AWARE Publications & Reports

Over the last two decades, our research teams have produced many books, position papers and policy submissions on issues that concern women in Singapore. The following publications and reports are available at the AWARE Centre.

2013

VIOLENCE QUESTIONNAIRE AND PRESS RELEASE

Summary:

AWARE conducted an attitudinal survey with the aim of understanding Singaporean attitudes towards violence against women, identifying gaps between education and awareness and ultimately using the findings to guide the We Can! End All Violence Against Women (or We Can!) campaign. The survey findings reveal that a large proportion of Singaporeans would not intervene in cases of domestic violence, with a majority of respondents not knowing how to intervene.

FEEDBACK FOR THE COMMITTEE OF FAMILY JUSTICE

Summary:

The Committee for Family Justice was established in 2013 to look into reform to the family justice system to better deal with family disputes. This inter-agency committee is co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajhah and Justice VK Rajah. The committee has compiled a list of issues relating to the family impact of all society and invited feedback from AWARE on the issues and concerns that the Committee should pay attention to. This review aims to determine the appropriate structure and operating model for the Family Court to better manage, resolve and adjudicate cases brought before the Court.

RESPONSE TO BIO-ETHICS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Summary:

The Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) was established by the Government in December 2000 to address the ethical, legal and social issues arising from human biomedical research and its applications. It develops and recommends policies on these issues, with the aim of protecting the rights and welfare of individuals, while allowing the biomedical sciences to develop and realise its full potential for the benefit of mankind. The BAC is currently examining the ethical, legal and social issues arising from recent developments in neuroscience research, with a focus on research involving any intervention on the human brain, or which affects the brain or mind significantly. Various policies and guidelines made by international organisations have been studied carefully. Local and international experts have also been consulted. Following deliberations on these issues, a consultation paper entitled “Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Neuroscience Research” has been prepared. AWARE was invited by the BAC to give our comments to the consultation paper, and we focused on specific sections in the paper.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE SINGAPORE BUDGET 2013

Summary:

AWARE calls for increased support for the care economy, reiterates the need for an inclusive Budget that adequately meets the needs of all women and vulnerable groups in Singapore, reminding the Government that the Budget should be aligned with the State’s obligations under the international treaties that Singapore has ratified. AWARE recommends that the State significantly increase its efforts in addressing the gaps in five key areas: comprehensive healthcare, meeting the needs of the elderly, increasing support for persons with disabilities, adequate support for caregiving, as well as reducing the Gini coefficient and increasing social mobility.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE EMPLOYMENT ACT

Summary:

AWARE makes the following recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower with a focus on extending coverage of the Employment Act and augmenting flexibility for employers.

2012

REPORT ON WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Summary:

This is AWARE’s second major report on Workplace Sexual Harassment. In this Report, AWARE reviews the current laws relating to Workplace Sexual Harassment against the experience of victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment that AWARE supported, concluding that the the current law and mechanisms, which deals with this issue primarily through the criminal law, are inadequate.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON SINGAPORE’S POPULATION POLICIES

Summary:

AWARE makes the following recommendations to the NPTD based on the three areas of focus – a strong and cohesive society, a good quality living environment, and a sustainable and vibrant economy. These recommendations address the questions posed by the NPTD in their Issues Paper.

SUMMARY OF THE POSITION OF THE VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION BILL IN RELATION TO THE UN CONVENTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (UNCRC)

Summary:

AWARE is of the view the Bill in its present form contravenes the State’s obligations under the UNCRC as it does not provide for any requirement or mechanism to ensure that the decision is made in the best interest of the child. This is especially necessary where the child is very young. To comply with the UNCRC, the Bill should provide:

a) that the decision for the sterilisation of the child should be one that is in the best interest of the child; and
b) that there should be an independent party who assesses this. This party should ideally be the Court to be consistent with the current provisions on the sterilisation of persons lacking mental capacity.

AWARE FEEDBACK TO PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON MEDISHIELD

Summary:

Singapore’s healthcare system is internationally acclaimed, but the current exclusion of neonatal and congenital defects is in stark contrast to other Commonwealth countries. In the UK, Canada and Australia, health care of children with neonatal and congenital defects is covered by the National Health Service and Medicare respectively after registration of the baby. Increasing access to treatment for crucial birth defects would further improve Singapore’s already very low infant mortality rate, indeed the lowest in the world (UN World Population Prospects Report 2011). It would also improve the quality of life for children in need.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION OF THE INCOME TAX (AMENDMENT) BILL 2012: SUBMISSION OF COMMENTS BY AWARE

Summary:

We would like to suggest that the scope of the amendment titled ‘Enhancement to the Earned Income Relief Earned Income Relief’ be expanded to include caregivers who return to the workforce after leaving to be caregivers of dependents. We believe that this enhancement would help to incentivize such caregivers to return to work. To ensure affordability and sustainability, we suggest that the EIR given to such a caregiver be equal to the number of years that he or she has been out of the workforce. We believe that this expansion of scope will align this amendment with other policies that seek to attract caregivers, especially women, to return to the workforce after leaving it. This will tap our latent pool of local manpower.

