State of the Nation’s Women report (6 Jul 2009)
AWARE Media Release 6 July 2009
AWARE launches project to publish State of the Nation’s Women report
AWARE, Singapore’s leading women’s rights advocacy group, is launching a two-year project to reach out to a wide range of women in Singapore and gather their views on the issues that most affect them. These views, together with other research findings, will be published in 2011 in a report titled The State of the Nation’s Women.
In its scope, the State of the Nation’s Women (SNW) report will be similar to the CEDAW shadow reports that AWARE produces and submits to the United Nations. CEDAW, or the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, is regarded as an international bill of rights for women. Countries that sign the convention have to submit national reports at least once every four years on the progress they have made to remove all discrimination against women. Shadow reports are submitted by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and are considered alongside the national reports by the UN’s CEDAW Committee.
Like the CEDAW report, the SNW report will examine the state of Singapore’s women in areas such as employment, health, family, leadership, and media. But a key difference is that the voices of Singapore’s women will feature prominently in the SNW report.
“Our CEDAW shadow reports have identified the inequalities that still exist and the many issues that need to be addressed, such as the lack of sexual harassment laws, stereotyping in the media, the need for more day care centres for young parents and for greater financial security for older women,” said Dana Lam, AWARE president.
“What we will now do, in parallel with our CEDAW work, is reach out to women in Singapore and get their views on all these issues. We want to get the women to talk and we will listen carefully. We want to find out what they see as the key challenges in their lives, what they would like to see by way of changed or new policies and laws. The State of the Nation’s Women report will cover largely the same ground as the CEDAW reports but it will be from the perspective of a cross-section of Singapore’s women.”
AWARE will reach these women in a variety of ways, including a forum series called ‘Stand Up and Speak Out’. There will also be talks and small group discussions, and at least one major conference. Joint projects and other forms of collaboration with the media and with other NGOs will be explored.
- The CEDAW subcommittee will continue to work on AWARE’s 3rd shadow report.
- The AWARE Training Institute (ATI) will be going full steam ahead with the following programmes to educate, enable and empower women to achieve their highest potential in society:
- ATI’s Body Image Workshops will help young girls to reflect on body image, and concepts of attractiveness and beauty, to enable them to deal with body image and self esteem issues.
- Following from AWARE’s major recent report on sexual harassment which showed that more than 50% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work, ATI is currently developing workshops to train organisations to deal with sexual harassment and assault. The sexual harassment team comprising HR practitioners, lawyers and social workers target to provide by the end of the year a comprehensive package of services to train and advise companies on policies and practices to prevent and deal with sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
- The financial training programme for women is being enhanced. The aim here is to help women with financial empowerment. Further announcements on this will be made shortly.
- Women in Conversation is an innovative approach to learning. ATI provides safe spaces for women to get together in small groups to learn from each other and to share their personal and common experiences in matters such as sex, dating, marriage, gender discrimination, career development, leadership.
- AWARE will expand its Direct Services, particularly the Helpline which now operates Mondays to Fridays from 3pm to 9.30pm. With AWARE’s increased membership and a greater pool of volunteers to take the calls, the plan is to:
- Extend the operating hours
- Handle calls in more languages
- Train the Helpline volunteers to handle a wider variety of situations. Collaborations with complementary NGOs may be explored.
AWARE is also looking into the possibility of extending its Counselling Service and the Legal Clinic.
- A recently launched project is a study by the Singles Subcommittee to identify the attitudes and public policies that affect how single women live in Singapore. The study will examine various categories of singles including ageing singles and single care-givers of the elderly or children.
AWARE TURNS 25
AWARE, which was registered on 25 November 1985, will turn 25 in November 2010. To celebrate its 25 years, AWARE will organise a Festival of Women which will showcase the talent and achievements of Singapore women. This Festival will be spread out over 2010 and 2011, with events that range from the literary and artistic to the entertaining and energetic.