This is to Highlight one of The Latest News and to suggest the link.
This is to Highlight one of The Latest News and to suggest the link.

Singapore Committee for UN Women News (2016)


We are looking for interns and volunteers!

Posted: 2016-12-01

EVENTS & FUNDRAISING - Full Time Internship

The intern will take ownership of all fundraising activities and acquisition of sponsors for the SNOW gala dinner, establish and continue corporate engagement with monetary return and continue to cultivate relationships with partners, sponsors and donors. 

Start date: January 2017. Minimum internship duration is of 1 year. Only Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and Dependent Pass holder will be considered.

To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter detailing your suitability for the position to madhavi.putcha@unifem.org.sg by 6th January 2017.

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EVENTS & FUNDRAISING - Monthly Donor Program - Full Time Internship

The intern will take ownership of all fundraising activities and acquisition of sponsors for the SNOW gala dinner, establish and continue corporate engagement with monetary return and continue to cultivate relationships with partners, sponsors and donors. The intern will also be responsible for business planning and building a sustainable and comprehensive monthly donor program.

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Start date: January 2017. Minimum internship duration is of 1 year. Only Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and Dependent Pass holder will be considered.

To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter detailing your suitability for the position to madhavi.putcha@unifem.org.sg by 6th January 2017.


EVENTS & FUNDRAISING - Corporate & Individual Membership - Full Time Internship

The intern will take ownership of all fundraising activities and acquisition of sponsors for the SNOW gala dinner, establish and continue corporate engagement with monetary return and continue to cultivate relationships with partners, sponsors and donors. The intern will also be responsible for identifying corporate fundraising opportunities for collaboration, partnerships and networking.

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Start date: January 2017. Minimum internship duration is of 1 year. Only Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and Dependent Pass holder will be considered.

To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter detailing your suitability for the position to madhavi.putcha@unifem.org.sg by 6th January 2017.


Finance Volunteers

The volunteer position will require an individual with a background and skill sets in Finance. The candidate will assist the Finance Intern with tasks related to Finance and other administrative tasks as needed.

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Start date: January 2017. Preferred Minimum duration is 6 months to 1 year.

To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter detailing your suitability for the position to madhavi.putcha@unifem.org.sg by 6th January 2017.

 
 


Interested in joining the team? We're hiring!

Posted: 2016-09-30

 
Singapore Committee for UN Women offers internships that give participants the opportunity to learn about and contribute to providing solutions for issues affecting women and girls in Singapore and in the region. Internship durations may vary from a minimum of 6 months to 1 year. Interns receive a monthly stipend of $500. Due to the large volume of applications, we regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified.
 

Finance - Full Time Internship
 
The internship position will require an individual with a background and skill sets in Finance. The candidate will assist the General Manager with tasks related to Finance and other administrative tasks when needed. 
 
What we are looking for:
  • Individuals who are passionate and knowledgeable about women’s rights
  • Meticulous and able to Multi-task and event organize
  • Excellent Microsoft Excel/Word skills as well as verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to think out of the box and constantly find new ways to engage the youth
  • Ability to practically weigh and justify your project’s returns to the organization and to sponsors
  • Team player and is passionate about getting things done
  • Fluent in speaking and writing in English

Start date: Immediate. Minimum internship duration of 1 year. Only Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and Dependent Pass holder will be considered.

To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter detailing your suitability for the position to madhavi.putcha@unifem.org.sg by 15th October 2016.
 
 
 
 

 
DESIGN & INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS - Volunteers

The Volunteer will assist the Communications Manager to conceptualize and execute ideas on Fundraising, Public Education and General Communications. In addition, the role will involve a high degree of conceptualizing, designing and producing key marketing collateral for events and campaigns.

The Volunteer will be responsible for:
  • Designing and producing marketing collateral for all events, campaigns and initiatives (both digital and hard copy)
  • Managing the Website and producing visual and written content

We are looking for someone:
  • Highly creative and have driven imagination.
  • Skilled in the use of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and HTML (optional)
To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter detailing your suitability for the position to catrina.cortes@unifem.org.sg by 15th October 2016.

 
 


A Working Mother's Dilemma - Should I leave or should I stay?

Posted: 2016-09-20

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by Ramkumar Shivanuja

Edited by Shibani Pandya


 

Mothers play a large part in the development of a child and, hence, the nurturing of the next generation, making them important contributors to a society’s prosperity.

Many countries, recognising this importance of maternal figures, employ a combination of measures to ensure that new mothers get as much support as possible from the government. Most nations employ paid maternity leave as the cornerstone of their maternity policy, with the notable exceptions of Swaziland, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and the United States1. According to the ILO, a number of countries such as Germany, the UK and even Singapore also offer, in addition to paid maternity leave, perks such as paternal and/or shared parental leave and monetary benefits to aid in the cost of raising a child.

Sweden, in particular, emerges as one of the best countries in the world for maternity benefits, with a total of 480 days of paid parental leave, during which 80% of the parents’ wages are paid by the government. Expectant mothers can also expect prenatal care in the form of free or subsidised courses to aid in preparing for delivery2.

Conversely, there are still countries in the world with lacklustre maternity leave policies. Particularly, the United States, which according to President Barack Obama, remains “the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee…paid maternity leave to (their) workers”. The U.S. offers a meagre 12 weeks of unpaid leave, where the only benefit mothers receive is job security. Even then, the policy is subject to a multitude of conditions, resulting in only a small fraction of new mothers being eligible to obtain such federally mandated leave. Many mothers are left to rely on state support, the extent of which varies from state to state, or the maternity benefits possibly provided by their places of employment1.

Citation, a British employment law compliance firm has released an infographic comparing the maternity and paternity leave benefits of a number of countries, showing that Central European countries especially rank among the highest for government-mandated paid maternity leave, with most of Europe providing approximately an entire year of paid maternity leave. While Singapore’s 16 weeks of paid maternity leave3 might not seem as attractive, Singapore does boast a large variety of other benefit schemes.

The Marriage and Parenthood Schemes act as an umbrella for all of Singapore’s government supported maternity initiatives, ranging from the Medisave Maternity Package, providing assistance in pregnancy-related medical expenses4, to the Baby Bonus scheme, aiming to lighten the financial costs of having children5.

Unfortunately, there is still an existing stigma about hiring women, as it is believed that maternity leave measures hinder the economic development of a company. It is crucial that in this day and age, companies look into not just the short-term private costs of maternity benefits and leave but the long- term benefits that achieving good work-life balance can have on worker productivity and society’s welfare in general.

 


 

1 http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/22/maternity-leaves- around-the- world_n_1536120.html

2 https://sweden.se/society/10-things- that-make- sweden-family- friendly/

3 http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/leave/maternity- leave/eligibility-and- entitlement

4 https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/costs_and_financing/schemes_subsidies/Marriage_and_Parenthood_Schemes.html

5https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/costs_and_financing/schemes_subsidies/Marriage_and_Parenthood_Schemes.html



Modern Maladies for Modern Men

Posted: 2016-09-20

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Written by Leah Devaney

Edited by Madhurya Manohar


 

Historically, gender roles have been rigidly defined through the influences of society and religion on people’s lives. While women have been homemakers, wives and mothers, men have always been present in the public sphere, supporting the family and the nation as ‘breadwinners’. The rise of feminism in the latter half of the twentieth century, however, has led to a slow but definite breakdown in the traditional roles assigned to women and men. With this has come the fundamental question of what it really means to be male in the modern world.

 

In 1938, the comic book character Superman was created and typified what it meant to be masculine. For a generation of boys, masculinity now meant being strong, honourable, valiant and courageous - able to rescue the damsel and defeat the bad guy in one fell swoop. While the world, thanks to conflict as much as innovation and progress, has changed dramatically in the eighty years since Superman first swept into the popular conscience, in many ways the idea of what it means to be masculine is still entrenched in the ‘superman’ mould. Thanks to the rise of social media, and the proliferation of popular culture in people’s lives, young men and boys confront daily an image of masculinity, which for most, will be unattainable.

 

Once, in the decades before mass and social media, young men would have found the majority of their role models in those around them; fathers, brothers and friends. Thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades the public conscience is suddenly awash with specimens of perfect masculinity and their little secrets for how to achieve perfection. Magazines, advertising campaigns and websites splash images of half-naked men, and women, to the public and sell a lifestyle that, while undoubtedly undesirable, is completely unachievable. They sell a narrative that tells normal people that they can be physically perfect if they’re just willing to work hard enough, even though ‘physical perfection’ is something that can only be achieved if you are willing to dedicate your whole life to it. Take, for example, David Beckham’s underwear campaign for H&M. Beckham, a former sportsman, has always, and will always, rely on his physical prowess above and beyond anything else to keep himself in the public eye.  Another example is the 21st century’s Superman. In the modern world, fiction and reality have become so intertwined in the public conscience that it can be difficult to differentiate between them. British actor Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, now represents the unachievable pinnacle of masculinity. He has a body many are envious of, and his constant magazine covers and Instagram feed make sure that his physical perfection is kept in the public eye. Women swoon over his perfectly formed muscles and men rush to the gym to try to emulate them. No matter that this is a man who is paid to look a certain way, or that he puts countless hours into a grueling fitness regime that would be impossible to maintain long-term, because all people ever see are the enviable results of all that work.

