience in senior positions and the tested ability to serve residents on the ground, resulting in a situation where women are currently under-represented in local politics," Fu said.
"(Now) almost 100 per cent of women go to school, and the pipeline (of talented candidates) is very strong. So, I think it's just a matter of time before you'll see more women being able to take up that role (of representing their constituents in Parliament)," she said.
Fu added that PAP represents a Singapore that has lots of opportunities for women. "We will do more to try to support women to have both work and family," she added.