MARRIAGE & PARENTHOOD TRENDS: A SUBMISSION TO THE NATIONAL POPULATION & TALENT DIVISION

Summary:

AWARE thanks the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) for inviting views from the public on how to improve Singapore’s birth rate and how different stakeholders can help to foster a supportive environment for family life to encourage fertility decision-making by couples. The TFR issue is fundamentally linked to quality of life issues – i.e. the general well-being of individuals and societies. If citizens do not have a sense of well-being and security, they will not be inclined to take on additional responsibilities of parenting and caregiving. To address TFR, we must therefore look at all policies that affect our citizens’ quality of life, including policies on education, health, housing, employment and retirement.

SUBMISSION ON DRAFT VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION BILL

Summary:

AWARE welcomes the move to better safeguard the sexual and reproductive autonomy of persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The proposed amendments, however, do not adequately protect people – especially women and girls – who lack mental capability. Intellectually disabled women and girls face greater discrimination and violence than other women. This should be explicitly recognised in the new legislation. If the intent of the amendments is to align the Voluntary Sterilisation Act with the Mental Capacity Act (2008), why is the MCA regime not adopted fully? We urge that voluntary sterilisation decisions be brought under the MCA. AWARE is deeply disturbed to find that the Bill offers intellectually disabled people lower standards of protection when it comes to sterilisation than the MCA does for less weighty decisions, such as managing their finances.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION

Summary:

In response to the Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons seeking public feedback on the proposed National Plan of Action, which will guide Singapore’s response to trafficking in persons (also known as TIP) from 2012-2015, AWARE submitted our recommendations for tackling TIP, a significant transnational crime which exploits vulnerable victims. Singapore is an attractive hub of economic activity with high people flows, and seen as an attractive destination country by human trafficking syndicates.

FEEDBACK FOR THE SINGAPORE BUDGET 2012

Summary:

AWARE calls for an inclusive 2012 budget to support a caring society. To ensure a truly inclusive society, women’s issues must be addressed fully as national issues. AWARE thus calls for a budget that adequately meets the needs of all women in Singapore, regardless of age, marital status and disabilities. This is aligned with the State’s commitment and obligation to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

2011

SUBMISSION TO MINISTRY OF LAW ON SECTION 157(D) OF THE EVIDENCE ACT

Summary:

Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act makes it possible to discredit an alleged sexual assault victim through her sexual history. This ‘chastity’ requirement, which is based on common law, is clearly outmoded and has been reversed by statute in most common law jurisdictions. It is not the function of rape evidence law to perpetuate and enforce moral judgments on women’s sexual lives, but to promote the discovery of the truth.

SURVEY ON PATERNITY LEAVE

Summary:

This report on parental leave in Singapore is a collaboration between AWARE and the students of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who conducted a survey on the subject. The report advocates policies such as converting the fourth month of maternity leave into ‘parental leave’ that can be taken by either parent, and turning the first two weeks of maternity leave into mandatory paternity leave instead.

WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE SINGAPORE BUDGET

The following position paper was submitted by AWARE to Singapore’s policy-makers in February 2011 before the budget was released. In this submission regarding the Singapore Budget, AWARE focuses on six areas:Transparency of data; families with children; caregiving; people in financial distress; women’s health; women and employment.

2010

DRAFT BILL ON INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION – COMMENTS

Summary:

In response to the Public Consultation on the Draft Bill to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, AWARE submitted comments and recommendations on the draft Bill.

FEEDBACK ON THE WOMEN’S CHARTER

Summary:

This report provides additional recommendations to the changes implemented by the government. The key recommendation is that a central body be set up to administer maintenance payments and facilitate the collection of outstanding payments, with powers to access information from government databases.

2008

RESEARCH STUDY ON WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Summary:

This report looks at the phenomenon of sexual harassment in Singapore. It is the result of 16 months of research by AWARE’s Sub-Committee on Workplace Sexual Harassment. The research shows that sexual harassment is still a significant challenge for employees. Key findings include: 7 out of 10 employees who were surveyed were not aware of sexual harassment policies in their workplace; half of the respondents have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace; and sexual harassment affects both males and females.

2007

SMALL STEPS, GIANT LEAPS: A HISTORY OF AWARE & THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT IN SINGAPORE

Small Steps, Giant Leaps: A History of AWARE and the Women’s

Summary:

Part 1 of this book provides an overview of feminism and a history of women’s activism and achievements in Singapore prior to the founding of AWARE in 1985. Part II of this book is about AWARE.