 

Recently, Barack Obama wrote an article for Glamour Magazine about his own feminist education and how it has influenced his roles as a husband, father and the leader of the free world. He speaks of how, growing up without a father, he struggled to figure out how to become a man and how ‘it’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man.’ In a way, the current generation of young men and boys are growing up in the same way that Obama did, without their fathers as the primary role model in their lives. While they may be physically there, this generation no longer looks to the people they know to tell them how to behave; instead, they look to the countless examples of masculinity presented through popular culture and social media.

 

Celebrity and social media don’t just portray an image of physical male perfection. They also play to the traditional male perception of emotional and mental strength which is perpetuated everywhere in the modern world. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase ‘be a man’ or ‘man up’ directed at someone who appears to be acting in an over-emotional manner. While these words might seem encouraging, they are really couched in negative stigma. To ‘be a man’ means to not show emotions or weakness, to be strong and successful no matter what life throws at you. The perception that men are not allowed to show their feelings, or be anything other than traditionally ‘masculine’ has led to a sharp rise in male mental health issues. Male suicide rates across much of the world are startlingly high; in the USA male to female suicide rates currently stand at 3:1, almost 3/4 of the suicide cases reported in New Zealand in 2014-15 among the young male population. In 2013, the suicide rate among young males in the UK was at its highest in over a decade, and in the last decade the number of men committing suicide in Singapore has risen by 30%. Some researchers have linked this to what is being termed ‘social perfectionism’, the stress put on men by what they perceive society expects of them. If the modern world puts out an image of traditional ‘masculinity’ as inherently desirable then many men will believe that this is what they should adhere to. Not only does this encourage them to strive for physical perfection that may be completely unachievable, it also dissuades them from seeking help or sharing their problems because there is an inherent societal belief that men do not talk about their emotions.

 

While there are male role models out there who still portray the facade of the strong and stoic male, there has been, in recent years, a rise in the number of men speaking out about their own mental health issues, and encouraging others to do the same. Celebrities such as Prince Harry, Jared Padalecki, Jim Carrey and even the epitome of masculinity, Dwayne Johnson, have spoken out in recent years about their own struggles with mental health issues, and are helping to break down barriers for everyone who looks up to them. Social media has, in recent years, become an invaluable tool for celebrities and role models to get their message out into the world, avoiding the often-twisted coverage presented by media outlets. The wildly popular blog ‘Humans of New York’ ran a campaign to present the stories of veterans in the USA who returned from war scarred with what the page is calling ‘Invisible Wounds’. Alone, all these steps might seem like little things, but put together, they represent hope that the attitude towards male mental and emotional health, at least in the popular conscience, might be changing.  

 

The newest wave of feminism emphasizes equality between the genders above everything else. Currently, society expects men, and women, to act a certain way, and often punishes those who do not. Whereas women often share these experiences, the very societal pressures on men ensure that they keep quiet. If gender equality and a rising crisis in male mental health is to be successfully addressed, this is something that needs to be tackled.




 

References

http://www.glamour.com/story/glamour-exclusive-president-barack-obama-says-this-is-what-a-feminist-looks-like

http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/henry-cavill-man-of-steel-gq-cover-interview

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_differences_in_suicide

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/19/we-have-to-start-talking-about-it-new-zealand-suicide-rates-hit-record-high

http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/seven-out-of-10-people-who-committed-suicide-last-year-were-men-samaritans-of

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/suicide-rates-men-gender-issue

http://mosaicscience.com/story/male-suicide

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2016/aug/14/why-be-a-man-is-a-dangerous-phrase?INTCMP=sfl

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/male-celebrities-mental-health_us_5761b5a7e4b0df4d586f0cbe

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/health/11-famous-fellas-who-want-men-to-talk-about-mental-health/limmy/

http://www.humansofnewyork.com





PI 2016 - Volunteer Callout

Posted: 2016-09-20

We are pleased to announce our latest volunteer call-out to join Project Inspire 2016 Grand Final Week. We are seeking highly motivated and driven individuals to join one or more of the volunteer teams listed below. 

A joint initiative by the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard, Project Inspire is a social entrepreneurship challenge for youth to pitch their inspired ideas that empower women and girls in Asia Pacific. Up to 20 semi-finalists will be selected to go through a crowdfunding stage, with up to ten finalists winning an all-expenses-paid trip to Singapore in November, 2016 for the Grand Finals. Finalists will also receive exclusive boot-camp, mentoring sessions, and the opportunity to be awarded grants. #ProjInspire


 

Task Force

Task Force members will help out in our office on a part-time basis during business hours Mon-Fri in the lead up to Project Inspire Grand Final Week.

Role: General / Ad-hoc / Social Media
Description: Support the team 2-3 times/week leading up to the Project Inspire Grand Final Week (24th November 2016) with ad-hoc tasks, administration, and social media content.
Commitment: Ad-hoc on as-needed basis leading up to Grand Final day

Project Inspire Grand Final Week Crew

Role: Event Photographer x 3
Description: Help us capture the exciting moments during the Project Inspire Grand Final Week!
Commitment: Flexible arrangement based on event schedule, 21st – 24th November, 2016

Role: Usher x 4
Description: This year the Project Inspire Grand Finals will be held at a much larger venue so we’ll need some extra support from ushers to help manage the flow of the event.
Commitment: 24th November, 2016, 4:00pm – 8:00pm

Role: Registration x 4
Description: We need help at the registration counter to welcome guests and make sure everyone is registered.  
Commitment: 24th November, 2016. 4pm – 8:00pm

Role: Set up x 4
Description: Ad-hoc help needed to set up everything for the Project Inspire Grand Final. Please note that this position requires some physical activity and may not be suitable for people who have any injuries or other restrictions.
Commitment: 24th November, 2016, 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Role: Pack down x 4
Description: Ad-hoc help needed to pack everything up for the Project Inspire Grand Final. Please note that this position requires some physical activity and may not be suitable for people who have any injuries or other restrictions.
Commitment: 24th November, 2016, 8:00pm – 9:30pm

We hope you will apply to join the Project Inspire volunteer team. Please do not hesitate to email singsuen.soon@unifem.org.sg if you have any questions or concerns. As always, thank you for your continued support! 


 

Apply now here.
Deadline to apply: 1 November 12:00am. 
To be eligible, interviews may be conducted.



She Calls Me Papa - A piece exploring why fathers are important role models for girls

Posted: 2016-08-29

 

She Calls Me Papa

A piece exploring why fathers are important role models for girls

Written by: Ananya Pandit Bajla

Edited by: Madhurya Manohar


 

Although we have read a lot about fathers playing a critical role in their sons’ lives, much of what daughters learn about life also come from their fathers. It is little known that a father-daughter bond is also a key determinant of whether or not girls grow up to be happy and healthy individuals. In light of UN Women’s HeForShe Campaign, let us reflect on why it is impossible to overestimate the importance of a father as a primary loving role model in a girl’s life.

He Affects her Interaction with Men:

A girl’s primary relationship with her father affects her relations with her lover or spouse. From infancy, she draws conclusions about ‘Men’ from the way her father treats her mother. She acutely observes her parents’ bond and defines her own relationship template based on what she learns. When those learnings are positive, she is more likely to gravitate towards men that treat her with the same form of respect and fulfil her emotionally. When those learnings are conflicted, she may fall prey to the wrong type of men, have troubled relationships or even develop trust issues with the right companion.

He sets down a Blueprint for living:

Not only does a father provide a sense of security and stability in his daughter’s life, his attitude towards life teaches her more than we realize. Through his words, his ability to express emotions and his approach to work, he plays a formative role in developing her behavioural traits, for better or for worse. Fathers chart out a blueprint of life for their daughters in the way they treat other people, spend their time and handle the vicissitudes of life.

He is central to her Emotional Well Being:

University of Oxford researchers have found that girls with more involved fathers were less likely to face mental health problems in life. Well-fathered daughters are less likely to become clinically depressed and that a strong father-daughter bond impacts the daughter’s emotional well-being in myriad ways. Poorly fathered daughters tend to be oversensitive and overly reactive, when confronted with stress. As a consequence of weak emotional and mental health, these women tend to have less fulfilling relationships with their friends and family.

He impacts her Career Path:

Positive fathering produces well adjusted, confident and successful daughters. Distinct gestures such as witnessing her participation on a school sports day or advising her on a college degree contributes to vital decision-making skills that shape her career choices. Studies evidencing the same have concluded that these women are more likely to graduate from college and enter into high paying jobs, traditionally held by their male counterparts. Genuine praise and admiration from a father can help a girl grow up to be a financially independent woman.

