Letter of the week: Good time to review issues men face too

Office workers near Raffles Place on June 3, 2020.
Office workers near Raffles Place on June 3, 2020.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

I applaud Singapore's effort to gather suggestions and formulate a White Paper on issues concerning women development in the country (Review of women's issues to change mindsets on equality, Sept 21).

Cultural, social and structural issues will be examined to bring about a change in mindset on the way women are treated within the marital, workplace and societal contexts.

But the scope of the exercise could have been extended to cover issues faced by men as well.

As society progresses and evolves, family dynamics and gender roles change too. Some assumptions on gender roles no longer hold true in our society today.

In the past, men used to be the sole breadwinner while women took care of the children and household chores.

Now, in many families without children, men and women have equal employment opportunities. And in families with children, both the father and the mother can tap on help from their own parents or their domestic helpers to mind the young.

Hence most women do not necessarily face a difficult choice between family and career.

But changing societal dynamics such as greater female representation in the workforce and reduced dependence on men have affected the role of men.

Issues such as spousal abuse, family violence and crime affect men as much as they do women. Men can suffer psychological abuse and physical violence at the hands of their spouses.

Helplines exist for men facing domestic violence (Help at hand for men who are stressed out amid pandemic, May 16).

Men could also fall prey to sexual harassment (Number of male victims of molestation on the rise, Dec 18, 2017).

Consider that the late US Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was an advocate for women's rights and also notable for speaking against gender discrimination, had successfully appealed for an unmarried male caregiver to be awarded the same tax deduction as an unmarried woman.

The status of women deserves protection in society, hence the need for legal tools like the Women's Charter.

But the narrow subject matter of Singapore's review may be criticised as gender bias by some.

By widening it to include men, it would be even more comprehensive in addressing the issues faced by all members of society.

Timothy Toh Hong Ern