Friday, March 09, 2007


Sharing an article from at . written by Tabitha Whang . ( no not by me ! but my sentiments exactly !



Friday March 9, 2007

They stay at home for the family, not to watch daytime soaps

I WAS in Shenton Way doing some banking errands for my husband when I overheard the conversation of two well-dressed women. They were talking about the Budget Debate calling for more privileges for housewives."These women should go to work instead of asking for handouts," one said. She disappeared into a lift - presumably to go make her valuablec ontribution to the economy - before I could correct her.The sad thing is, I think she's just voicing the thoughts of many otherwage earners, who believe that housewives are no better than streetbeggars, preferring bumming to doing something worthwhile with theirlives.

I wonder if any of them have bothered to find out why these women choose to drop out of the rat race.Regular readers know that I quit my job because, after losing two babies for various reasons including work stress, I am taking a break to relax and start a family. Since then, I've met many other housewives and found that while one or two have quit for "selfish" reasons - such as wanting to have time for themselves - almost all say they're doing it for the kids.The main problem is the lack of family support.

More Singaporean elderly couples now prefer to live alone than with their children, which means an end to free babysitting of the grandchildren. Even women with extended families are finding it tough. A woman I met at a party told me: "My husband said we should live with his parents so theycould look after the kids. But when I became pregnant, my mum-in-law told me she wasn't going to waste her retirement years babysitting."Maids are an option but some women have had such bad experiences with them that they decide to look after their kids themselves.

Being a housewife is not a soft option. The women I spoke to knew that quitting their jobs meant downgrading their lifestyles, but they were willing to pay the price. They're not asking for charity, just help and respect while they bring up Singapore's next generation. And housewives do contribute to the economy indirectly.

Britain's Institute for Social and Economic Research did a study in 2005 on theeffect of marriage on the salaries of 3,500 men. It concluded that amarried man whose wife stays at home earns about 4 per cent more than asingle man. This advantage disappears if the wife also works 40 hours perweek. The survey authors, Dr Elena Bardasi and Dr Mark Taylor, suggest two reasons:- Marriage may allow a husband and wife to focus on tasks to which they are most suited. Traditionally, this means the man can concentrate on paid work, enabling him to increase productivity and, as a result, his wages.

Marriage may increase the amount of time a man has to hone work-related skills, which could lead to better pay. Looks like the men benefit from marriage, as do their employers and Singapore's economy as a whole.But what about the women who sacrificed part of their lives to make this possible? They're relegated to a spot somewhere between the unemployed and the blue-collar workers, I guess.

Some days ago, I wrote a cheque to the Central Provident Fund Board to top up my account. An officer called back the next day: "Is this for yourEmployee account?""No, I'm not an employee any more.""So you're self-employed?""Not really ..." Silence."I'm not sure where this money will go."

Thankfully, I get a small income from my freelance work, which I'm paying taxes for, so we settled on calling me self-employed. According to the form I later filled to change my account, I'm now listed among the hawkers and taxi-drivers.But at least I fit into a category. Where do housewives with no income fit in?They work more than 14 hours a day, perhaps more if they have babies waking up through the night. They're on duty all day.

If they were salaried workers, we'd be up in arms, fighting for better wages andworking hours for them.So, surely we can't resent them getting their long-overdue day inParliament now?

Tabitha Wang is keeping her CPF account topped up just in case her husbandruns off with some dolly bird and leaves her with nothing for retirement.

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mamaluke said...

Quite right Maisy, staying at home is NOT a soft option, I've taken a conscious decision to want to play a big part in my family's life and its HARD WORK! but soooooo worth it. Being a mother is one of the highest callings God can call me to. We have debates going on in the UK about the amount of support women get to go back to work, I wish they would be more supported to stay at home!!! In the long run our children will be better off with a stable home environment and consistent caregivers. Anyway, I could go on... but I'll stop there ;)

Gillian Hamilton said...

Very Good Read Pearl... you are very gifted in your writting..
I am ever so thankful for the gift of being able to be at home for my children and husband.. and am sorry for the poor mums who want to but can't..

Paula said...

Seems this debate rages world wide.
If your male you get paid more than a female doing the same job, why? well because you are considered more worthwhile in the universe. Hell, a woman might only want to stay home & raise kids a while, not worth promoting, paying higher etc.
If your female & single you can't afford to even think about having a baby & staying home.Go know, we are expected to pay taxes the same as everyone else, & half the bills are certainly no lower.
We get a token discount for the Council Tax, which frankly is an insult.
Yet our prime minister doesn't consider us a worthwhile investment to this country. No, only married couples are good for the economy, he deliverd in one speech.
so begs the question, why do I bother living at all!!