He propels the right Body Image:

Fathers can be ‘body positive’ role models for their daughters by incorporating the right lifestyle behavior and attitude. Verbal assurances and a warm hug can encourage girls to adopt a healthy regimen that keeps the pressure to “look perfect” at bay. Fathers can spend quality time with daughters and teach them to focus on personality and thoughts rather than just their appearance. This is especially critical to her self-esteem and body image. 

 

What all this means for a father or a father figure is that he counts. He counts A LOT. So Dear Dads, remember – while a mother-daughter bond is unique it is NO substitute for a father-daughter relationship. You’re the first man who features prominently in your daughter’s existence. Be a man of integrity, a man who keeps his word and follows through with his promises; and most importantly the man who loves her mother – and you will do far more than to prepare her to meet the challenges of life.



Musical Agender

Posted: 2016-08-01

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Musical Agender

Written by Beverly Wee

Edited by Madhurya Manohar


 

Here are our handpicked songs for 2016!

In no particular order nor merit, we present:

1. Just One of The Guys –Jenny Lewis

2. Just a Girl –No Doubt

3. Been a Son –Nirvana

4. Androgynous –Miley Cyrus feat. 5. Joan Jett & Laura Jane Grace

6. Independent Women –Destiny’s Child / Run The World- Beyoncé

7. Yellow Flicker Beat –Lorde

8. Unwritten –Natasha Bedingfield

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https://youtu.be/Irvcf6dCk-k

1. Just One of the Guys- Jenny Lewis

In her latest solo album, The Voyager, Lewis imbued many feminist elements. Her top single, “Just One of The Guys”, was notably fronted by her famous Hollywood friends Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart and Brie Larson with the goal of eliminating gender norms. The track both highlights the double standards faced by women in the music and film industry and encourages its female audience to be more comfortable with their womanhood and themselves no matter their age.

 

https://youtu.be/PHzOOQfhPFg

2. Just a Girl –No Doubt

Gwen Stefani was the feminist icon of the 90s. She took a stand for teenage girls worldwide when she explicitly expressed the unfair standards women are subjected to. Her celebrity status gave feminism a platform and her music video showcased the inadequate expectations and confinement women face. This is evident from lyrics such as "Don't you think I know / Exactly where I stand? / This world is forcing me / To hold your hand." She explained the root of the song in an interview for BAM Magazine:

“I wrote that because my dad got mad at me for going to Tony [Kanal, No Doubt bassist]'s house and driving home late at night. I mean, c'mon, I'm, like, going on 30 here! I wouldn't trade [being female], but I really don't think guys understand what a burden it can be sometimes.”

 

https://youtu.be/YLrfVAdYuTY

3. Been a Son –Nirvana

Unknown to many, the late Kurt Cobain was a feminist. Unlike his son, Kurt claimed that his dad wanted a son instead of his daughter. One memorable quote by him, "I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they're out there and it really bothers me.”Cobain was also supportive of his wife’s feminist band, Hole.

 

https://youtu.be/ZR6mM_zfxwE

4. Androgynous– Miley Cyrus feat. 5. Joan Jett & Laura Jane Grace

The song is performed by a trio of renowned feminists: Joan Jett, Laura Jane Grace and Miley Cyrus. While Joan is a game changer in rock and roll history, Laura Jane is an advocate for transgender woman and Miley Cyrus, the founder of Happy Hippie Foundation, a non-profit organization for the homeless and LGBTQ young people.

As a significant figure in rock and roll history, Joan Jett strived to make the difference, especially because during her time “...there was no support for girls in rock and roll...” She paved the way for girls and their freedom of expression so that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be. Defying stereotypes and challenging traditional mindsets, Jett was the first female artist to own and control an independent record company and receive the Golden God title at the Golden Gods Awards in 2014, joining previous honorees Motorhead, Gene Simmons and Alice Cooper.

Miley Cyrus, on the other hand, has openly stated that she refuses to define her own sexuality:

“I’m not hiding my sexuality. For me, I don’t want to label myself as anything… There are times in my life where I’ve had boyfriends or girlfriends.”

 

https://youtu.be/0lPQZni7I18

https://youtu.be/VBmMU_iwe6U

5. Independent Women –Destiny’s Child / Run The World- Beyoncé

This name hardly needs an introduction. Her vocal prowess and music have enthralled people of all ages. From Destiny Child’s ‘Independent Women’ to ‘Run The World’. Beyoncé has definitely been the constant figure of women empowerment.

She once said, “I always considered myself a feminist, although I was always afraid of that word because people put so much on it, when honestly it’s very simple. It’s just a person that believes in equality for men and women. Men and women balance each other out, and we have to get to a point where we are comfortable with appreciating each other.”

 

https://youtu.be/3PdILZ_1P74

6. Yellow Flicker Beat –Lorde

An anthem for Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games, Lorde said in an interview with iconic feminist Lena Dunham, “There’s this bit about locking up everybody who’d ever laid a finger on me. A lot of people have told me that line tapped into something specific in them, because I think every woman knows that feeling.”

 

https://youtu.be/b7k0a5hYnSI

7. Unwritten –Natasha Bedingfield

"I break tradition. / Sometimes my tries are outside the lines. / We've been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can't live that way."

For the perceptive, you may have noticed that the lyrics by Bedingfield essentially encourage women to break out of the ordinary and be who they truly are, to empower themselves with positive energy and not let the chains of society hold them back.

Natasha Bedingfield told Seventeen magazine that this song is about "just not worrying." She explained: "I really started to have dreams for myself when I was 17, but I was always afraid people were going to laugh at me. I finally just said, 'Alright. I'm going to write songs, even if they're bad. I'm just going to keep writing until I get good.'

 



Bastian van Halder for Gender Equality

Posted: 2016-08-01

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Bastian van Halder for Gender Equality

We need to ensure that the message of gender equality is a global message – Bastian van Halder, Director at JLL Asia Pacific

By Lydia Leoh


 

Earlier this year in April, Singapore Committee for UN Women hosted the inaugural HeForShe Impact Awards Luncheon. A UN initiative aimed at promoting gender equality worldwide, HeForShe hopes to encourage males to become agents of change in achieving women’s rights and gender equality.

Bastian was nominated for the Husband/Partner of the Year award by his wife, Casheen, for leaving his job to support her career move to Singapore, as well as doing his part in helping to raise the children.

In a society where mothers are held up as the more nurturing and loving figure, Bastian believes that the role of nurturer can be fulfilled equally well by men.  “Each parent has a crucial role to play in a child’s development. I believe men can be as nurturing as women.”

However, this particular school of thought might be changing, if the growing number of men staying home to take care of their kids are to be believed. But there are many other traditional gender stereotypes that need to be broken down.

Asked about his first memory or experience with gender inequality, Bastian mentioned “when growing up, the media, toy industry and other influencers promoted a clear division between boys and girls when it came to television programs, toys, sports and other such activities.” This is a stereotype that many, if not all, of us have experienced for ourselves.

Perhaps some of you might think, “They are just toys. What is the big deal?” But research has shown that gender-specific toys has implications on children’s learning and development. Masculine toys were associated with large motor development and spatial skills, while feminine toys were associated with fine motor development, language development as well as social skills. In a bid to fight this stereotype, companies such as WalMart and Target have pledged to moderate any gender-specific children marketing strategies and remove gender-based labelling in certain children’s aisles.

The fight is far from over. In fact, it has probably just begun. More governments are beginning to sit up and take notice of the clamour. More global leaders are placing greater emphasis on gender equality, with one notable example being Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who made waves with his insistence on a gender-balanced cabinet.

“We should .. start recognizing and rewarding people on merit, not just based on background, education or other factors that we use to segment people”, agrees Bastian. The gender gap still remains in workplaces all over the world, however, and is yet another obstacle in the fight for gender equality.

“Attitudes are changing but we still have a long way to go. It is therefore more important than ever to spread the message of gender equality.”





It's that time of the year again! SNOW 2016 Volunteer Call Out :)

Posted: 2016-07-22

We are pleased to announce our latest volunteer call-out to join our dynamic team of 2016 SNOW Gala volunteers. We are seeking highly motivated and driven individuals to join one or more of the volunteer teams listed below. 


