Asian economies should tap women as engine of growth: Halimah
The time that women in Asia-Pacific spend on housework daily could count for at least US$10.8 trillion (S$14.5 trillion) of the global economy annually, making them a powerful engine of growth that economies should tap in their post-pandemic recovery, said President Halimah Yacob.
In her speech yesterday at the virtual Women's Forum Global Meeting 2020, she noted: "Asian economies are sitting on a powerful and underutilised engine of growth. Advancing gender equality in Asia-Pacific could mean an extra US$4.5 trillion or 12 per cent of the collective annual GDP... This could also bring in an additional $26 billion to Singapore's annual GDP over the next 10 years.
"Promoting women empowerment is therefore not just an ideal of fairness, but also one that makes economic sense."
She added: "In Asia-Pacific, women spend four to 11 times more time on housework than men do daily. According to the UN Women Asia and the Pacific, such work could count for at least US$10.8 trillion a year of the global economy. However, the effort spent on this work is often unrecognised and undervalued."
Madam Halimah, in her speech at a plenary session titled Governing the she-covery: Designing a better post-pandemic economy, highlighted three areas Singapore is focusing on for its economic recovery, and the critical role women can play in the process.
First, the country plans to accelerate its economic transformation and step up the use of digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence.
"In order to reap the full rewards of technological advancement, we must continue to strengthen women's participation in leadership, and in the implementation of such strategies," she said.
Second, Singapore aims to help those in ailing industries transition to other sectors by upgrading and learning new skills.
"By encouraging our workers to reskill and upskill, our companies can continue to stay relevant and competitive. And in so doing, it also offers us an opportunity to level the playing field between men and women in the workplace," she said.
Third, Singapore has to strengthen its partnerships and diversity, such as by having more cooperation between the private and public sectors and across different talent pools.