Are you concerned about what’s happening around you? Make sure your voice is heard by attending our AWARE roundtable discussions!
As part of efforts to contribute gender perspectives to the public discourse, AWARE hosts at least one Roundtable discussion a month, each on a gender-related issue. Experts are invited to speak on the topic, stimulating questions and discussion among the attendees. Our key aim is to strengthen AWARE’s capacity to identify, understand and respond to a wide range of trends, issues and policies.
The issues that are important to you, are important to us! If there are issues you would like to discuss at our next roundtable, contact us. Please email Sahar at email@example.com.
Previous Roundtable Discussions
29 July 2013 – Singles in Singapore
The Singles Sub-committee of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has been doing research on the quality of life of single Singaporeans through interviews, case study analysis and policy analysis.
The sub-committee identifies single individuals as those who have never married, are divorced, widowed or are single parents. This is indeed HDB’s definition of “singles” and, thus, their policies impact all those falling under this definition. This segment of society forms at least 20% of the population between the ages 30 and 65.
Our research finds that such persons are discriminated against in various governmental public schemes that favour heterosexual nuclear families with young children. Exclusion based on marital status penalises single individuals caring for relatives or friends as they do not fall within the government’s narrow definition of “family.” This has implications for the care of our aging population and non-traditional families.
The sub-committee intends to advocate for specific policy changes that will enable single individuals to live active and fulfilling lives, as well as to care for dependents without fear of discrimination. Such changes require a more appropriate understanding of “families” and “care-giving” in line with our everyday needs and realities. At the roundtable, the sub-committee will share preliminary research findings and a draft of our policy recommendations.
Speakers: AWARE’s Singles Sub-committee – Chew I-Jin, Ailin Mao, Chu Hoi Yee, Aziza Sheerin, Chang Rui Shan and Raudah Abdul Rashid
To register for this event, click here.
17 August 2013, 3pm – “Alienation and the Disappearance of Things”, excerpts from Constance Singam’s “Where I was: A Memoir from the Margins”
Constance Singam, an author and civil society activist, read from her memoirs, ‘Where I Was’, a compelling account of the life of an extraordinary woman. Through humorous and moving accounts, Constance captures in words the images of the people, places and events that are the source of her most powerful memories.
About the Speaker: Constance Singam is an author and civil society activist. She began her career in journalism, before completing a degree in English Literature in her forties, and a Master’s degree in her sixties. Her civil society work has focused on women’s rights and social justice. Singam has been involved with AWARE since its inception in 1985, serving as its President for three terms. She is also a co-founder of civil society groups such as TWC1 and TWC2. She has been a columnist in several publications. Her works include “A history of the TWC: Building Social Space in Singapore”, “Re-Presenting Singapore Women” which she co-edited and has just released her memoir “Where I was: A Memoir from the Margins”. Her blog can be found at http://connie.sg.
20 June 2013 – Giliran
In polygamous relationships, the concept of “giliran,” where the wives each take their turn in having exclusive time with the husband, is often practiced and forwarded as a measure of ’just treatment’ by the husband. This presentation explores this issue within the context of turn-taking in polygamous marriages.
“Giliran” will be explored through the perspectives of husbands and wives, in terms of how they understand this practice, the processes of negotiation in coming to agreements about “giliran” and to what extent they adhere to agreements about “giliran”.
The presentation will examine the living arrangement of polygamous families and the husbands’ perspective on demands on their time compared to money, communication and love.
About the Speaker: Shanthi Thambiah (Ph.D) is Associate Professor and is a lecturer at the Gender Studies Programme, University of Malaya. She obtained her Phd in 1995 from the University of Hull and her M. Phil from the University of Cambridge in 1989. Her areas of specialization are social anthropology and gender studies. She has conducted research and published widely on cultural change and changing gender relations in indigenous communities in Sarawak and amongst the Orang Asli in Peninsula Malaysia. Her current research interests are in the area of gender, family and work and in gender and public policies. From April to July 2013 she is attached to the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore as a Senior Research Fellow researching on the topic “Questioning the Normative through Migration: Muslim Female Migrant Workers’ in Malaysia Reflecting on Men as Providers and Protectors of Women”.
16 May 2013 – IVF Treatment in Singapore
Freezing oocytes, or cyropreservation, is a process which has been used in various parts of the world to preserve a woman’s fertility. The process involves In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and the cooling of eggs to sub-zero temperatures (vitrification). In Singapore, only married women under the age of 45 can undergo IVF treatment. Single women in Singapore are not allowed to undergo IVF treatment unless medically necessitated in order to preserve fertility (e.g. in cases of cancer).