 
I. Gala Volunteer Team

Volunteers will assist at the gala itself on Saturday, September 24. These volunteers must be available for:

  1. Interview, to be scheduled for week of August 8 at our offices (Tanglin International Centre) upon receiving your application.  
  2. First mandatory training
    1. Monday, September 5: Table Concierge Team Training at our offices from 7pm-9pm 
    2. Tuesday, September 6: Raffle Team training at our offices from 7pm-9pm 
    3. Wednesday, September 7: Auction Team training at our offices from 7pm-9pm 
    4. Thursday, September 8: Registration Team at our offices from 7pm-9pm 
  3. Second mandatory training: in form of a quiz and role-play activities
    1. Deadline to submit quiz answers is August 26
    2. Role-play activities (for Table Concierges, Auction, and Raffle Teams)-- Choose EITHER day:
      1. September 15 from 7pm-9:30pm
      2. September 17 from 10am-12:30pm 
  4. Third mandatory training: for Table Concierges and Auction teams only 
    1. Week of September 19 (date TBD): Venue walk through/demonstration from 7pm-9pm at Capella Sentosa. 
  5. At the Gala itself: Saturday, September 24 at Capella Sentosa (all teams)
    1. Registration, Auction, and Raffle teams: 3:00pm to 12:30am (dinner will be provided, pickup from City Hall MRT and Harbourfront MRT at 3:00pm, and drop off at Toa Payoh, Paya Lebar, Dhoby Ghaut, Jurong East at 12:30am will be arranged.)
    2. Table Concierge and Cashier teams:  4:30pm to 12:30am (dinner will be provided, pickup from City Hall MRT and Harbourfront MRT at 4:30pm, and drop off at Toa Payoh, Paya Lebar, Dhoby Ghaut, Jurong East at 12:30am will be arranged. 

*Instructions and confirmation details on how to join the trainings will be sent upon your confirmation as a volunteer.

To be a SNOW GALA VOLUNTEER apply here

 


 
II. SNOW Task Force

Task Force members will help out in our office on a part-time basis during business hours Mon-Fri in the lead up to the gala, but not during the gala itself. Task Force members must be available:

  1. Part time Mon-Fri anytime between 9am-7pm (hours flexible)
  2. Mandatory on-site volunteer sessions either at Capella Hotel or at the UN Women office from September 19 to September 24. Shifts:
    1. Either full day 8:30am to 6:30pm 
    2. or AM Half Day 8:30am to 1:30pm 
    3. or PM Half Day 1:30pm to 6:30pm
  3. Confirmation details on exact days will be confirmed closer to the date.

To join the TASK FORCE email volunteer@unifem.org.sg

 


 
III. SNOW Gala After Hours Crew

After hours crew play a pivotal role in the operations of the SNOW Gala. Crew Members will help out during the gala with logistics, and assist in the venue wrap up. 

  1. Saturday, September 24 from 9pm-1:30am (snacks and shared taxi from Harbourfront MRT will be arranged. Transport home via shared taxi will also be provided.) 

To join the AFTER HOURS CREW email volunteer@unifem.org.sg

 


We hope you will apply to join the SNOW volunteer team. Please do not hesitate to email  volunteer@unifem.org.sg if you have any questions or concerns. As always, thank you for your continued support! 


Deadline to apply : 7 Aug 12:00am.
To be eligible, attendance to ALL trainings is mandatory.

ABOUT THE SNOW GALA
Each year the Say No to the Oppression of Women (SNOW) Gala brings together socially engaged business executives, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists for an unforgettable evening of glamour, gastronomy and goodwill in support of women and girls’ empowerment in Singapore and the region. 
It’s a fantastic opportunity to mix among inspirational people from different walks of life across Singapore and Asia, while meeting like-minded professionals. The SNOW gala benefit has raised over $2 million to date to support the critical work of Singapore Committee for UN Women in stopping oppression and violence towards women at home and abroad.

 

 



Getting the Down-low on Startup Lingo

Posted: 2016-07-04

Getting the Down-low on Startup Lingo

By Shi Wen Yeo

Edited by Shibani Pandya & Amra Naidoo

 


 

 

On the 27th & 28th May 2016, students aged 14-18 came together for Project Aspire’s Social Impact jam to learn about social entrepreneurship and gender equality. Over the next two months, the students will go through workshops and be guided by mentors who will assist the students bring their inspired ideas to life!

 

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The next day, Jamie from muru-D introduced the “lean startup”, or how to make a social enterprise successful. He recommended that participants be willing to fail and learn from it (or as he put it, “FLEARN”) and have a willingness to break rules. Muru-D is a startup accelerator backed by Telstra. An accelerator is a program that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground through mentorship, education and sometimes funding too.  

 

In this workshop by muru-D, participants learnt how to get their ideas off the ground by constructing a landing page and helping it gain traction. They learnt that a pitch is a simple clear message meant to inform others and communicate their intent. Jamie shared with the participants the importance of being able to confront failure, which is the harsh reality of many social enterprises. The phrase “FLEARN” is a combination of “Failure” and “Learn” and is a reminder for participants to persevere in the face of failure, or to pivot away from ideas that would not work. Failure is a necessary step to success and a business project needs to learn from its failures to succeed. Participants left encouraged by this segment and were excited to begin working on their own projects.

 

In the lead up to Showcase Day, students participating in Project Aspire will be attending workshops to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of their ideas. Save Showcase Day in your calendar! On 16th July 2016, the stuents will present their inspire ideas to a panel of judges, parents, and the general public.

 

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Project Aspire is organised by Singapore Committee for UN Women, powered by the National Youth Council, Singapore and with thanks to supporting partner, muru-D Singapore.

 

Special thanks to muru-D Singapore, IDEO Singapore, the Change Leader Academy, Bettr Barista Coffee Academy & The Nail Social for conducting the workshops and mentoring the students over the weekend.

 



Childrens Books That Challenge Gender Norms

Posted: 2016-07-01

 

by Fabiola Perez


 

Although humanity has come a long way on the path to gender equality, gender norms are still pervasive in today’s modern age, and can be harmful to both genders. Due to institutional and societal pressures, women are frequently deterred from pursuing demanding careers in leadership or STEM fields, while men are often judged for working in more “emotional,” female-dominated fields such as nursing or homemaking. Although these gender inequalities affect adults, they are perpetuated as early as birth. From a young age, children are taught by society that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls. As innocuous as these suggestions may seem, they play a big role in the gender inequalities that plague our current society. Given the influence that books can hold on young kids, reading children’s books that challenge these norms can help kids realise they can follow their passion regardless of gender. Below is a set of books that you can read your child to help future generations move one step closer to gender equality.

 

  1. Sleeping Bobby by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Giselle Potter —This quick read is based on the Grimm retelling of the classic fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty.” It follows a prince named Bob who is cursed with a deep sleep on the eve of his 18th birthday, and the brave and lovely princess who sets out to rescue him. Fans of the original will love this witty role-reversal.

  2. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts—This book is perfect for young girls interested in the STEM fields. It tells the story of young Rosie Revere, who is mocked for designing quirky gadgets. When her great-great aunt tells Rosie that her dream is to fly, Rosie sets out to make her dream come true.

  3. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko— Our modern perception of fairy tales generally involves a dashing prince saving a beautiful princess from an evil dragon, and the two of them living happily ever after. This isn’t quite the case in this picture book, where a handsome and rather narcissistic prince is captured by a dragon. The dragon burns off the princess’ expensive clothes, so she puts on a paper bag and sets off to rescue her prince. When she tricks the dragon into setting the prince free, he mocks her clothes and tells her to come back when she looks like a real princess. Ultimately, the princess realizes she doesn’t need a prince to live out her happily ever after.

  4. William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by William Pene du Bois—This 1972 classic children’s book tells the story of a boy named William, who longs for a doll despite his father’s attempts to interest him in toys considered appropriate for boys. Finally, his grandmother buys William a doll, explaining that she believes it will help him learn to be a great father one day.

 



Can Women Have It All? Let’s stop asking!

Posted: 2016-07-01

Can Women Have It All? Let’s stop asking!

by Shreelekha Mandal

Edited by: Shibani Pandya


 

At 30, I suddenly find myself inching towards a junction where my career and private life diverge. Perplexed by this, I reached out to 5 women in my life and asked them – is having it all still a relevant question for women? Interestingly, I received viewpoints that were truly varied across the spectrum – starting with the definition of ‘all’ itself, to the re-positioning of the question to include men in this conversation.

Laura Miolla, divorced with two kids, is a life coach in the US. While married, she was the primary breadwinner, but did all the work at home as well. She shares, “I think there was a vision in the 70’s about how women should be stepping into male dominated roles, but it never clarified that we had to let go of something to do that. It set us up for failure. When does someone ask a man, ‘Can you have it all?’ Even if they did, a man would answer ‘yes!’. Their definition of having it all was a great career, and a partner to pick up the pieces at home. Why did we then, interpret that question as having to DO it all?”

Ashley Magargee, an American senior executive in Singapore, paints a different picture. “It was a valid question for women when we had to assume domestic responsibilities, but it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant for women alone. I think now the question is, because there are fewer boundaries between work and life, how will you become a good parent? Regardless of gender.”

Yet another colleague, an executive at Google Singapore, shares her views with positivity and enthusiasm. “Absolutely, we can!” she claims with determination. “We just need to define for ourselves what ALL means.  Culture is also a big part of it. There is room for change here in Singapore, to be even more open.”

