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*StarDust* 2nd July 2010 08:26 AM

Parental instead of maternity
 
Parental instead of maternity
By Rachel Chang


http://www.straitstimes.com/STI/STIM...01/bala.st.jpg
Dr Balakrishnan, who said he was open to such an idea, cited it as an example of a way to equalise the relationship between men and women when it came to child-rearing. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

CONVERTING maternity leave to parental leave, which would allow either parent to take paid time off to care for a newborn baby, would 'possibly be a step in the right direction', Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said at a dialogue on Wednesday.

The Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister added that such a move would 'send a very strong signal that we are working towards a more equal future' of shared parental responsibility.

Dr Balakrishnan, who said he was open to such an idea, cited it as an example of a way to equalise the relationship between men and women when it came to child-rearing. But he was quick to add that the Government would not act before society was ready. This would require social attitudes to evolve and change, and employers to be on board as well.

He made the point when speaking at a dialogue with some 150 women unionists organised by the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) Women's Development Secretariat. He was responding to NTUC deputy secretary-general Halimah Yacob, who asked him about policy changes that could be considered to get fathers more involved in child-rearing.

Dr Balakrishnan was also asked for his take on the kind of assistance that women could receive to take care of their elderly parents. Nurse Santhi P.A, 42, suggested having more daycare centres for the elderly in housing estates.

Dr Balakrishnan agreed that the need was urgent, but noted the 'Not in my void deck' syndrome on the part of some residents. 'Every time I try to build a childcare centre, or a daycare centre, or a rehab centre, or a kindergarten, or a social service centre... believe me, I lose votes,' he said. 'We need to get people to understand that we need to prepare for a society where these services are accessible,' he added.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking...ry_548385.html


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