 

 

 

2006

BEYOND YOUTH: WOMEN GROWING OLDER & POORER

Summary:

AWARE-TSAO addresses issues faced by older women who are outliving their male counterparts, but have less financial security, health care and are more dependent on children. They make recommendations in the areas of employment policies, CPF and social protection policies, healthcare financing, housing, social networks and educational programmes to change the social norm of treating women as care-givers.

AWARE POSITION PAPER ON THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE PENAL CODE

Summary:

AWARE presented our feedback on the proposed amendments to the Penal Code in 2006. In particular, AWARE commended the government for enacting Sections 376(B) to 376(D), prohibiting the prostitution of minors within Singapore and overseas. AWARE also provided detailed feedback on sections that pertain to rape, outrages on decency and unlawful assembly.

BEYOND BORDERS: SEX WITH CHILDREN

Beyond Borders: Sex With Children

Summary:

This report provides insight into the legal intricacies in dealing with people who have sex with minors abroad, a practice which is easily accessible in the region. The report discusses the problem of sex tourism and proposes that extra-territorial legislation (ETL) be introduced to deal with this. It also provides scope for scaling up on the government’s position vis-à-vis Conventions on the Rights of the Child, the Stockholm Declaration, the Yokohama Global Commitment and the International Labour Organization.

BEYOND HAPPILY AFTER: MAKING A MATCH BETWEEN SINGAPORE GROOMS & FOREIGN BRIDES

Beyond Happily Ever After: Making a Match between Singapore Grooms and Foreign Brides

Summary:

As an increasing number of foreign brides from neighbouring countries flock to Singapore through matchmaking agencies, AWARE delves into the hidden issue of exploitation and provides recommendations to tackle these problems. The paper sets out the concerns of the foreign brides trade, the inadequate legislation in this area and the promotion of stereotypes of women.

2005

SPECIAL REPORT ON THE CASINO PROPOSAL: LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

Summary:

The primary concern on the casino issue is the well-being of the family. AWARE views the establishment of a casino in Singapore as a retrogressive move that puts at risk the well-being of many families in Singapore. AWARE feels that the social impact of gambling has not been seriously considered, except for a cursory acknowledgement that “there is a problem” and some vague reassurance that “it will be looked into”. There is an absence of a systematic study on the impact of gambling on Singapore. AWARE is asking the authorities to further study and draw lessons from the several studies already conducted in the US and Australia, before a decision is made.

GENDER IN JUSTICE – WOMEN IN THE LAW IN SINGAPORE

Summary:

This paper explores the issues faced by female lawyers in Singapore and puts up recommendations for changes in the way lawyers have traditionally held their practices.

2004

BEYOND BABIES: NATIONAL DUTIES OR PERSONAL CHOICE?

Beyond Babies: National Duty or Personal Choice?

Summary:

This paper discusses a direct correlation between Total Fertility Rate and the level of gender equality. Recognition of the importance of quality of life issues for the couple and their future child, adequate support structures for families and availability of flexi-work arrangements are key factors in countries which have seen positive fertility trends.

2002

REMAKING SINGAPORE: VIEWS OF HALF THE NATION

Summary:

The first part of this report addresses various gender issues such as workplace policies, political participation, the birthright of children born to Singaporean mothers abroad, constitutional rights, National Service participation, cultural considerations, human resource policies in the civil service and foreign workers. These come hand in hand with policy recommendations. The second half of the report elaborates on the survey results on the same issues.

2001

QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL: A REPORT ON EDUCATION IN SINGAPORE

Summary:

Singapore’s education system is a subject of critical importance to the well-being of Singapore women, who make up the majority of teachers and, as parents, often shoulder the principal responsibility for monitoring their children’s educational development. This prompted AWARE to look into the issues facing Singapore’s education system in the light of the Ministry of Education’s statement of “The Desired Outcomes of Education” (1998) and the inauguration of the Prime Minister’s S21 vision of a more participatory society.

2000

RAPE: WEAPON OF TERROR

Rape: Weapon of Terror

Summary:

Rape has been used throughout history to incite fear and reinforce the notion that women’s bodies are a commodity and a battleground. Through the case studies from Haiti, Bosnia, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Kashmir, Aceh, East Timor, Iran Jaya and Jakarta, these ideas are further explained and discussed.

1999

THE THREE PARADOXES – WORKING WOMEN IN SINGAPORE

The Three Paradoxes – Working Women in Singapore

Summary:

This book analyses how policy-makers continue to be challenged on how to utilize the talents of each of Singapore’s citizen, and yet maintain certain family policies with respect to women. It provides useful perspectives contributing to an understanding of the factors influencing women’s behavior in organisations and the society and, more importantly, highlights good practices and give invaluable suggestions which can help overcome some of these obstacles.