To get that Singaporean perspective, I interviewed Angeline, a mother who is also driven to succeed in her career. “I think in Singapore, we are quite unique – we are modern, but still very Asian. What’s important is to overcome unconscious biases, which still exist. When women are seen as ambitious, it’s not a positive thing. It may be played off as a joke, but there is a negative bias behind that joke.”

Another local colleague, Jasmine – a Singaporean senior level executive who recently decided to spend time at home and stop working – takes a more gender-neutral stance. “I don’t like that question, because it creates more division. We cannot keep forcing the discussion in one direction. At the end of the day, it’s about whether we have options to balance careers and families and that’s what we should move the discussion towards.”

Perhaps that was the answer I was looking for. I am inspired by Jasmine sharing this perspective, despite currently having to take a step back – it shows that her vision of ‘all’ is her own, and that it should be personal for everyone. In fact, I can’t help but feel that our definition of being able to have it ‘all’ is entirely driven by our own experiences and aspirations of personal life, society and culture.

Sometimes, it is our surroundings that determine what trade-offs we are willing to make; whether our partners are willing to pick up the pieces at home when we simply can’t, and if we have been lucky enough to have that conversation before a lifelong commitment. And yet sometimes, our personal environment may suit a balanced work and life, but our cultural norms don’t allow for women to easily pursue a career without looking like she is sacrificing her ‘womanhood’. Being of Indian origin, I only know that too well from years of observing friends and family.

My own life partner, who’s trying to balance a career at a big consulting firm, but also dreams of having a happy family life, sums it up in his own way, “I’m constantly worried about having it ‘all’,” he says. “I see partners at my firm who have been divorced once or twice and finally settled into family life while being senior level executives, but what did they have to give up to get there? I think the question needs to be broader – it now reflects an imbalance in work and life for both women and men. It’s a question that society needs to ask corporates, to question our work culture.”

So there it is – this is perhaps still a relevant question, but now for ALL of us. The 70’s are gone, and we finally have the privilege to start working as partners, men and women, to have it all. Let’s hope that companies keep listening, and start advancing even further into the right direction.


 

The author has lived and worked in North America, Europe & Asia. She is a freelance writer, currently in Singapore.



Child-Free By Choice

Posted: 2016-07-01

 

Child-Free By Choice

By Leah Devaney

Edited by Shibani Pandya


 

Over the centuries, having children and managing the domestic sphere has been the primary role of women within the global community. In some parts of the world, however, there has been a slow but important attitude shift in the last few decades that has seen women move out of the domestic sphere and into the public. Women in some parts of the world can now access education on par with their male peers, compete for jobs and fulfil ambitions which once would fallen within the domain of men. In many ways, the role of women in the world has changed but, despite all these advances, women are often still viewed as wives and mothers above everything else even if they are unmarried or childless. This begs the question: is motherhood any more of a choice than it was in the last century or the one before that? Of course, women are now much more capable of and able to choose when to have children, but are they any more empowered to decide if they have them at all?

 

For some women, motherhood is a gift and a joy that they plan meticulously for and revel in. For others it is a role they crave but cannot realise. For some women, motherhood is simply for other people. There are several reasons why a woman might not want children, but it can often still be almost a dirty secret to admit it. Even if a woman has risen to the top of her chosen career, or has fulfilled every dream she has ever had, or has simply just found happiness in life, society still presumes that she is not complete without a child.

 

As a 20-something woman I have had to sit through many family gatherings where relatives I have not seen in years come up to me and ask when I’m going to get married and have children. I’ve always known that I can go to University, support myself and make my own way in the world. But somehow I’ve also always known that I’ll probably have children one day. What I’ve never done is asked myself if I actually want children. For a young woman, growing up in a culture saturated with the idea that the pinnacle of womanliness is domesticity, the idea that there is anything other than this in the future is thoroughly alien. Everywhere you look, in popular and celebrity culture, women never seem happy until they have a nice man and a few nice kids. Across film and tv today female characters are constantly met with the challenge of juggling motherhood with a successful career, or with a social life, or with saving the world. When they choose the latter they are often depicted as sad or damaged or somehow just less than what they should be. Take Homeland’s Carrie Matheson as a prime example. A well-developed female intelligence officer is something the world needs a lot more of, but she spends the majority of her time feeling guilty about leaving her family, and being slightly unhinged. I’ve never seen James Bond or Jason Bourne react to saving the world like this. So, why can saving the world never be enough for Carrie when it always is for her male counterparts. If you take examples from the real world you will always find countless women who are genuinely happy living without children. These women will often be at the receiving end of confusion, incredulity or even outright anger1.

 

The rise of contraception and the morning after pill has lead to increasing acceptance of the fact that a woman, rightly, should have control over her own body, and yet, when it comes to children, a woman who decides to remain child-free is seen as selfish, or vain. Some women will choose to ignore this criticism. Others might cave to the pressure and, to please others, have the children they never really wanted2. Some will be glad that they did, others might regret the decision for the rest of their lives.

 


 

1Popular culture is awash with people incredulous at the fact that some women remain childless. The former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gallard was sneered at for being “barren” whilst in office, never mind the fact that she was one of the most powerful women in the world, and there is no lack of celebrity magazines lamenting over poor, childless Jennifer Aniston or lonely and alone Cameron Diaz. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/9847642/Helen-Mirren-confronts-the-final-female-taboo.html

2 There has been a recent rise in the ‘confessions’ of women online who had children and have lived to regret, in some way or another, that decision: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/09/love-regret-mothers-wish-never-had-children-motherhood

 

 



Fostering Male Bonds: From Fathers To Sons

Posted: 2016-07-01

 

Fostering Male Bonds: From Fathers To Sons

By Delia Toh

Edited by Shibani Pandya


In his book Man Enough Frank S. Pitman narrated the story of a friend Gym whose father had imbued in him a very stringent ideal of masculinity. According to the father, “real men” were not allowed to be vulnerable and did not “let their wives control them”. Gym’s father had cheated on his mother with three other women. Having spent years conforming to the precedent set by his father, Gym was miserable because of his exaggerated masculinity1. Unfortunately, this could also be the story of many men today who are struggling to meet unattainable, unhealthy standards related to masculinity.

This example also demonstrates the important role fathers play in their sons’ lives. “Daddy’s girls”, i.e. daughters who are doted on and spoiled by their fathers, form a popular trope in today’s culture. However, just as fathers play a very important role in inspiring their daughters, fathers are also crucial in their sons’ emotional development.

To explore the role of fathers in shaping their sons’ outlook on masculinity, we must first define what “toxic masculinity” is. When the standards for masculinity become overly rigid, discourage men from expressing themselves in healthy ways and encourage violent behaviour, masculinity crosses the line to become “toxic”. Toxic masculinity manifests itself in the lives of men every day. Men are actively discouraged from articulating emotions such as sadness and affection and instead are encouraged to express anger and hyper sexuality. Therefore, male victims of abuse, violence or exploitation are often silenced and ignored by society. To further illustrate this, The Ministry of Social and Family Development revealed in a report in 2009 that 18% of domestic violence reports were filed by men2. While male victims appear to make up a minority, it is crucial to acknowledge the fact that men can experience abuse as well.

In addition to this, men feel societal pressure to only pursue hobbies that are seen as masculine, such as sports and drinking. This not only harms the men who are made to uphold this rigid dynamic, but also hurts women and non-conforming men when toxic masculinity manifests itself as violence against the non-masculine. The mass shooting committed by Elliot Rodger was fuelled by his extreme opinions about male-female dynamics when he felt that his masculinity was threatened when girls rejected him. More recently, former Stanford swimmer sexually assaulted a graduate who was unconscious because he had, in the words of his victim3, felt like he had to ‘hook up’ that day. His father was a frighteningly precise example of a poor role model for his son as he had tried to downplay his own son’s actions, calling it merely “20 minutes of action” rather than a serious crime and called for leniency for his son despite the nature of the crime.

This is not to say that masculinity is inherently wrong or hurtful. When interpreted and applied in a constructive way, conventional masculinity is a force that can be used to build both men and women. Inner strength, which is a traditionally masculine characteristic, is a very important asset to have for both men and women. When one learns how to handle the ups and downs in life in a resilient manner, this can build character. Additionally, a strong sense of responsibility can help one protect at risk members of society.

This is where fathers step in. A father is a young man’s first contact with the idea of masculinity. An increase in the number of days of paternity leave4 encourages fathers to be actively involved in parenthood, which would gradually broaden the role of a man within a family as more than a financial provider. It also sends an important cultural message regarding the importance of fathers in the family, making it crucial for society to encourage the implementation of paternity leave. Additionally, how a father relates to his son emotionally can also shape the latter’s ability to express his feelings in a healthy way. Psychological studies have shown that young men with missing father figures have difficulty handling disappointment and anguish and are less likely to able to form meaningful relationships5. Additionally, they are also more likely to commit crimes5. A good fatherly figure in a young man’s life can teach young men to be more secure in their manhood. Fathers can set an example in dealing with the challenges in life and managing their negative emotions. Finally, young men watch their fathers demonstrate commitment, self-sacrifice and compassion, especially towards their loved ones6.