At this roundtable, BELRIS will discuss its findings from two surveys conducted from 2012 to 2013. The findings were published in the ‘Report – Survey Conducted to Evaluate the Position on Elective Oocyte Freezing in Singapore’. It will reveal the positions of Singaporeans, and particularly, Singaporean women’s views on elective oocyte freezing in Singapore. The Report is suggestive of a positive attitude towards elective egg freezing and provides a snapshot of current Singaporean attitudes in the context of recent media coverage on the issue of reproduction in Singapore.
About the Speaker: Hapreet K. Bedi, is Executive Director of BELRIS, an independent, non-profit organization that aims to provide measured, well-balanced research, dialogue and opinion on various reproductive technologies and treatments in Singapore. She is a Singaporean with a Masters in Medical Law (with Merit) from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K., and a Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, U.S.A. She also has achieved her Bachelor of Arts, with Majors in Economics and International Relations, graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Sweet Briar College, Virginia, U.S.A.
24 April 2013 – Violence Against Women Survey Results
Last year, AWARE commissioned a group of final year Ngee Ann Polytechnic students to conduct a survey on public attitudes towards violence against women. This roundtable discussion will highlight the survey findings and recommendations on the issue.
We will consider how violence extends beyond the physical and why society tolerates violence in any of its forms. We will also consider options for supporting victims and intervention.
The survey was conducted as part of the We Can! Singapore Campaign. This campaign aims to change public perceptions and attitudes that enable violence against women. We Can! aims to generate a mass social movement through empowering individuals to inspire person-to-person change as well as building community alliances to reduce public acceptance of violence against women.
19 February 2013 – Gender in Indian Scriptures
To this day, Indian children may hear their grandmothers recite this stanza devoutly every morning. The stanza utters the names of five prominent female characters in Indian tradition. These are the women of the puranas, or ancient Indian literature. Yet none of them fit the archetype of the submissive wife who walks in her husband’s footsteps, head lowered and eyes to the ground. Each of them, perhaps with the exception of the demon, or rakshasa queen Mandodari, has either transgressed or been accused of transgressing the conventional ideas of pativratya (chastity).
We assume that the modern day woman is much more assertive and challenges the norm much more readily than her ancestors. All the talk of women being the keepers of social morality and traditional values, and suffering every oppression in silence so that the family remains intact, has blinded us to what the women in the epics actually said and did. We have been brainwashed by the depictions of puranic women in television soap operas which portray them as submissive, long-suffering icons. But a close reading of the classic texts will tell us that they are very self-assured and aware of their rights, and vocal about it too. Be it Sita and Mandodari in the Ramayana or Kunti and Draupadi of Mahabharata, they dare to question and protest injustice against women. They are not just women from the epics, they are epic women. Let us examine their lives and their transgressions.
About the speaker: Leading translator and acclaimed Sanskrit scholar Prema Jayakumar was born and raised in Kerala. She went to school in Kochi and Bangalore, graduating with an M. A. in English. After 20 years of working for the State Bank of India as a probationary officer, she quit and followed her dream of telling stories. Some of her more notable published works include Wind from the Hills, which was shortlisted for the Crossword award 2008 and featured on the long-list for the Golden Quill Award; Yakshi, picked by BBC for their Off the Bookshelf programme; and Pandavapuram, which inspired a Bengali movie. Also a literary columnist for the Mathrubhumi Weekly and literary reviewer for Indiavision and the New Indian Express, she does translations of short stories, poems, articles and reviews from Malayalam to English. She has written 5 books on mythology for children, and a key area of expertise includes looking at Indian Mythology from a gendered perspective.
Chair: Ms. Sunita Venkataraman
26 January 2013 – Pre-Budget Forum 2013
This year, building on our past advocacy efforts, AWARE is advocating for a care economy that will focus on:
a. Comprehensive healthcare
b. Adequate support for care giving
c. Reducing the Gini Co-efficient and increasing social mobility
d. Increasing support for vulnerable groups, especially those who are affected by multiple layers of discrimination
At this forum, we will be presenting our recommendations for Budget 2013. Please come to express your views so that they may be incorporated into our recommendations.
