According to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Singapore decreased 10 positions from last year in closing the gender gap. Singapore was ranked 65th out of 144 countries in economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and survival. Such standings indicate a need to bridge the gap and address the gender equality in Singapore.
Symbolically, the ascension of Singapore’s first female president may indicate a sign of improved broader access to politics for women; but this individual success brings Singapore only a little closer towards bridging the gender gap. The Ministry of Social and Family Development in Singapore remains committed to the protection of women’s rights and is taking steps to promote gender equality in Singapore.
5 Organizations Working on Gender Equality in Singapore
In addition to government agencies, there are also several organizations working to promote gender equality in Singapore by providing livelihood, job opportunities and fighting for women’s issues. Here are five organizations currently working towards women’s rights and protection.
Aidha is a Singapore-based NGO that helps women become financially independent. The mission of the charity is that “by helping one woman, it can help improve nine more lives.” Aidha also provides financial literacy programs, computer literacy programs and entrepreneurial skills for Singapore’s foreign domestic workers and low-income women.
The organization’s aim is to help women help themselves by launching their own businesses or helping them invest in items like livestock in their home countries to better protect them against the cycle of poverty.
Aidha’s workshops, clubs and courses help students become literate in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), manage income and boost their confidence and social capital.
Daughters Of Tomorrow (DOT) is a program which focuses on empowering underprivileged Singaporean women through confidence-building, skills development and employment channeling. Aidha is working with DOT to develop a 10-session financial literacy program for its clients and deliver the first program this year.
The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations
The Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations (SCWO) was established in 1980 as the national coordinating body of women’s organizations in Singapore. SCWO has more than 50 member organizations, represents over 500,000 women and strives to unite women in Singapore to work toward ideals of ‘Equal Space, Equal Voice and Equal Worth.’
SCWO provides free legal clinics — with the support of volunteer lawyers from Singapore Association of Women Lawyers (SAWL) — for women residing in Singapore who face legal issues on personal matters, do not have legal advice or are unable to afford a lawyer.
One of their services includes providing shelter for women. SCWO’s Star Shelter opened in March 1999 and is a registered charity with IPC Status and the only secular crisis center in Singapore. Star Shelter provides a safe, temporary refuge for women and children who are victims of family violence, regardless of race, language, creed or religion. SCWO empowers victims to manage and take responsibility for their lives and assists them in rebuilding existences free of violence.
Apart from meals and lodging, Star Shelter also provides trauma/crisis counseling and case management. Through the “Rebuild” Program, SCWO provides a one-time financial aid to assist victims in paying for transport expenses while they look for employment; in addition, the program also offers a no-interest home loan.
Aware is an organization which works to remove all gender-based barriers and encourages gender equality in Singapore. Aware works in three ways:
- Research and advocacy
- Education and training
- Support services
AWARE believes in equal opportunity for both men and women in every field. AWARE is dedicated to removing gender-based barriers and providing a feminist perspective in the national dialogue.
The organization has effectively advocated against laws, public policies and mindsets that discriminate against women. AWARE’s support services provide crisis counseling, assistance in dealing with the authorities, and legal advice to women in need. We Can! is a popular campaign which works through Change Makers – individuals who commit to taking steps in their own lives to end violence.
The campaign aims to shake up social attitudes and beliefs that tolerate violence against women. They have conducted several workshops to this end, and forum theatre to reach out to people for support. The campaign has garnered 17,000 individuals and has worked with more than 96 organizations to fight for gender equality in Singapore.
The Singapore Committee for UN Women
The Singapore Committee for UN Women is a self-funded, non-profit organization that works towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. The organization supports the general mission of UN Women by raising awareness and funding for Ending Violence Against Women, Economic Empowerment, and Governance and Leadership Programs in Singapore and the region.
These campaigns include the SNOW (Say No to the Oppression of Women) Gala and Buy to Save fundraising events. In fact, 80 percent of the funds are dedicated towards local projects like Help Anna and Girls2Pioneers, while the remaining 20 percent is channeled towards supporting regional beneficiaries. The group’s HeForShe campaign works in favor of gender equality in Singapore and has around 10,000 commitments so far.
The Singapore organization, CRIB Society (Creating Responsible and Innovative Businesses), combines social responsibility and innovative business practices to work more from the top down with female entrepreneurs and business owners. The organization uses this structure to then help create opportunities and jobs for other women.
CRIB has a group of mentors and emerging entrepreneurs who support, inspire and assist each other, and offers seminars, mentorships, a ‘matching’ program that puts together potential co-founders for new businesses and an incubator program.
These five organizations help encourage gender equality in Singapore and provide support for women in every field including education, employment, shelter and housing. The future is limitless for where these empowered women will go next.
– Preethi Ravi