Just as fathers have the power to bring up kind, compassionate yet strong daughters, they can do the same for their sons too. Fathers can raise their sons to have a good balance of all the positive traits of traditionally masculine and feminine characteristics, and this can remain a cultural legacy for generations to come.

In conclusion, a friend of mine shared an inspiring story about how his father, a Marine, showed him from a very young what strength meant. My friend’s father taught him that strength was about offering support to the people around him and having a strong sense of responsibility. As my friend is physically handicapped, his father’s motivation went a long way in helping him understand that strength need not be physical, but mostly comes from within.


 

References

1 Pittman, Frank S. Man Enough. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1993. Print.

2 Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports,. Protecting Families From Violence: The Singapore Experience. Singapore: Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, 2009. Print.

3 Parker, Wayne and Wayne Parker. "7 Tips For Fathers To Raise Responsible Sons". About.com Parenting. N.p., 2016. Web. 4 June 2016.

4 Yong, Charissa. "Fathers To Get Longer Paternity Leave And Shared Parental Leave From 2017". The Straits Times 2016. Web. 3 June 2016.

5 "The Importance Of Fathers". Psychology Today. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 June 2016.

6 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/stanford-rape-case-brock-turner-supporters-apologise-and-say-of-course-he-should-be-held-accountable-a7073781.html

 

 



The Social Media Generation: How Millennials Made Feminism Cool

Posted: 2016-07-01

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The Social Media Generation:

How Millennials Made Feminism Cool

By Leah Devaney

Edited by Madhurya Manohar


 

In every wave of feminism for the past 50 years, the pioneers of the movement have found new and innovative ways to get their message out into the public domain. In the 1960s, they made themselves visible by participating in rallies and marches, dramatically burning their bras and shouting above the crowd. During the 1990s, Riot Grrrl exploded onto the musical map and feminism was projected not just through their music but also through the fashion and culture that sprung up around it. Then, it seemed, there was nothing. Riot Grrrl started to wane as the founding members of the movement did what so many guerrilla warriors do: They argued and broke apart. In the music world, Britpop and rave supplanted the DIY and punk scene that had given rise to the feminism of Riot Grrrl and in the wider cultural scene, LGBTQ and other minority identities substituted feminism as the underground cultural identity du jour.

 

In the years between the slow regression of the Riot Grrrl movement and the rise of feminism as we know it in 2016, there was a surge in popular opinion, fueled by the media, that feminism was no longer necessary. Women were working full-time jobs, raising families and enjoying whatever type of life they chose to lead. ‘Ladette’ culture, the idea that women no longer had to be ladies but could party as hard and act just like the boys, was on the rise in the West.  Feminism was over; it was no longer necessary. Despite this new atmosphere of emancipation, however, objectification of and discrimination against women continued to be rampant in all quarters, perhaps because of the parallel rise in lad culture.

 

It was time for a new, reinvigorated feminism and the rise of the Internet, and social media in particular, provided the perfect medium for it. Sites such as Facebook, Reddit and Twitter spread information in a way previously unheard of. Suddenly, the feminist message was everywhere and touching demographics it would never have previously. Memes, hashtags and 140-character limits have forcibly condensed the message of this new feminism into easily understandable slogans. #HeforShe, @Everyday_ Sexism and #Thisiswhatafeministlookslike are some of the most visible examples of a movement that is making its way into popular consciousness.  Furthermore, thanks to the advances of the modern age, people and policy makers across the world are able to see the effect of this movement globally. At the start of 2016, the Washington Post conducted a survey of Americans to understand contemporary attitudes towards feminism. While only six out of every ten women surveyed would call themselves a feminist, 83% of women aged 18 to 34 believed feminism to be synonymous with empowerment. These millennials also revealed they were far more likely to express their views about women’s rights on social media than any other age group. The shockwaves of this have extended far and wide. In the UK, the Secretary of State for Education (and ironically, Minister for Women and Equalities), Nicky Morgan was forced to do a U-turn when her plan to remove feminism from A-level politics caused protests in schools and colleges across the country - -the policy was withdrawn in two months. Not only are millennials changing the conversation on feminism, they are acting on what upsets them, using the tools the 21st century has provided, and enacting real change unimagined by the pioneers of the second and third wave feminism.

 

Despite what the media, politicians, and other demographics say, feminism is not dead. It is alive and well in the hearts and minds of the millennial generation and, thanks to our love for and mastery of the internet, it is slowly becoming cool once more.



10 Essential Feminist Books Everyone Needs to Read

Posted: 2016-06-30

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10 Essential Feminist Books Everyone Needs to Read

By Shane Tan

Edited by Madhurya Manohar


 

The author, professor, poet, and novelist Joyce Carol Oates once said, “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.

Have you ever wished the men in your life could understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of mansplaining? Have you ever been baffled by the ignorance of politicians enacting legislation that restricts women’s bodies and their understanding of a woman’s lived experience?

Men and women—This list is by no means conclusive or a canon, but let’s start bridging that divide with these feminist classics and contemporary books with a feminist angle.

 

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is a hauntingly powerful semi-autobiographical insight into mental illness, mirroring Sylvia Plath’s own descent into depression and her eventual suicide. The inner anxieties revealed to readers still ring true today. From seeing the limits of a smart, ambitious young woman living with suffocating gender stereotypes in the 1950s, to simply the struggle of being a young person finding their place in the world—we can all see a bit of Plath in us.

 

2. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

You know those subtly sexist moments that make you feel rage inside? Rebecca Solnit brought a language to describe one of those common experiences. Solnit’s essay, Men Explain Things to Me brought awareness to mansplaining—the phenomenon where a man who assumes he’s the expert on a certain subject condescendingly “educates” a woman. Her collection of essays are beautifully written and witty, but also a sober reminder of the everyday sexism women still face.

 

3. The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

“Behind every great man there is a woman.” The Wife, a story about a talented woman and the sacrifices she’s made in marriage, work and life, illustrates this quote perfectly. Set in the 1950s before second wave feminism—where women went to college to get an “MRS Degree” before spending the rest of their lives invisibly supporting their husbands—it tells a bigger story about living in a world owned and narrated by men. Captivating, gripping, and thought-provoking, The Wife is a must-read.

 

4. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

Pop culture seems to be having a transgender moment. High profile people such as Chelsea Manning, Laverne Cox, and most recently, Caitlyn Jenner have elevated the transgender narrative in popular culture. Before Caitlyn Jenner, there was Janet Mock—who came out as a trans woman in a Marie Claire article published in 2011.

 

Her memoir, Redefining Realness, provides nuance to her story of her journey to womanhood. A journey that involved growing up multiracial, poor, and among a community of third gender traditions such as Māhū in Hawaii—the self-realization of Mock’s identity is a powerful story.

 

5. We Should All Be Feminists (Kindle Single) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists is a personal essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie based on her TED talk in 2013 of the same name. Adichie’s essay is an accessible introduction to feminism for anyone—which Sweden has recognised, giving every 16-year-old a copy of We Should All Be Feminists.

 

Adichie sheds light on how the limiting confines of gender stereotypes and expectations affect men and women through funny and witty stories not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more subtle and institutional behaviours that marginalise women and limit men around the world.

 

6. Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks

 

Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks is a concise and intersectional book that brings feminist issues of race, class, violence and work to the wider public. She starts with a personal story about how she breaks misconceptions about feminism in her everyday life when she talks about her work as a writer, feminist theorist and a cultural critic.

 

While most people find being her work as a cultural critic exciting and understand her passion for writing, their understanding stops at feminism. But after listening to hooks, “they are quick to tell me I am different”, she writes, “not like the ‘real’ feminists who hate men, who are angry.” Today,when “Feminazi” is still a word thrown around as an insult meant to silence—this book, and feminism, is indeed for everybody.



7. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Looking at media and culture through a critical lens makes us more aware of embedded sexism, which is great. But as a feminist, that also makes it hard to consume and enjoy pop culture in the same way you did before. Is it okay that you find “Blurred Lines” an insanely catchy song despite its misogynist lyrics?

 

Roxane Gay’s understands our inner conflicts. In her collection of essays, Bad Feminist takes us through the journey of her life through pop culture. Bad Feminist is a relatable, intelligent and funny examination of the problems in our society today and how our culture affects us.

 

8. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler

Judith Butler sparked a shift in the binary definition of gender with her controversial seminal text, Gender Trouble. She created the term “gender performativity”, the idea that gender is a social construct, and that we reinforce gender categories by “performing” our gender of “male” and “female” according to social norms and stereotypes. Gender Trouble is a thought provoking critique of constructions and functions of gender in the world today.

