Ever since the early year of 1959. That is how long we have campaigned for women’s rights, with pioneers like Member of Parliament Chan Choi Siong successfully lobbying for the Women’s Charter which makes both sexes equal before the law.
Other women activists rose in her wake; like 1990-1995 Minister of State for Education Aline Wong who introduced sex education to the national curriculum and chaired the Women’s Wing (WW) from its 1989 founding for over a decade.
The work to empower women never ends, though, and so our current generation of women activists still pushes for policies and support towards this cause. Here are some examples:
Low Yen Ling: Supporting women entrepreneurs
“Around one in eight companies in Singapore now have female CEOs, the highest proportion globally,” posted Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling earlier this week (Jul 27).
This was at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Awards, which honours Singaporean women who persevere and innovate to become success stories in business. This is no matter the field; whether real estate, media, F&B or even woodworking, Singapore’s women shine there.
Source: Low Yen Ling / Facebook
“This is a good start, but there is much more we can do,” added MOS Low, who is also a WW Vice-Chairwoman.
Indeed, Vice-Chairwoman Low is a longtime supporter of female entrepreneurship, helping draw attention to local female-led startups like Hegen (they of square-shaped baby bottle fame).
She also helped launch the Singapore Business Federation Women’s Entrepreneurship Network two Novembers ago, sharing how Enterprise Singapore and its various agencies and initiatives can support them in Singapore’s startup ecosystem.
Indranee Rajah: For Singapore’s families
For WW Executive Committee Resource Panellist (and Second Minister for Finance and National Development) Indranee Rajah, families are the building block of our society, and we remember her joy when announcing the birth of 2023’s first babies.
Minister Indranee also co-leads the Care Pillar of Forward Singapore. Here, she has engaged hundreds of Singaporeans in conversations and surveyed an additional 5000 in order to find out the most pressing concerns of Singaporean families today — the cost of raising children, childcare needs, the holistic development of children, challenges in balancing work and family commitments.
These engagements helped guide initiatives like the enhanced Baby Bonus Cash Gift, which means an extra $3000 for dads and mums to raise babies born from October 2022 onwards.
She additionally partners with stakeholders across the board — employers, employees, unions, non-profits and the community — to develop a Singapore Made For Families.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. In our Singapore context today, who is that village?” Minister Indranee posted last July.
Source: Indranee Rajah / Facebook
“It includes fathers, the grandparents, extended family, friends, neighbours, employers and work colleagues,” she added, pointing out that childrearing should not fall on moms alone.
“Together we are the kampung.”
Sim Ann: Tackling online harm against women and girls
Meanwhile, WW Chairwoman Sim Ann, in addition to overseeing the WW raising over $630,000 for needy mothers this past Mother’s Day (May 12), co-chairs the SG Together Sunlight Alliance for Action which tackles online harm against women and girls.
Within a year of its July 2021 launch, Sunlight had polled 1,000 Singaporeans to ascertain the impact of online harms in Singapore and areas for future research, held two webinars for students and parents about online safety and established the SG Her Empowerment (SHE) charity which supports online harm victims.
“Wicked problems are impossible to tackle alone, but with support from partners and allies we stand a fighting chance,” posted Chairwoman Sim, when the SHE charity signed agreements with organisations such as the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), which share SHE’s vision in setting up Singapore’s first physical one-stop support centre for victims of online harms.
Source: Sim Ann / Facebook
“I look forward to more partners and supporters coming on board this important mission,” added Chairwoman Sim.
Indeed, these ideas of partnership and support mentioned throughout this article are central to the WW Annual Conference happening this weekend — the Conference theme is “Support for SG Families”, with all the society and community buy-ins this entails.
That is because when together we establish the necessary support and opportunities for women to realise their fullest potential, it is no zero-sum game. Rather, life just gets so much better for all Singaporeans.