With 2019 coming to an end, it is a great time to take stock of the year that has so quickly passed us by. 2019 was a wonderfully fulfilling year for SCWO with much achieved and many opportunities to connect and work with our members and partners.
In March this year at our annual International Women’s Day Gala Dinner and 6th SWHF Induction Ceremony, we launched the Seeds of Change fund, a new fund to support our women’s organisations pilot or scale up women’s development programmes. The funding themes for the first cycle was projects that impact women’s employment, to encourage training and career development as well as those that advocate or address health matters impacting women. SCWO with the help of partners NTUC Women and Family Unit and PA Women Integration Network Council will also provide guidance. We are optimistic that this fund it will bring about value-added partnerships and encourage more organisations to pilot women’s development programmes that will be meaningful to the lives of women. The first application round received strong interest from our member organisations, and we will be announcing the awardees soon.
We have also been organising the SCWO Insights Series which brings together women political leaders and women organisations from different sectors to share their perspectives and discuss issues of concern to women. This year, we organised 3 sessions where we had Senior Minister Indranee Rajah on the topic of the national budget, Minister Josephine Teo on women and employment, and most recently, we had Senior Minister of State Sim Ann. Our large membership base allows us to get a balanced and well-thought feedback thus providing women’s perspective on national policies. We are appreciative for your support, and in 2020, we hope to continue to facilitate greater conversations on important issues.
Furthermore, SCWO and the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Office of Women’s Development have been engaging and inviting our member organisations to join Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development for tea time chats. At this smaller and more intimate setting, we are able to listen more closely to what our members are doing and the challenges they face. We hope that these chats can facilitate collaboration between members to promote the advancement of women in Singapore.
In 2019, we took over the ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organisations (ACWO) presidency and will be running it till the end of 2020. We had our 1st ACWO 19th Board of Directors meeting at SCWO on 22nd March 2019 and the ACWO board members also attended the IWD Gala Dinner on 23rd March. In October, I had the opportunity to represent ACWO and participate at the Open Sessions of the 18th ASEAN Committee of Women Meeting (Brunei), presenting ACWO vision 2025 which aims to bring the advantages of smart technologies to women, to enhance the quality of women’s lives in ageing and to empower women in the economy. With our ACWO presidency, we hope that with our ASEAN neighbours, we can learn from each other’s experiences as to how best to further the cause of gender equality at the national level for women in the region. Although there will always be differences amongst the ASEAN nations, we will find a common ground and platform to rectify the imbalance and catalyse meaningful changes in similar issues faced by women in this region.
In November we launched the second installment of the three-part exhibition of ‘The Lives of Women’ by the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame. This exhibition held in the National Museum, looks at how women have progressed in Singapore since independence, examining key facts and figures to trace the progress, or the lack of it, made by women in education, work, public life, and in society generally. Please visit this wonderfully informative exhibition which will run from 2 November 2019 till 19 January 2020. Bring your families too!
Also in November, the Women’s Register organised the WR-NUS-SP JAIN Debate Championships. This is the second year in a row that we worked with the NUS debate club to organise the Debate Championships. The debate tournament provides a platform for youth to start conversations on women’s issues, relating to ‘Marriage and Family Life’, ‘Workplace and Employment’ and ‘Violence Against Women’.
We rounded the year off with In Her Stride: Together We are Stronger at the end of November. In support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we focused on community engagement to further our efforts in ending family violence by driving the involvement of the community and women leaders towards the cause. To this end, we partnered with AkzoNobel and the Nanyang Academy of the Fine Arts (NAFA) to recreate and repaint the iconic SCWO mural. This redesign of the mural represents the community coming together to symbolically recommit to eliminate violence against women in Singapore. As part of the education segment of the event, we also invited one of our members, the Society Against Family Violence, to conduct workshops on how to identify family violence and provide first-hand support to survivors to educate community partners. Our GOH Ms Sun Xueling spoke about how laws and policies can help but it is imperative that we continue to engage the community itself on discourse regarding violence against women.
All in all, it’s been a good year working closely with our members and continuing the discourse on issues that we hold dear to our hearts.
In 2020, SCWO celebrates our ruby anniversary – it’s been 40 years of empowering women and we are only looking forward to more to come!
Here’s to a rewarding and exciting new year!
Dr June Goh