updated 24 May 2011, 14:11
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Fri, May 20, 2011
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Ex-NMP's grouse: No new full woman minister
by Lei Jiahui

FORMER Nominated Member of Parliament Braema Mathi yesterday expressed her disappointment that no full woman minister was appointed to replace Mrs Lim Hwee Hua in the new Singapore Cabinet.

Mrs Lim, a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, was one of the People's Action Party candidates in Aljunied GRC who lost their seats in this year's General Election.

Referring to the appointment of newly elected members of Parliament (MPs) to ministerial positions, Ms Mathi said that there is a "risk element" when a new person is given a ministerial position immediately.

"Can't that same risk also be given to women candidates or women who have already been given responsibilities?" she asked.

Ms Mathi, the honorary director for research and advocacy at the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), was speaking to reporters at a press conference held yesterday at the Aware Centre in Dover. At the conference, she presented Aware's shadow report for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw).

The Aware report called for the Government to bring more women into politics and to promote capable MPs to ministers, among other recommendations.

The shadow report, which puts forth Aware's recommendations to the Government on the rights of women in Singapore, will be submitted to the United Nations ahead of a Cedaw forum that is to be held in July.

Singapore ratified Cedaw in 1995, but placed reservations on some of the articles in the convention, such as a provision to ensure equality in all fields of employment, because it did not want women to be employed in "hazardous occupations", such as those in the military.

Ms Mathi, who chairs the Cedaw committee of Aware, pointed out that both men and women should be protected in the workplace.

"We should improve our protection mechanism, to protect all workers, men and women," she said.

But the women's-rights group acknowledged that the Singapore Government has made conditions better for women over the years.

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