Speakers: Yeoh Lam Keong, Donald Low and Dr Vivienne Wee
January Roundtable Series Special – The Singapore We Want
”…Singapore must be an inclusive society with a heart. We uphold meritocracy, to motivate everyone to try their best. But individual achievement must be tempered with a mutual obligation. The successful ones have a duty to contribute back more to society. We need to treat one another with dignity and respect, and to share the fruits of success widely, so that no Singaporean is left out.” (Lee Hsien Loong, 26 August 2012, National Day 2012 Message)
The National Day Rally launched a “national conversation” about “our Singapore”: “This national conversation will first and foremost be about putting Singaporeans at the heart of our concerns,” he said. “It will be an opportunity for Singaporeans to come together, and ask: What matters most? Where do we want to go as a country, as a people?” (Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, 26 August 2012, National Day Rally)
AWARE invites you to discuss “The Singapore We Want”, including these questions: 1. How can we adapt to becoming a fast ageing yet sustainable society? 2. How do we become a truly inclusive society that leaves out no one? 3. Can we be an inclusive society with a heart as well as a successful economy? 4. How many people can this small island actually carry? 5. How can we conserve Singapore’s already endangered bio-diversity? 6. What makes this city liveable and for whom? 7. Can our schools provide a more well-rounded education without unduly stressing the students? 8. Can our economy flourish with a 35-hour work week? 9. Can we have a happier society with lower rates of depression?
6 December 2012 – Human Rights Day Roundtable
November 25, the International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women, marks the start of 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender Violence.
This period of activism aims to raise awareness and trigger action on this pervasive human rights violation, significantly ending on Human Rights Day on December 10.
Since 1991, over 4,100 organisations from 172 countries have supported the 16 Days Of Activism. AWARE is one of these organizations. (For more information on what is happening around the world on this period click here.)
Join AWARE’s commemoration of the 16 Days Of Activism at our December Roundtable.
Wong Pei Chi, a key member of the No To Rape Campaign and an AWARE Board Member will speak about the current marital rape immunity law in Singapore and its practical and social implications. How does marital rape immunity affect us as individuals and families as we move toward a more inclusive society?
Speaker: Wong Pei Chi has been an AWARE member for three years. She is a key member of the No To Rape campaign, and won the inaugural AWARE Young Wonder award along with fellow team member Jolene Tan in 2011.
As part of the No To Rape campaign, she has communicated with parties who have an interest in marital rape and the related issues, such as Members of Parliament, government officials, social workers, community leaders, the media, and university groups.
She has also been part of the campaign team’s collective strategy planning, decision-making and research efforts. These include: Explaining the current provisions, why these are inadequate, the consequences for affected people, and questioning embedded narratives on gender roles in marriage and heterosexual relationships which are used to justify the retention of marital rape immunity.
The No To Rape campaign has strengthened her commitment to values of consent, anti-violence and bodily autonomy. As an AWARE Board Member, she hopes to deepen her participation in advocacy for gender equality in Singapore.
No To Rape campaign advocates one simple idea: sexual violence by any person, against any person, is criminal violence. Consequently, non-consensual sexual penetration, regardless of whether the victim and perpetrator are married to each other, should be treated as rape.
11 October 2012 – Singapore’s many helping hands: What the data says about how we are doing
For many years Singapore has adopted a social policy model frequently referred to as the Many Helping Hands. This approach emphasises the role of the family in welfare provision and discourages reliance on government-funded social programmes. Setting aside issues of desirability this presentation presents a broad empirical survey of the evidence on the implications of the Many Helping Hands approach. It shows that while aggregate population-wide indicators reflect significant social progress, a social policy stance that relies heavily on the family may lead to uneven social outcomes across subgroups in the population over time. These mixed results point to serious dilemmas associated with notions of self-reliance that social policy models such as Singapore’s must confront.
Speaker: Mr Ng Kok Hoe is a doctoral candidate in social policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science and holds a MSc in Public Policy and Administration (LSE). His current research examines the prospects of old-age income security in Singapore and Hong Kong, focusing on the interaction of demographic trends, pension policy developments, and the changing role of the family in supporting elderly parents. His broader research interests include East Asian social welfare systems, politics and social policy reform, and social service evaluation. He has worked at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) in policy and service planning positions.
Chair: Dr Kanwaljit Soin, Founder and First President of WINGS
Series from July – September 2012 – Sexual autonomy, free of coercion!
Women’s right to sexual autonomy is imposed upon by many coercive forces, including laws, policies, religious prescriptions, cultural values, family structures, social pressures, etc. What do we mean by ‘sexual autonomy, free of coercion’? It means not to be forced to have sex with people that we do not want. It means the right to consent or not to consent. It also means the right to choose who we want to have sexual relations with (or even not at all). In this discussion, we explore what coercive forces are imposed on women, including those in the family, workplace and other social contexts. Such coercion impacts negatively on women’s physical and psychological health and well-being, with ripple effects on the rest of society.