 

9. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

With her 1947 book, The Second Sex, Simone De Beauvoir pioneered the shift in our thinking of sex (what we are biologically born with) as separate from gender (what society tells us to do). As she is famously quoted, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” The Second Sex is a fascinating examination between the social, historical, philosophical, and biological differences between men and women.

 

10. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

When we think of the 60s, an iconic visual that comes to mind is one of the perfect ever-smiling, glamorous housewife. Betty Friedan exposed that post-war happy housewife image that had been proliferated by the media as a myth in The Feminine Mystique, using data she collected from college classmates.  The book allowed unfulfilled housewives all across America to question the gendered expectations for a cookie-cutter life of domesticity and is considered the spark for the second wave of feminism in America.





Mad Scientists for Social Good

Posted: 2016-06-27

Mad Scientists for Social Good

By Shi Wen Yeo

Edited by Shibani Pandya & Amra Naidoo

 


 

 

On the 27th & 28th May 2016, students aged 14-18 came together for Project Aspire’s Social Impact jam to learn about social entrepreneurship and gender equality. Over the next two months, the students will go through workshops and be guided by mentors who will assist the students bring their inspired ideas to life!

 

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IDEO shared thoughts on how participants could refine their ideas for social enterprises by using design thinking i.e. thinking like a detective and a mad scientist.

 

How do you get to what people really care about? This question is at the heart of any design thinker’s process and a key concern for many social entrepreneurs. It is important to focus on human-centered design and build a business model around providing people with a convenience that does not already exist. This could be done using a methodology of diverging by creating choices starting with needs, or converging, which means making choices starting with the options. Participants should remember to keep the customer at the heart and always question their thought processes, by looking out for needs like a detective, and then finding out of the box solutions like a mad scientist. To create a people-centered project, we should focus on the stories, not the data, and have a great question in mind. This way, we can have a great design that is human focussed and replicable for others to use, thus maximising the change generated.

 

In the lead up to Showcase Day, students participating in Project Aspire will be attending workshops to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of their ideas. Save Showcase Day in your calendar! On 16th July 2016, the stuents will present their inspire ideas to a panel of judges, parents, and the general public.

 

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Project Aspire is organised by Singapore Committee for UN Women, powered by the National Youth Council, Singapore and with thanks to supporting partner, muru-D Singapore.

 

Special thanks to muru-D Singapore, IDEO Singapore, the Change Leader Academy, Bettr Barista Coffee Academy & The Nail Social for conducting the workshops and mentoring the students over the weekend.





Doing Good, Smart

Posted: 2016-06-20

Doing Good, Smart

By Shi Wen Yeo

Edited by Shibani Pandya & Amra Naidoo

 


 

On the 27th & 28th May 2016, students aged 14-18 came together for Project Aspire’s Social Impact jam to learn about social entrepreneurship and gender equality. Over the next two months, the students will go through workshops and be guided by mentors who will assist the students bring their inspired ideas to life!

 

 

On the first day, facilitators from the Change Leader Academy encouraged participants to think of ways to link their talents to problems they identified in society.

 

Doing good in a smart way - this is what social entrepreneurship is about. Participants were introduced to change making stills, which include empathy, teamwork, leadership and the ability to creatively problem-solve. Participants were encouraged to  discover their unique talents and map it to a pressing social need. Through the process of “venting their frustration” by coming up with various social problems in their schools, neighbourhoods and communities, they identified areas of focus and explored how their talents and interests could solve these issues that are close to their hearts.

 

In the lead up to Showcase Day, students participating in Project Aspire will be attending workshops to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of their ideas. Save Showcase Day in your calendar! On 16th July 2016, the stuents will present their inspire ideas to a panel of judges, parents, and the general public.

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Project Aspire is organised by Singapore Committee for UN Women, powered by the National Youth Council, Singapore and with thanks to supporting partner, muru-D Singapore.

 

Special thanks to muru-D SingaporeIDEO Singapore, the Change Leader Academy, Bettr Barista Coffee Academy & The Nail Social for conducting the workshops and mentoring the students over the weekend.

 



8 Must-watch films for feminists

Posted: 2016-06-13

By Yvonne Arivalagan

Edited by Madhurya Manohar


 

The global film industry has not done the feminist movement many favours. Too many films have relegated women to passive and underdeveloped roles such as the damsel in distress (Superman, King Kong) and the object of sexual desire (James Bond, Transformers). Even in films with female protagonists, women are portrayed as materialistic (Sex and the City), manipulative (Mean Girls) or entirely defined by their relationship with men (Twilight).

Fortunately, from time to time, a film comes along that turns these stereotypes on their heads and dares to suggest that women are capable, strong, intelligent and above all, multi-dimensional human beings.

 

  1. Iron-jawed angels (2004)

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Set in the 1910s, in the midst of the United States’ suffragette movement, the film powerfully captures the struggles of a group of American women as they fight political oppression, socio-economic disenfranchisement and outright physical violence in their pursuit of equal voting rights.

 

  1. The Stoning of Soraya M (2008)

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Culminating in a woman being stoned to death under false accusations of adultery, this film reveals the mentality behind gender inequality that is still prevalent around the world. Themes of power, domestic abuse and the denigration of women pervade the story, which Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the aunt of Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), tells a journalist because she refuses to be silent.

 

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

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The latest installation in the Star Wars franchise heralds the arrival of Jakku scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) who is a neither a damsel in distress nor a conventional love interest. Rey is self-sufficient, determined and a capable fighter who, in one memorable scene, deftly pilots the iconic Millennium Falcon.

 

  1. The Killing us Softly Series (1979-2010)

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This series of documentaries, featuring experts like Gloria Steinem, brilliantly highlights how the objectification of women in advertising can not only damage young girls’ self-esteem but also reinforce sexism and sexual violence against women. The documentaries even touch on the interplay between sexism, racism, colourism and ageism in the media.

 

  1. Spirited Away (2001)

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In this beloved Studio Ghibli film, 10-year-old Chihiro endeavours to save her parents from the malevolent spirits whose world they have inadvertently stumbled into. She resourcefully navigates the unfamiliar and frightening place, thus challenging every stereotype about the delicate and helpless young female.

 

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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The film got rave reviews for the very reason some critics lambasted it — the heroism of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) validates the idea that women desire freedom from patriarchy and can do darn well without it. Five of the film’s Oscar wins went to women, which shows that gender equality is good for everyone.

 

  1. Fargo (1996)

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The most competent character in the film is police chief Marge Gunderson, who sets out to solve a messy murder case. The film does an excellent job in subverting the stereotype that women are handicapped by their bodies, as Marge is, incidentally, seven months pregnant.

 

  1. Oppressed Majority (2010)

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This is a droll but hard-hitting short film about what the world would be like if gender roles were reversed. Filmmaker Eleonore Pouirrot stated that she made this film to highlight the prevalence of sexual violence and the victim-blaming mentality that undergirds it.



Social Impact, Kid-Preneurs & Dance Parties – A Report on Project Aspire’s Social Impact Jam

Posted: 2016-06-10

Social Impact, Kid-Preneurs & Dance Parties – A Report on Project Aspire’s Social Impact Jam

By Shi Wen Yeo

Edited by Shibani Pandya & Amra Naidoo


 

 

“Don’t be afraid of the simplicity and crudeness of your initial idea”- This sentiment, expressed by Jamie from muru-D captured the essence of the workshop that the participants of Project Aspire attended at muru-D over the past weekend.

 

Participants were given an introduction to advocacy for women's rights in the fields of domestic violence, economic empowerment and political leadership. They learnt that it was important to question gender roles in society and perceptions of different genders in the media.

 

On the first day, facilitators from the Change Leader Academy encouraged participants to think of ways to link their talents to problems they identified in society. IDEO then shared thoughts on how participants could refine their ideas for social enterprises by using design thinking i.e. thinking like a detective and a mad scientist. Cheryl, a social entrepreneur herself, also shared the reality of having a business and how it is important to remain focused on the end goal. Cheryl is from The Nail Social, a socially-conscious salon that was established with the aim of training and employing local underprivileged women with challenges securing employment.

 

The next day, Jamie from muru-D introduced the “lean startup”, or how to make a social enterprise successful. He recommended that participants be willing to fail and learn from it (or as he put it, “FLEARN”) and have a willingness to break rules. Muru-D is a startup accelerator backed by Telstra. An accelerator is a program that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground through mentorship, education and sometimes funding too.  

 

Tania from Bettr Barista talked about how social entrepreneurship is not easy due to the financial considerations involved. Tania is from Bettr Barista which runs a 6-month barista programme for local disadvantaged women and youth, adopting a whole-person approach that combines professional coffee education with life and emotional management skills and physical training. Participants then shared the ideas they had brainstormed for their project, and all the participants came together to help each other refine their ideas for social enterprises.