THE SINGAPORE COUNCIL OF WOMEN & THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT

Dr Phyllis Ghim Lian Chew’s work documents in scrupulously researched detail a now half-forgotten and under-appreciated movement, which struggled for women’s betterment in the years just preceding Independence. In the first flush of Independence came many of the legal benefits for which the Singapore Council of Women had been calling with such vehemence and commitment, through the 1950s. This article first appeared in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies in 1994, and is reprinted with permission.

1998

EMPOWERMENT BOOKLET 1: HOW I BECAME AWARE

How I Became Aware

Summary:

This autobiography of AWARE founding member Hedwig Anwar briefly traces her childhood and teenage years, through the Japanese occupation. She went on to become the only female graduate from the University of Malaya to graduate with a first-class Honours degree in her year and went on to study in London on a scholarship. She worked in various libraries in Singapore and Malaya before serving as Director of the National Library in Singapore from 1965 until her retirement in 1988. She was AWARE’s third president from 1989 to 1991.

EMPOWERMENT BOOKLET 2: THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN

The Empowerment of Women

Summary:

Dr. Kanwaljit Soin elaborates on the difference between sex and gender and elucidates the concept of gender-role socialisation. She goes on to explain that gender ideology is often used to justify cultural beliefs by deeming them natural or inborn. She also elaborates on the concept of empowerment through economic intervention, education, awareness-building and women’s organisations. She ends by stressing that men, too, can benefit from the empowerment of women.

EMPOWERMENT BOOKLET 3: WOMEN, WORK & FAMILY

Women, Work and Family

Summary:

Dr. Phyllis Ghim-Lian Chew sheds light on the plight of the working woman: a double workload, not enough financial compensation and less time for children. Additionally, the family is in a state of transition: it is disintegrating and fragmenting. The only solution is not to live by the male standard and instead create a new paradigm which requires the participation and efforts of men as well as women.

1996

THE TIES THAT BIND: IN SEARCH OF THE MODERN SINGAPORE FAMILY

Summary:

This book takes an honest look at how far women in Singapore have progressed. The essays cover a wide spectrum of topics ranging from a historical overview of the Singapore family to a look at multi-generational and nuclear living arrangements. It also documents the struggle of low-income female heads of households as well as women’s changing status from full-time mothers to full-time professionals. There are also reflections on living in an extended family, a personal experience of ageing and one male’s view on how men see women. The last essay looks at the impact of national policies on women and their family.

1992

BOY,BOY! GIRL, GIRL!: A STORY OF GROWING UP

Summary:

When AWARE began to look into the ways in which girls and boys are brought up in Singapore, we realised that the two sexes are not treated in the same way. This difference begins even before birth, with different expectations, preferences, and practices. We decided to present our ideas in the form of an illustrated book, in which two couples are followed from the birth of their children to the birth of their grand-children. One of these families believes in treating boys and girls equally and the other family treats them differently. You will recognise yourselves and your neighbours in the scenes and characters of this little book.

1988

THE SINGAPORE WOMAN

Summary:

In the last two decades, Singapore women have made much progress, both for themselves and for their society, by breaking away from traditional roles and entering almost every field of economic and social life. This booklet is an effort to take a snapshot of the Singapore woman as she is in the 1980s and a look at the challenges that lie ahead for her. This is not a definitive statement of the status of women in Singapore. It simply tries to provide the reader with a handy guide to some of the facts and figures, while also offering from food for thought.

MEN, WOMEN & VIOLENCE

Summary:

This handbook aims to create a sense of awareness in the general public about the crimes of violence against women childen and the elderly. It also contributes to the public awareness of citizens’ rights in the context of such crimes and provides information on preventive measures, police and legal procedures and various other strategies for coping when caught in violent situations. This is also a guide for those who want to take that first difficult step out of a violent situation.

POPULATION: AN ISSUE OF CURRENT CONCERN

Summary:

This position paper addresses government actions to encourage Singaporeans to have more children due to the dropping fertility and birth rates. The paper looks at issues such as how predictions about future populations are made, the proportions of different ethnic groups and optimum population density. It also discusses whether women will really benefit from these government policies, and includes some policy recommendations.

1987

THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN THE MEDIA: A STUDY

Summary:

This study analyses the English-language daily and the English-language Sunday paper in Singapore to determine how women are portrayed in these publications. The study also analyses three magazines available in Singapore. These are Go Magazine, Woman Now and Signature. The completed study is presented as a collection of articles. Each article analyses the content of the news items which appear in the section which is under scrutiny, the advertisements, the photographs and the amount of coverage given to women. All the articles have provided an analysis of the image of women as presented in the newspapers.