Research & Advocacy
Research has always been AWARE’s strong point. Our research teams have produced many reports, position papers and policy submissions on issues related to women in Singapore.
The research reports and books published over the last two decades include:
Workplace Sexual Harassment (report)
United Nations CEDAW Shadow Report
Small Steps, Giant Leaps (book)
Beyond Happily Ever After: Foreign Bride Report (report)
Beyond Borders: Sex with Children (research report)
Beyond Youth: Women Growing Older and Poorer (report)
Beyond Babies: National Duty or Personal Choice? (report)
Remaking Singapore: Views of Half the Nation (report)
The Education Report (report)
Rape: Weapon of Terror (book)
The Three Paradoxes: Working Women in Singapore (book)
Women, Work and Family (report)
The Empowerment of Women (report)
The Ties that Bind: In Search of the Modern Singapore Family (book)
The Portrayal of Women and Men in Advertisements: Are We Sensitive Enough? (report)
How I Became Aware (book)
The Singapore Woman (book)
Population: An Issue of Current Concern (report)
Men, Women and Violence: A Handbook for Survival (book)
State of the Nation’s Women report
This is a new, 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 (SNOW)
In its scope, the SNOW report will be similar to the CEDAW shadow reports that AWARE produces and submits to the United Nations. Like the CEDAW report, the SNOW 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.
The SNOW project will be getting underway soon.
AWARE has for several years done extensive work on the Singapore Shadow Report to the UN on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and it is often described as an international Bill of Rights for women.
In signing CEDAW, governments commit to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women. Every four years, signatories are required to send a report to the UN CEDAW Committee describing the steps they have taken to comply with the convention. Singapore ratified the CEDAW convention in October 1995 and has submitted three reports since then.
Along with the official report by the government, the UN encourages non-governmental groups such as AWARE to submit CEDAW Shadow Reports. The aim is to get a more comprehensive picture of the lives and status of women in each country.
In May 2007 AWARE submitted its second Shadow Report to the UN. This report got excellent reviews from the UN CEDAW committee in New York.
After receiving each country’s official and shadow report, the UN CEDAW Committee submits Concluding Comments to each country. In its comments to the Singapore government, the UN expressed concern about:
‘ .. the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men within the family and society at large. These stereotypes present a significant obstacle to the implementation of the Convention, are a root cause of violence against women in the private and public spheres, put women in a disadvantaged position in a number of areas, including in the labour market, and limit their access to leadership positions in the political and public life.’
AWARE believes that the CEDAW mechanism is crucial in keeping women’s issues on the agenda. We believe it is necessary and important to use a human rights framework for working towards the advancement of women and eliminating discrimination.
AWARE’s CEDAW Subcommittee continues to work on the next Shadow Report.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwanted, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. This can include physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour that can take place between colleagues or superiors and subordinates.
It can be directed at a specific individual or involve more general behaviour that creates a degrading and intimidating work environment.
Sexual harassment can vary in severity and should be viewed along a continuum – from leers, sexist remarks, harassing emails or text messages, and touching, to sexual assault and rape. Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex and the harasser may be of either gender.
Harassers can include employers, colleagues, clients and customers. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
Sexual harassment can be very disruptive, not only to the individuals but also to their families, colleagues, and companies. Those that experience sexual harassment often suffer from shame and guilt. They often leave their jobs, affecting their professional development and their families’ income. Family members typically feel frustrated and angry because they cannot protect the victim. Colleagues may also face sexual harassment. Ultimately, the company suffers from decreased productivity and turnover.
In 2007 and 2008, AWARE conducted a survey of sexual harassment at the workplace. We also gathered information about companies’ sexual harassment practices and policies, and recommendations on legal recourse for victims of workplace sexual harassment.
The survey findings:
- More than 50% of respondents said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment at their workplace
- 1 in 4 knew of people who had experienced some form of sexual harassment
- Of those who experienced sexual harassment, 34% of women respondents and 19.2% of men respondents reported being harassed several times.
A copy of the survey report may be purchased from the AWARE Centre for $15.
The AWARE Training Institute is developing a series of workshops to offer to corporations to help them prevent and manage sexual harassment at the workplace.
The research team set out to assess whether or not women feel they have the necessary support to enable them to balance the demands of work and family, and to detail the issues faced by Singaporeans trying to work and raise a family.
A report is in the pipeline.
There were two parts to the research – a gender-neutral survey that both men and women were asked to complete; and a study of the work-life balance programmes offered at various businesses in Singapore.
The team wanted to find out whether the programmes were being taken used by staff, and the reasons why they were being used or not being used.
Singles in Singapore
This is another new project that will be getting underway soon.
The Singles in Singapore study will 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.