SINGAPORE:  Achieving gender equality requires a “deep mindset change” as well as changes to Singapore’s cultural value system, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam while addressing a virtual dialogue session involving more than 100 participants from youth and women organisations on September 20.

“Every boy and girl must grow up imbibing the value of gender equality. They need to be taught from a very early age that boys and girls are to be treated equally and, very importantly, with respect,” he said.

To that end, from next month a series of engagements between the public and private sectors, as well as non-governmental organisations, will be held with the aim of identifying and tackling issues concerning women in Singapore.

These will culminate in a White Paper to be issued by the Government in the first half of next year, which will consolidate feedback and recommendations during the sessions, to be called “Conversations on Women Development”.

To be spearheaded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and supported by the Home Affairs as well as the Culture, Community and Youth ministries, it will also involve groups such as the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, the National Trades Union Congress Women Committee, the People’s Association Women Integration Network and others.

The issue of gender equality had to go beyond such matrices of performance to become something “imprinted deeply into our collective consciousness”, added Mr Shanmugam.

“Equality must not just be formal, but substantive – and take into account the unique challenges (and) needs that women face, and the specific effects that policies have on them, to truly level the playing field,” he said.