26 September 2012 – Against Autonomy: Films in Favor of Friendship and Dependency
Why speak against autonomy? Why question freedom, empowerment, identity claims, calls for inclusion, or demands for recognition? And why especially challenge calls for embodied autonomy?
Taking a cue from a number of recent films critiquing “autonomy” and the desire for self assertion, this talk suggests an alternative interruption of imposition, restraint, and repression. Focusing on the relationship between autonomy and coercion (and how they constitute one another), this discussion opens a space to rethink friendship, dependency, and other forms of heteronomy.
Some of the films to be considered include: Finding Nemo, By Hook or By Crook, Boys Don’t Cry, Brokeback Mountain, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Charlotte’s Web, Solos, Female Games, Bugis Street, Drifting Flowers, and Happy Times.
About the speaker: Brian Bergen-Aurand is Assistant Professor of English at Nanyang Technological University, where he teaches Film, Ethics, and Embodiment. He also serves on the Film Studies coordinating committee and as a member of the Gender & Sexuality Studies steering committee. He has served as the Gender and Sexuality editor of Clamor Magazine and on the editorial board of the journal Gender on Our Minds. Since 1995, he has written and presented more than fifty essays, articles, reviews, and papers on embodiment and ethics and is currently working on two books: We Other Singaporeans and The Encyclopedia of Queer Cinema.
16 August 2012 – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Why is there a fuss about sexual orientation? How is it related to gender identity?
Should feminists automatically be LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) supporters?
Starting from the current Roundtable theme of sexual autonomy, let’s explore how sexual orientation and gender identity are connected to personal wellbeing and human rights, making them integral to any individual or organisation’s work to advance human welfare and dignity, against prejudice and injustice.
Join us for a no-holds-barred discussion or simply, an introduction.
About the speakers: Jean and Kelly are members of Sayoni and People Like Us.
Sayoni is a community that works to empower queer women and People Like Us is the pioneer gay and lesbian advocacy group in Singapore.
19 July 2012 – Yes, No, Maybe? Negotiating the Murky Waters of Consent in Rape Law
Under Singapore law, rape is defined as sexual intercourse without the woman’s consent. Sounds simple. But what exactly constitutes “consent”?
Is there consent in the following situations? “I was asleep or unconscious when it happened.” “I was drunk or he was drunk” “I thought no but did not say it” “I did not resist physically” “I honestly believed she wanted it”
Chan Wing Cheong, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, NUS, will talk about the Singapore position on Consent and the tricky issues that arise in practice.
To further the discussion, our volunteers, Zheng Hui Fen and Amanda Chong will share their findings on the definitions of Consent adopted in other countries and in Human Rights prescriptions of what the law on Consent should be.
Join us for this engaging discussion to navigate the murky waters of Consent in rape law and whether there is a need to redefine or clarify the definition of Consent.
About the speaker: Chan Wing Cheong is an Associate Professor at the NUS Law Faculty which he joined in 1993. His teaching and research interests are in criminal law and family law. His recent work on a survey of violence against women in Singapore and call for complete abolition of the marital rape exemption for husbands in the Penal Code led to his nomination for the inaugural AWARE Hero award in 2011. He is a firm believer and supporter of the work that AWARE does.
Amanda Chong read law in Cambridge University, and recently completed a Masters degree at Harvard Law School where she specialized in International Human Rights and Gender issues. Her Masters’ Thesis, “Migrant Brides in Singapore”, was awarded the Yong K Kim Memorial Prize for the best paper about Law in East Asia.
Zheng Hui Fen firmly believes in gender equality and social justice, and has been an active AWARE member/ volunteer since 2009. She is a corporate lawyer by day.
21 June 2012 – Sexual Harassment At The Workplace
Workplace Sexual Harassment is common in Singapore. In its 2008 Workplace Sexual Harassment Survey, 54% of the 500 respondents reported that they experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Yet, Singapore’s laws and mechanism in this area are woefully inadequate. In 2007 and 2011, the UN CEDAW Committee repeated its call to Singapore to comply with its obligation to enact legislation on sexual harassment in the workplace and in educational institutions. Nothing has yet been done.
To assist the State to fulfill its CEDAW obligations, AWARE’s Workplace Sexual Harassment Committee has prepared a further report showing why:
a) based on cases reported to AWARE’s Support Services, the current laws and mechanisms are simply inadequate
b) it is in the interest of Singapore to provide better protection in this area
The Committee strongly urges the State to expand the proposed Cyber Harassment Act to a comprehensive Harassment Act to deal with all forms of harassment, including Workplace Sexual Harassment. This would be appropriate, expedient and innovative.
