December 3rd, 2013

Men and associate membership

We are frequently asked why ordinary membership of AWARE is only open to women, with male members becoming associate members with fewer participation rights. Button showing a question mark

AWARE believes in human rights for all and focuses specifically on addressing the gendered barriers in Singapore that currently prevent this from being a reality. Women are systematically disadvantaged in Singapore and the world because of the prevalence of patriarchal and sexist ideologies which accord greater status and power to men. In our political system, in various corporate decision-making bodies and almost every other centre of social, political and economic power, men tend to have a greater voice. The views and experiences of women and girls are frequently overlooked as the default human being is assumed to be male.

In addressing gendered barriers to equal human rights for all, AWARE believes that it is important to provide a forum for participation and decision-making which specifically seeks out and foregrounds the experiences and concerns of women and girls, who are the people who are predominantly marginalised in the status quo.

At the same time, prevailing ideas of gender also hurt men and boys. The dominant system certainly does not advantage all men in every single area of life and society. Men and boys who do not conform to narrow-minded views about appropriate masculinity face a particular burden. Unequal National Service obligations are the product of the sexist view that men are “strong” while women are “weak” and should be primarily homemakers. Men also have a large stake in dismantling gendered barriers in society.

There are men who share AWARE’s ethos and volunteer with us in many areas. We greatly value their contributions and perspectives. The appropriate participation rights to accord male members are a recurring topic of discussion at AWARE and members may well decide at a future stage that the present approach requires review.

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