Our ongoing projects are organized into seven themes that cover a wide-range of issues: Culture, Economy, Health, Leadership, Population, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and Violence Against Women. These projects are at various stages of completion and we encourage you to contact AWARE if you would like to be involved.
Today’s culture categorizes women as inferior to men in many facets of society. We aim to combat and correct these stereotypes in order to perpetuate a culture in which women can excel.
- Education and Social Mobility – AWARE has initiated a new project to focus on Education and social mobility. We hope to make recommendations to equalize educational opportunities for greater social mobility, with particular focus on the disadvantages of specific groups of children, families and communities. As this project progresses, research into improving current initiatives will formulate the basis for the recommendations.
- Gender Equitable Interpretations of Culture – Despite ratification of CEDAW by Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, full implementation has proven difficult in the face of religious and cultural practices that are deemed incompatible with a gender equal society. As various State parties continue to oppose women’s rights, “culture” has been cited as grounds for CEDAW reservations. In Singapore, specifically, the government has stated that these reservations are in force only where “compliance with these provisions would be contrary to their religious or personal laws.” However, with these “religious or personal laws” unspecified, AWARE sees an opportunity to present an alternative interpretation that is conducive to a gender equal society. This project will equip gender advocates with gender-equitable interpretations and expressions of culture in order to push for the lifting of reservations and full implementation of CEDAW.
An economy controlled by men is an economy for men. Yet, women are disproportionately affected by economic decisions and policies regarding employment in Singapore.
- Budgeting for inclusive society – As part of our efforts to bring women’s perspectives to policy-making, AWARE submitted and conducted a pre-budget forum to solicit views on the recommendations made to Singapore Budget 2013. Following these recommendations, the sub-committee has initated research for further advocacy with specific focus on measures to reduce poverty.
- Equal Opportunities in Employment – In 2012, comparative research on other countries with anti-discrimination legislation was done as a part of AWARE’s previous research on issues of discrimination in employment. This project will fulfill research initiatives to ascertain the significance of discrimination in employment in Singapore through case studies. The study plans to cover exclusion on the basis of gender, ethnicity, age, physical ability, etc. and lay the groundwork for a recommendation.
How does gender effect the recognition and treatment of various health issues?
- Gender and Disabilities – AWARE’s Gender and Disabilities Sub-Committee, set up in March 2012, submitted recommendations that were adopted in the Voluntary Sterilisation Act passed in Parliament in October 2012. Building on the work done in 2012, the sub-committee plans to conduct an exploratory study about the intersection of gender and disabilities, an under-researched area in Singapore. The project plans to conduct a basic needs assessment of girls and women with disabilities through focus group discussions with caregivers, professionals and people facing different disabilities. An analysis of Singapore’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), both of which have been ratified by Singapore, will also be conducted. AWARE plans to compile the key research findings and present the recommendations at a forum on gender and disabilities, a first of its kind in 2014.
- Decriminalization of Suicide – The project is aimed at persuading the government of Singapore to decriminalize suicide by amending the law and establishing, instead, a robust suicide-prevention framework. Suicide is to be treated as a public health issue in accordance with the WHO recommendation. The immediate objective is to draft a policy paper to be circulated to the Ministry of Law, Ministry of Social and Family Development and Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Gender Equitable Healthcare – AWARE recently initiated this project to build on the recommendations pertaining to healthcare made in Budget 2013. WHO rankings for Singapore are high in terms of efficiency but low in terms of equality of access to all. AWARE plans to conduct research and make recommendations to ensure gender equitable healthcare for all in Singapore. This will highlight the specific challenges faced by Singapore citizens in their access to the various health schemes, the exclusions of different sub-groups of the population like the elderly, the disabled, foreign wives etc. The research also hopes to build on best practices and guidelines for equitable healthcare practiced in other similar societies and make recommendations for macro and micro levels of practices.
Gender-related issues are often placed on the margins of political discourse when women are not properly represented in positions of power. Thus, women leaders are a vital part of achieving a gender-equal society.