The Committee, led by Corinna Lim, will present and discuss, its findings and its proposals for legal reform. Please do attend to find out more and to share your views on the proposed solutions.
12 May 2012 – Changing Definitions of Masculinity and Femininity in Singapore
Join us on May 12 to explore how state policies and advertising affect the way we think about gender. This event is jointly organised by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) of NUS and AWARE.
Speakers: A/P Eric Thompson, A/P Michelle Lazar, and Dr. Teo You Yenn/strong>
Chair: Dr Vernie Oliveiro
19 April 2012 – The Potentials and Pitfalls of Female and Feminist Representation Today
The issue of representation – of being seen and heard, and of giving voice to those otherwise silenced – is paramount to feminist scholars and activists, whether this is understood in terms of democratic representation (elections, female ministers, etc.) or media representation (sufficient female visibility, non-sexist or non-stereotypical images of women).
But while it is generally understood or supposed that more female representation in either of these realms is always better or preferable over less, this roundtable nonetheless seeks to discuss the potential problems that such an assumption runs into today. It will do so especially in relation to the ubiquity of media technologies and pervasive online information, as well as in relation to the perhaps male-centric idea of visibility and voicing-out as always preferable. As the old saying goes: speaking is silver, silence is golden?
Speakers: Ingrid M. Hoofd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Her research interests are Issues of Representation, Feminist and Critical Theories, and Philosophy of Technology. Her work addresses the ways in which all kinds of activists and academics mobilize discourses and divisions in an attempt to overcome gendered, raced, and classed oppressions worldwide, and the various unintentional effects this may have. Ingrid wrote her masters’ thesis on Cyber-feminism at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. She has been involved in various feminist projects like AWARE Helpline, SlutWalk, and NextGenderation.
Chair: Sunita Venkataraman
16 February 2012 – The Troublesome Woman as Project & Paradigm
Dr Adeline Koh and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow are co-editors of Troublesome Women, a forthcoming collection of academic essays on women, gender and sexuality in Malaysia and Singapore.
The particular experiences of Malaysia and Singapore offer valuable and often overlooked insights on the intersection between gender, modernity and globalisation. At this Roundtable Discussion, Yu-Mei will explain the genesis of this project, discuss some of the 24 book chapters which have been contributed by established and emerging scholars from around the world, as well as some of the issues they have encountered in pursuing this interdisciplinary project.
Speakers: Adeline Khois an assistant professor of literature at Richard Stockton College in the United States. Her research concentrations are in South-east Asian and African postcolonial literatures and gender studies. She has published peer review essays in journals such as Third Text and Journal of Postcolonial Writing, and co-edited a volume on third cinema titled Rethinking Third Cinema (LIT Berlin: 2009). She is currently working on a monograph called Dangerous Women: Representations of Women’s Education in Postcolonial Literature.
Her website is: http://adelinekoh.org
Yu-Mei Balasingamchow is a writer and independent scholar in Singapore. She is the co-author of Singapore: A Biography (National Museum of Singapore/Editions Didier Millet, Singapore: 2009), which was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2010 and received a gold prize at the Asia Pacific Publishers Association Awards 2010. She is also the editor of Singapore culture magazine POSKOD.SG and recently received funding from the National Arts Council to write her first novel.
Her website is: http://www.toomanythoughts.org.
Chair: Corinna Lim
19th January 2012 – Gender Representations in Advertisements
Have advertisements become more sexualized? Or are they now more gender-neutral? At this month’s roundtable discussion, four students from the National University of Singapore will be sharing their findings via a historical mapping of product advertisements. The products in question are ice-cream, cars, alcohol and McDonalds.
Ice-cream Advertising tells us that a woman’s body is made to be consumed – and what better way to examine this than through commercials that sell ice-cream, that ultimate in ecstatic indulgence? An analysis of ice-cream print ads over time reveals how the rise of the modern nuclear family, capitalism, consumerism, and changes in women’s status have affected the way ice-cream has been bought and sold. A further glance at contemporary ice-cream ads today also show us widespread societal notions about masculinity, race, and ideal gendered as well as sexualised behaviour and body types.
Alcohol From the cultural, economic and biological perspective, men have consistently been the primary target group for alcohol advertisements over the past 60 years. But why? Themes of masculinity, femininity, sexuality and objectification of women will also be highlighted, to showcase how alcohol advertisements (to a large extent) still utilize gender stereotypes in order to attract their primary target audience – the male consumers.
