September 10th, 2012

Words from Winifred

Dear friends and supporters of AWARE,
What drew me to AWARE in 2001 continued to inspire me in my first 100 days.

  • Smart women who are able and willing to work together to create a future Singapore with true gender equality by removing gender-based barriers.
  • Women with busy lives at work and at home who willingly volunteer their time and talents because they believe more can be done to improve the lives of ALL women.
  • Women with common sense who work in teams to produce concrete, achievable ends in the short term, whilecontinuously striving toachieve aspirational goals in the long term.

An AWARE woman – be it a member, staff or Board – is a feminist role model living out her purpose in everyday situations in Singapore. I am humbled and privileged to lead women who want to make a difference today for a more gender-equal society tomorrow.

With the breadth, depth and complexity of gender issues that AWARE is concerned with, it would have been very easy to step on the accelerator. Too much activity can lead to volunteer burnout and lack of focus. We needed to find the right balance between people, projects, processes, and partners to create the maximum impact.

One of the first things we did as a Board was to build a strong sense of teamwork and agree to a standard of Board Excellence that we believe in. This includes a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities, and established team norms for accountability, meeting management, decision-making, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

Secondly, we clarified what our Strategic Priorities are, and developed a framework where everything we do at AWARE is mapped to a Strategic Priority. We want to see the forest AND the trees!

These Strategic Priorities are:

  • Advocating to the State
  • Catalyzing diverse members of society as engaged stakeholders
  • Proposing solutions for an inclusive economy

We will continue our consultation process on AWARE’s Strategic Plan and on the changes that we need to make to our processes in order to implement the Strategic Plan.

Thirdly, we’ve enhanced our outreach activities as a means to stay connected with the community and to influence key decision-makers, and members of the public.

So far this year, we’ve organized eight Roundtable Discussions and Getting To Know Aware sessions, seven talks and 50 training sessions. The only Sexual Assault Befrienders Service in Singapore is up and running, and our Helpline continues to support women in need.

Through the efforts of dedicated volunteers and the professional staff headed by Executive Director Corinna Lim, and Research & Advocacy Director Dr Vivienne Wee, we’ve submitted six papers for public consultations.

We’ve also participated in numerous meetings and dialogue sessions with MCYS, MOH, the Institute of Policy Studies, and individual MPs, just to name a few. Our opinions are constantly being sought in the media and we’ve contributed eight Op-Eds since Jan 2012.

I have been very fortunate to learn from Past Presidents – like Connie Singam, Lena Lim, Zaibun Siraj, Dana Lam, Braema Mathi – on what it takes to be effective in this role. My special thanks to Nicole Tan and Halijah Mohamad, President and Vice-President respectively in the 2010 – 2012 Board, for their guidance.

We’re very excited to begin a new chapter in AWARE’s history. We look forward to hearing what you think and how you can play an active role in Singapore’s leading women’s advocacy group.


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