SCWO Events,  SCWO Members

Pre-Budget Dialogue 2024 with Minister Indranee Rajah

SCWO had the pleasure of hosting our member organisations at its annual Pre-Budget Dialogue on 24 January 2024, with Guest-of-Honour Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development. 

SCWO President Ms Junie Foo welcomed participants with topics of discussion they could expect during the dialogue, which includes a focus on select chapters of the recently released ForwardSG report such as Respecting & Rewarding Every Job, Supporting Families through Every Stage, Enabling Seniors to Age Well, and Empowering Those in Need. This was followed by a presentation on the key initiatives of Budget 2024 by Mr Timothy Tan, Senior Associate for Social Programmes at the Ministry of Finance. 

The dialogue was kicked off by the moderator of the evening – SCWO’s 1st Vice President, Ms Noorfarahin Ahmad. A topic of concern that came up early in the conversation was the impact of the caregiving role imposed on women for not only their children, but their ageing family members as well.  

A large portion of the untapped talent pool consists of these women, who are also having trouble re-entering the workforce due to their inability to meet the commitment requirements of companies today. These women may have experience in Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMET) positions prior to leaving the workforce, but still have trouble with finding appropriate roles to accommodate their needs as primary caregivers of their families. This would also impact their savings needed to retire comfortably. 

A recommendation from the floor to tackle this issue is to introduce ad-hoc working arrangements or job positions in the healthcare sector to provide women the opportunity to specialise and contribute on a specific skillset or role, such as administering vaccinations. 

This also tied into the concerns brought up by participants on the disparity in women’s participation in high-paying jobs. There was an inquiry into whether a concerted effort is in the works to determine what kind of roles in the workplace are high-paying, and how gender parity is ensured for such jobs, such as positions in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) industry.  

It was noted that the lack of women in STEM was not necessarily a lack of teaching in schools, but that the real problem is that they do not choose to pursue the discipline when they eventually enter the workforce. There is work being done to investigate this matter, but a possible reason could be contributed by the perception of STEM jobs by women which in turn could be caused by the way the industry is being marketed. It was concluded that there is a pressing need to determine what disincentivises women from entering the STEM industry. 

A diverse range of other topics and recommendations that were brought up during the dialogue included looking through the gendered lens on how to cope with the effects of potential job displacement or replacement by generative artificial intelligence, supporting women labour participation in the healthcare sector, introducing caregiving skills as a course in the SkillsFuture programme, and providing support for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. 

It was a successful and highly engaging dialogue and for that, we would like to show our gratitude to our passionate and dedicated member organisations whose input and thought-provoking feedback we always greatly value and appreciate. We look forward to providing more women leaders with platforms to engage in active conversation directly with the Government to improve the community, their organisations, and their beneficiaries. 


DPM Lawrence Wong delivered the Budget speech on 16 February 2024 where he outlined how the Government is taking steps to build our shared future together. This includes tackling immediate challenges for households and businesses, pursuing better growth and jobs, equipping our workers for life, creating more paths for equality and mobility, providing more assurance for families and seniors and forging a stronger and more united nation. For more details, visit 

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