McDonalds: The Presentation will cover an introduction to McDonald’s and its advertising history and a sharing of the analytical findings. It will also highlight the trends in these advertisements – are they all inherently gendered in some way or another?
Speakers: Kellynn is a Sociology and English Literature major at the National University of Singapore with a particular interest in gender and sexuality issues (especially pertaining to Southeast Asia, religion, post-colonialism, and masculinity) as well as children’s and young adult literature. In her spare time, she reads, writes, drinks tea, and enjoys playing volleyball (rather badly) and the ukulele (quite hopeless here too) Nur Fadilah on Alcohol Nur Fadilah is currently a Year 4 NUS undergraduate majoring in Social Work. After graduation in 2012, she will be working as a social worker at a family service centre working with families and at-risk youths Bryan Chia on McDonalds Bryan Chia is a 3rd year undergrad currently reading Sociology at the National University of Singapore. My interests in my field of study is in deconstructing processes and belief systems.
Chair: Sarah Chalmers is a British national who has been resident in Singapore since 2005. She began volunteering with AWARE in 2006 and has been a member of the CEDAW committee working on the last two shadow reports. Her focus in these reports was Articles 5 on gender stereotypes, Article 6 on trafficking and Articles 7 & 8 on the political representation of women and women in international organisations. Sarah is currently looking at issues facing non-Singaporean women married to Singapore citizen husbands.
20th October 2011 – A Crisis of Masculinity? Reflections on Singapore and the United States
Since the 1990s, various commentators have suggested that men face a “crisis of masculinity” in the wake of feminism and changing gender roles. In this roundtable, we will discuss the idea of a crisis of masculinity, whether it has any substance and what if anything to do about it.
The speaker, Associate Professor Eric C. Thompson of the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore will share reflections on the crisis of masculinity as it plays out in both Singapore and the United States.
Speaker: Eric C. Thompson is an Associate Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. Before joining NUS, he completed a PhD in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of California Los Angeles. He teaches anthropology, gender studies, urban studies and research methods. He has conducted research for over two decades throughout Southeast Asia, primarily in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. His research interests include transnational networking, gender studies, urbanism, culture theory, and ASEAN regionalism. His work has appeared in the journals American Ethnologist, Asian Studies Review, Contemporary Sociology, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Field Methods, Global Networks, Political Geography, and Urban Studies among others. He is author of Unsettling Absences: Urbanism in Rural Malaysia (NUS Press, 2007) and Attitudes and Awareness toward ASEAN: Findings of a Ten-Nation Survey (with Chulanee Thianthai, ISEAS Press, 2008).
Chair: Megha Singh
31st August 2011- What’s Up with Sex Workers in Singapore? A discourse on Those Trafficked
AWARE explores this discussion in Part 2 of our Roundtable series on Sex Workers.
Last week we heard about the decisions that sex workers make, their rationale for decisions made or not made and also gained an insight into the work of volunteers who suspend judgement and focus on reaching out to sex workers. This week we come to grips with trafficking in the entertainment industry and how such individuals are supported.
This discussion outlines how sex trafficking is being dealt with by the authorities in Singapore focusing on the inadequacies of current legislation and system in giving due recourse and protection to trafficked victims and in punishing perpetrators of trafficking.
Speakers: Noorashikin Abdul Rahman is the current Vice President of TWC2, an NGO concerned with the rights and welfare of migrant workers in Singapore. She has been a member of the board of TWC2 since it was first registered as a society in 2004. At TWC2 she has taken responsibility of various projects in diverse areas such as direct services, capacity building, policy research and advocacy. Noor also has a doctorate in Social Sciences and has published several academic articles on migration and migrant domestic workers in Singapore.
Mark Goh is Chairperson of the Archdiocesan Commission for the pastoral care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI)
Chair: Ms Braema Mathi
18th August 2011 – Stories from the Geylang Ground
“Stories from the Geylang Ground” is a collection of experiences Project X encountered in its expeditions in Geylang. Describing the dilemmas, situations and life experience of the sex workers there, these stories also highlight the ambiguity of the laws and policing methods pertaining to sex work in Singapore. The resilience and humour used as anecdotes to the challenges they face in both their private and working life not only depict their strengths but also give many learning points to Project X on the need of social justice.
Speaker: Wong Yock Leng is a volunteer with Project X, a group that works towards the welfare & betterment of sex workers. Yock Leng is equipped with 16 years of experience in both social work and NGO work, having spent 7 years in Hong Kong in an international NGO on students’ empowerment or development. has also worked on issues on women workers in Asia Pacific, migrant workers, sex workers in Hong Kong/China. Project X was started in November 2008 by the Student Christian Movement of Singapore with the aim to bridge the gap of alienation between our society and the sex workers.