- Leadership of Women in Senior Management – “Singaporean women have a high literacy rate, are highly educated, and comprise nearly half of the Singapore resident workforce. However, the percentage of women at senior levels within organisations is disproportionately less than men .” AWARE has initiated a new project to look at the challenges that women face to rise to senior management positions in corporations and civil service or civil society organisations, issues of gender in the workplace and ways to nurture women leaders in society.
Singapore’s population is regulated by a number of policies determined by the government. The implementation of these policies tends to favor certain groups and, consequently, discriminates against others. An equal society can only exist if the government recognizes the rights of all.
- Discrimination based on marital status – AWARE’s research on the discrimination of people based on marital status intensified in the past few years and AWARE is currently in the process of putting together a recommendation paper. The sub-committee will also be presenting their preliminary research findings at a Roundtable on 29 July 2013 focusing on the issue of housing discrimination faced by unmarried, divorced or widowed Singaporeans.
- Population policies for an inclusive society – Singapore has recently adopted numerous population policies that favor those with higher education and greater income. The HOPE Scheme offers benefits and monetary incentives for low income families to have no more than three children, while the White Paper incentivizes those of greater means to have more children. These discriminatory policies must be revised to create an equal society in which all are able to create families as they see fit. Thus far, AWARE has published several op-ed and media articles to bring attention to this problem, as well as offered recommendations for revision to the current policies.
Sex Orientation and Gender Identity
Sexual orientation and gender identity is a topic of great tension in Singapore but it is important to offer a safe space for those exploring their sexuality. Our research provides factual information to allow the public to make educated choices.
- Sex Education – Currently in Singapore, secondary schools follow a curriculum that emphasizes abstinence before marriage. While AWARE understands the benefits of abstinence, we also recognize the reality that many students are engaging in premarital sex and, thus, should be given the information to ensure that sex is being had safely and with consent. AWARE plans to make recommendations for alternative methods to sexual education in the school system.
Violence Against Women
Violence against women isn’t always black and blue. It can be psychological or emotional, as well. AWARE hopes to bring an end to violence in all of its forms.
- We Can! End All Violence Against Women Campaign – We Can! is a people-to-people campaign that works through Change Makers – individuals who commit to taking steps in their own lives to end violence. With the understanding that small actions make big changes, the campaign looks to build a gender-equal society by starting with equal relationships.
- Public attitudes to Violence Against Women – AWARE recently conducted an island-wide survey about public attitudes and perceptions of gender stereotypes and violence against women. The results were presented at a roundtable in April, and the subsequent media release attracted much attention. AWARE is in the process of writing a research paper about the survey and its findings for publication.
- Women’s Charter: Provisions for Violence – As the Women’s Charter covers many issues, this project focuses specifically on the provisions for domestic violence within the Charter. Using statistics, literature review, and case examples we plan to advocate for those who are not protected by the Charter, as well as those who are inadequately covered. We will also analyze the effectiveness of the law and legal practices in protecting victims against violence, including the application process for a Personal Protection Order.
- Trafficking – AWARE defines the key illegal aspects of trafficking as the deprivation of liberty, deceptive recruitment, and debt bondage. The four main sectors of labor migration that AWARE hopes to address are the marriage industry, domestic work, sex work, and construction work. Though sex work is often the most dominant topic in public discourse of trafficking, our research will extend into these four areas, with a particular focus on foreign domestic workers. This project will explore possible changes to the Employment Act, Women’s Charters, Children & Young Person’s Act, and the Immigration Act, culminating in advocacy directed at the Ministry of Manpower.
- Workplace Sexual Harassment – 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 offered recommendations on legal recourse for victims of workplace sexual harassment. The AWARE Training Institute is conducting a series of workshops for corporations based on these findings to help prevent and manage sexual harassment in the workplace. Investigations into workplace sexual harassment have also resulted in the Sexual Harassment Out (S.H.OUT) campaign.
- Qualitative research on emotional violence – This project will look beyond the numbers ascertained in surveys, to speak directly with those involved in emotional violence. We will first determine to what extent various groups–men, women, police, social workers, medical professionals, and others–recognize non-physical forms of violence. We will then identify the obstacles that prevent women from leaving situations in which they are subjected to emotional violence. Based on these findings, AWARE will formulate a strategy for increasing public recognition for emotional violence and reducing the obstacles that entrap women.