2016 seems to have gone by in a flash! The new board was elected in June 2016 and we have been working hard at engaging our member organizations, advocacy and looking into new initiatives.
As we enter a new year, it is timely to reflect on the accomplishments and events of the previous year and also share the plans for 2017.
In terms of membership, we are now 59 members strong with the latest, Daughters of Tomorrow and Woolf Works joining us last year.
In September, SCWO, together with the Garden of Hope Foundation, Taiwan organised The Asian Network of Women’s Shelters (ANWS) Conference – a 2-day conference which brought together over 50 shelter leaders, family violence professionals and community partners from 27 organisations and 11 countries. I am pleased to say we met the objective of providing a platform for shelter leaders and family violence professionals from Singapore and around Asia to learn from experienced speakers and practitioners, share best practices, discuss challenges, strategies, solutions, plans and build partnerships.
Also in the same month, we held the President’s Forum, a bi-yearly gathering for presidents of our members, where Mr Eric Chin, Director of the National Archives of Singapore discussed about good record keeping and information management practices for organisations. Our members also had the opportunity to share their ongoing and planned activities over the lunch session.
In October, I represented SCWO at the ASEAN Committee of Women in Singapore. At this ministerial meeting, the ACW Work Plan 2016-2020 which aims to advance women’s rights and gender equality in ASEAN through regional cooperation, was finalized.
From 31 Oct & 1 November 2016, SCWO attended the 17th ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organizations (ACWO) Biennial Assembly And Conference in Bangkok. At the meeting, ACWO Member States shared their presentations of Strategic Planning towards Achieving 2030 UN SDGs. It was very inspiring to work together with our ASEAN sisters in understanding these goals and finding and formulating a common platform to better the lives of the vulnerable and under-privileged in our countries.
The early Christmas Bazaar on 19 November was a real success. Our members, were invited to participate, and The Italian Women’s Group, Soroptimist International and The Singapore Association of Women Lawyers joined in the festivities. We were also very happy to have the Great Women (our ASEAN women’s group affiliate) join us. It was an opportunity for them to raise funds for their own causes.
In December, we attended the Seventh Working Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG), 12-15 December 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York, represented by Vice Presidents, Ms Ho Shiong Yee (1st VP) and Ms Hazlina Amran-Halim (2nd VP). The OEWG was established by the General Assembly by resolution 65/182 on 21 December 2010 for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older people. The working group will continue to consider the existing international framework of human rights of older persons and identify possible gaps and how best to address them. At the session, SCWO highlighted the importance of bearing in mind the needs of older women. Click here to view full statement.
As one of 2017’s initiatives, SCWO will work with our members and identify some of the current issues concerning Older Women within our community, collaborate on areas of interest and engage the government in improving the lives of vulnerable elderly women.
Looking forward into the coming months, we will be gathering with our members at the Presidents’ Forum once again for a time of sharing over Lo Hei and lunch in February. We will be celebrating the 4th SWHF Induction and International Women’s Day with a Gala Dinner on 24th March. More outstanding and trailblazing women will be inducted into our Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame so come support us and be part of this exciting evening.
In the research and advocacy area, we are currently working on the Shadow Report for CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) and this is the first time we are drafting the report jointly with our members (AWARE, WINGS, Primetime, PPIS, SAWL, AWDS, FBPWA, TSAO Foundation) as well as other VWOs (MARUAH, TWC2 and Project X) and that final report is expected to be ready for YOUR review by mid-2017. The submission to the UN is due in late 2017. For more information on CEDAW, click here .
For our members, it has been a while since we conducted our last member survey (in 2013), so this is something we are planning to do this year. The aim of it is to learn from our members how to enhance their benefits from being members of SCWO, to understand the level of awareness about available services and facilities & the extent to which they use them, and above all, to learn what else they would like to see SCWO do.
We are also going to launch “Member Spotlight” to highlight the great work carried out by our diverse members which will featured on SCWO’s website, as well as in our newsletter and social media.
2016 was a fruitful year and a significant one for women. There is Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor; Aung San Suu Kyi; Theresa May, newly elected as Prime Minister of United Kingdom; Hilary Clinton, who was close to becoming the first Woman president of the United States. However, these huge strides must not take away the focus from the plight of the vulnerable, abused and underprivileged women which sadly is still highly prevalent here and all over the world.
With this, I look forward working more closely with you and our members in 2017.
Here’s wishing all a fruitful and fulfilling New Year!
Dr June Goh