Project X volunteers work on the Geylang ground 2-3 times weekly in different lorongs, distributing things that are essential to the work of the sex workers together with a medical subsidy if they fall ill and a free coupon for HIV check-up. In their expeditions, the volunteers also fact-find on the sex workers’ occupational hazards and needs so that the project could provide the necessary information to the sex workers as well as to collate records for future advocacy work.
Chair: Ms Braema Mathi
21st July 2011 – Making a Difference for Animals
What can YOU do to make a difference for animals? – This talk covers various animal welfare issues pertinent to Singapore and gives a brief introduction into the ways in which our everyday lives and activities have an impact on the welfare of animals.
This talk touches on the topic of the illegal wildlife trade and examines how ACRES, a local wildlife protection charity, is tackling the trade in Singapore and seeking community solutions to help end this cruel and wasteful trade.
Also included is a glimpse into the work of ACRES in the areas of improving captive animal welfare, undercover investigations, wildlife rescue work and raising public awareness on animal welfare, providing the audience with opportunities to play an active role in improving animal welfare. An exclusive preview into the establishment of Singapore’s first ever wildlife rescue centre – the ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre (AWRC) – will also be given.
Featuring undercover footage about the illegal wildlife trade and stories about the plight of individual animals rescued from the wildlife trade in Singapore. This talk aims to bring a global problem down to an individual level to highlight how the public have and will continue to play a vital role in making a difference for animals in Singapore.
Speaker: Mr. Louis Ng is the Founder and Executive Director of ACRES, a Singaporean charity with a vision of a world where animals are treated with compassion and respect.
He received his Bachelor of Science in biology from the National University of Singapore and his Masters of Science in Primate Conservation from the Oxford Brookes University.
In 2007, Louis was presented with The Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore award. In 2002, Louis received the HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited) / NYAA (National Youth Achievement Award) Youth Environmental Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution in the field of environmental protection and nature conservation in Singapore.
Chair: Ms. Veron Lau is the vice-president of the Cat Welfare Society, a registered charity that aims to promote a humane, responsible and informed society where cats are cared for responsibly as pets and treated with kindness as community cats. The Society actively promotes sterilisation as a vital personal responsibility of a cat owner and an effective means to control our community cat population, instead of destruction. Veron oversees the education and community outreach arm of the Cat Welfare Society.
16th June 2011 – Intelligent nation? Technology, gender and empowerment in Singapore
While society shapes technology, technology also shapes society. How does this relationship affect the way we perceive gender? In Singapore, the relationship between gender and technology goes largely unquestioned. While the digital revolution has been celebrated for creating wealth and empowering users, the relationship between gender and technology is generally not mentioned. Is this important? Does it matter that men still dominate science and technology fields?
The roundtable discussion will ponder these issues, foregrounding the Singapore government’s 10-year technology roadmap. Called Intelligent Nation 2015 (or iN2015), this roadmap was rolled out in 2006 and aims to transform Singapore into a global infocomm hub. An economic blueprint and policy document, iN2015 markets empowerment in a digital future for everyone.What is the role that gender plays in this vision?
Speaker: Ms. Shirley Soh recently completed her Master of Arts (Communication and New Media) at the National University of Singapore. Her thesis examined the ontology and politics of new technology adopted in Singapore’s latest ICT policy, ‘intelligent nation 2015’. Shirley has also worked as a TV journalist, a documentary producer, in the publishing and printing industry, and as a visual artist in practice while teaching at the Lasalle College of the Arts. Most recently, she shaped and directed Singapore Management University’s co-curricula. Shirley’s honours degree was in Political Science at the then-Singapore University. In mid-career, she obtained a BA (Fine Art) awarded by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Her last project was co-curating the exhibition, The Sustainable Shop, for SMU.
Discussant: Ms. Margaret Tan is an academic and artist from Singapore, and works with a wide range of media. Through a feminist perspective, she is interested in the intersections of body with space, technology and culture, particularly with regards to technological embodiment and identity. Margaret recently completed her PhD with the Communications and New Media Department, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. Her dissertation entails a critical analysis of the discourses surrounding pervasive computing and Singapore’s Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) IT masterplan, and their conditions of possibility. She is concerned with how these visions and discourses intersect, and their implications on creative and feminist endeavours.
21st May 2011 – Faith and Gender Roles: Exploration into Faith
Jointly organized by South East Community Development Council (SECDC) and AWARE (Association of Women for Action & Research), this half-day exploratory session is part of SECDC’s monthly interfaith dialogue series that strives to create a space for participants to reflect and talk about what it means to be a member of a certain gender in a faith-based context.
What does your faith say about women’s roles? How have women been portrayed in your faith? To what extent does faith help or erode gender equality? Can gender equality be reconciled with the values and beliefs of the different faiths?
Speakers: Ms Angie Chew Monksfield (Buddhist), Sister Julia Ong and Ms Amy Daniel(Christian), Kathirasan K (Hindu) and Mohamad Imran Taib (Muslim).
Chair: Ms. Lai Ah Eng
To learn more about SECDC’s Exploration Into Faith Series, visit their website www.eif.com.sg or contact Mr. Derrick Ang at 6319-8725.
7th April 2011 – Beyond managing homelessness
People who are homeless are so for various reasons. Some have made poor choices in life, some are involved with alcohol or drugs, yet others are part of the system of generational poverty in which inadequate life skills are handed down from one generation to the next, resulting in an entire culture of people who do not know how to take advantage of the educational, cultural or employment advantages available to them. Some of the homeless are also those who may have had some education, a job and a place to live, but without a “safety net” of family or friends to help them through a difficult time, found themselves evicted from their homes after they lost their job or had a financial crisis. But whatever the circumstances, homelessness is but the symptom of root problems.
Speaker: Ravi Philemon is a community worker and he identifies himself as a blogivist – an activist with a blog. He is a former Chief Editor of The Online Citizen and is a founding member of MARUAH (working group for an ASEAN human rights mechanism, Singapore). He is also the Executive Director of SUN-DAC (an organisation which serves people with disabilities). Ravi has been an advocate for the people who are homeless in Singapore since 2008.
Chair: Braema Mathi
17th February 2011 – The Unmarried Crisis: The Rising Trend of Singlehood
An Overview and Women in waiting? Singlehood and Singaporean Indian Women The dramatic changes in women’s lives in the last 20 years or so have major effects on marriage – whether to marry, when to marry, whether child-raising can be combined with the demands of the workforce, intra-family power structures. Are women choosing singlehood over marriage? What are likely reasons for these trends? What are some of the likely implications for women’s place in family and society, for trends in fertility, and for the family role in aged care.
Speakers: Professor Gavin W. Jones, Asia Research Institute, NUS Kamalini Ramdas, Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Assistant, Department of Geography, NUS Respondents: Associate Professor Tracey Skelton
Chair: Chew I-Jin
13th January 2011 – Women and Poverty
HDB, CPF, Healthcare, Jobs, Income, etc – What do they mean for women who are economically disadvantaged? Do some of our economic and social policies need to be reviewed from the perspective that they may be contributing to a trend of increasing systemic risks for lower-income women in the workforce or homemakers? Should we focus on helping more and more women and their children who need help? Or should we give more attention to awareness and understanding of the policies that may be the dominant cause of poverty? Malaysia gives a monthly allowance of RM1.050 to disabled workers, concessionary public transport for the disabled and elderly, RM1 for medical treatment at public clinics, free treatment and drugs for HIV patients, public housing from RM25,000, etc. These are just some of the comparisons which will be discussed vis-a-vis women in poverty in Singapore.
9th December 2010 – Gender Implications of Secularism and Secularity
The speakers will discuss secularity in both state and society in general and the importance of differentiating between secularism and secularity. A secular state, such as Singapore’s is highly patriarchal which also domesticates women in much the same way as a society funded on religious values. What then are the gendered implications of such a secular state and secular society?
Links to Constance Singam’s articles:
11th November 2010 – Violence Against Women in Singapore
Existing data do not give a full picture of the extent of violence against women in Singapore or the victims’ profile. The present study is the first full scale attempt to uncover the prevalence and types of violence against women in Singapore through a random sampling of Singapore households. Socio-demographic highlights of those women who experienced violence in the last 12 months will be presented at this discussion. It is hoped that this study will contribute to policy evaluation of Singapore’s efforts to curb violence against women and lead to cross cultural analyses with other parts of the world.
Speaker: Chan Wing Cheong, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, NUS
Read a report from this event here.
September 2010 – Women’s Lives: Women’s Choices
A discussion of the past, the present and the future of women’s lives in Singapore. The discussion will include a discussion of the gains, losses and stagnation of the women’s rights movement in Singapore.
Speaker: Dana Lam
Chair: Constance Singam
There is a report of this event here:Why we need to express ourselves.