 

Chua Yee Ler, aged 17, from CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls’ School, commented “I am concerned that women in Singapore forgo many  job opportunities. In primary school, the teacher would make the class chairperson to be the guy and the vice chairperson would have to be a girl. Girls never got an opportunity to be class chairperson. Through Project Aspire, I hope to see issues from different points of view and get ideas on how to help women in Singapore.”

 

I am excited for the workshops to come in the next few weeks and hope that participants will continue to aspire towards their dreams and be changemakers in their own ways. Here’s wishing participants all the best in the journey ahead!

 

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On the 27th & 28th May 2016, students aged 14-18 came together for Project Aspire’s Social Impact jam to learn about social entrepreneurship and gender equality. Over the next two months, the students will go through workshops and be guided by mentors who will assist the students bring their inspired ideas to life!

 

Project Aspire is organised by Singapore Committee for UN Women, powered by the National Youth Council, Singapore and with thanks to supporting partner, muru-D Singapore.

 

Special thanks to muru-D SingaporeIDEO Singapore, the Change Leader Academy, Bettr Barista Coffee Academy & The Nail Social for conducting the workshops and mentoring the students over the weekend.





Why Educating Mothers is Important for Development

Posted: 2016-06-01

 

Why Educating Mothers is Important for Development

By: Agnes Chew

Edited by: Shibani Pandya


 

Education as a Basic Right

For most of us reading this, access to basic education is a given. After all, why shouldn’t it be? The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women have declared education as a fundamental human right, acknowledged by numerous countries globally.

 

The Reality

This same basic right continues to be denied to millions of women and children across the world today. According to the 2015 joint report1 by UNESCO and UNICEF, a staggering 121 million children and adolescents have either never started school or dropped out.

This often means that mothers from different circumstances and places face markedly different scenarios when conceiving their children. While a young mother in Singapore could have a wealth of educational resources to prepare herself for her pregnancy, another in sub-Saharan Africa may not even be equipped to read.

 

The Consequences

With limited access to education, girls have been found to be more vulnerable to child marriage, domestic violence, and poverty. Based on the World Bank Group’s report2, girls without education are up to six times more likely to marry young than those with high school education. Nearly one in five girls in developing countries becomes pregnant before age 18. In these countries, pregnancy-related causes account for most deaths among girls aged 15 to 19.

These facts and figures may feel distant from our own perceived realities – which is why Plan Norway3 designed a campaign to put the issue of child marriage into a context that locals could relate to. Coined Stop The Wedding4, it is the fictitious story of a 12-year-old Thea relating her wedding preparations and emotions through a personal blog over the course of the month leading up to her marriage to a man 25 years her senior. The campaign sparked public outrage and raised international awareness about these prevalent but often overlooked issues.

 

Education as Empowerment

Education is critical in helping women and children break the poverty cycle. According to UNESCO, putting women through primary education alone would reduce maternal deaths by two-thirds, saving 98,000 lives. If all women received secondary education, child deaths would decrease by half, saving 3 million lives, and 12 million children would be saved from malnutrition.

Not only does education enable mothers to better survive childbirth, have healthier babies, and send their children to school, it also equips them to make and execute more informed decisions. Educated mothers are also more likely to secure work, achieve economic empowerment, and serve as positive role models for their children, peers and generations to follow.

 

Join the Movement

Ensuring access to education for the marginalised should not only concern governments and policy makers – each and every one of us is more than capable of contributing to this movement to help actualise the dreams and aspirations of women and children worldwide.

To find out how you can help, please refer here.

 


 


The report titled Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children can be found here: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/oosci-global-report.aspx.

The report titled Voice and Agency: Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity can be found here: http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/Gender/Voice_and_agency_LOWRES.pdf.

Plan Norway is a humanitarian and development organisation dedicated to protecting the rights of children.

For more details, please refer to: https://plan-international.org/news/2014-10-10-norway-child-bride-blog-goes-global.

 



Children’s Books That Challenge Gender Norms

Posted: 2016-05-19

Children’s Books That Challenge Gender Norms

by Fabiola Perez

Edited by Madhurya Manohar


 

Although humanity has come a long way on the path to gender equality, gender norms are still pervasive in today’s modern age, and can be harmful to both genders. Due to institutional and societal pressures, women are frequently deterred from pursuing demanding careers in leadership or STEM fields, while men are often judged for working in more “emotional,” female-dominated fields such as nursing or homemaking. Although these gender inequalities affect adults, they are perpetuated as early as birth. From a young age, children are taught by society that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls. As innocuous as these suggestions may seem, they play a big role in the gender inequalities that plague our current society. Given the influence that books can hold on young kids, reading children’s books that challenge these norms can help kids realize they can follow their passion regardless of gender. Below is a set of books that you can read your child to help future generations move one step closer to gender equality.

 

  1. Sleeping Bobby by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Giselle Potter —This quick read is based on the Grimm retelling of the classic fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty.” It follows a prince named Bob who is cursed with a deep sleep on the eve of his 18th birthday, and the brave and lovely princess who sets out to rescue him. Fans of the original will love this witty role-reversal.

  2. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts—This book is perfect for young girls interested in the STEM fields. It tells the story of young Rosie Revere, who is mocked for designing quirky gadgets. When her great-great aunt tells Rosie that her dream is to fly, Rosie sets out to make her dream come true.

  3. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko— Our modern perception of fairy tales generally involves a dashing prince saving a beautiful princess from an evil dragon, and the two of them living happily ever after. This isn’t quite the case in this picture book, where a handsome and rather narcissistic prince is captured by a dragon. The dragon burns off the princess’ expensive clothes, so she puts on a paper bag and sets off to rescue her prince. When she tricks the dragon into setting the prince free, he mocks her clothes and tells her to come back when she looks like a real princess. Ultimately, the princess realizes she doesn’t need a prince to live out her happily ever after.

  4. William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by William Pene du Bois—This 1972 classic children’s book tells the story of a boy named William, who longs for a doll despite his father’s attempts to interest him in toys considered appropriate for boys. Finally, his grandmother buys William a doll, explaining that she believes it will help him learn to be a great father one day.



Michael & Betsy Zink shared with us their thoughts about gender equality

Posted: 2016-04-28

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Michael, you’ve been an influential leader at Citibank for a long time. Tell us what

you think about diversity and its role in business.

 

"Diversity of all sorts - gender, cultural, generational, etc. - is in our self-interest. Most

societies are half male, half female.  Our clients are a mixture of local and global companies.

 Unless our leadership teams have a similar profile, then we will lack perspectives necessary

for commercial success."  

 

Betsy, can you tell us what you both think of the HeForShe movement so far and

what impact it's had?

 

"I think the greatest achievement is that the HeforShe movement has brought the dialogue to

the surface and shown us what it looks like in real life. It allows men to serve as an example

to other men and to say, “treating women respectfully and equally is not only the great for

women, it is great for your business, for your family and for society”. When men step

forward and tell their own stories it is incentive for others to follow. It also serves as a

powerful example for younger men to experience fathers, mentors and bosses treating

women with respect and equality. Women witness the movement and approach life with

the expectation and understanding that this is how they can and should be treated. These

are the steps that will help normalize gender equality in Singapore and it is exciting to see

them unfolding daily."

 

A question that often gets asked to women and less often to men, Michael, can you tell us how you balanced your career and personal life?

 

"I have always been ambitious but about ten years into my 28-year career I was trying to

determine just how ambitious I was.  All four of our children had been born by then and we

were already working in our fifth country.  My biggest concern was my ability to balance my

career ambitions with my commitment to family, so I asked a very senior person in Citi to

point out a role model - someone who was still happily married to his first spouse, who had

thriving children, and who was successful within Citi. Those people became my role models,

examples that showed me it was possible to keep my family as True North but also be a

successful banker."

 

You both spoke at the inaugural HeForShe Impact Awards on the 27th, Betsy, what do you think these Awards mean for Singapore? 

 

"I think these awards really help to shine a light on what a progressive society Singapore is

and that they will help continue to ensure her leadership in the SE Asian region. The

determination of this small island nation historically to become something extraordinary

cannot be understated. Singapore’s ability to assimilate new information, adapt and to lead

is undeniable. Evidence shows us that when women are included in every segment of

society and in the workplace that everyone benefits…from healthier families, to more

efficient businesses to more meaningful dialogue in the boardroom. These are no

measurable. As Singapore shines a light on these issues she is sure to create evidence-based

policies that reflect the importance of gender equality. Her leadership across ASEAN

ensures that these policies will spread and gender biases will begin to dissipate regionally.

The benefits to Singapore will be continued productivity and a healthier society, and to the

region, a great example!"



Unpacking the "F" Word Survey

Posted: 2016-04-26

 

As part of the launch of their first ever HeForShe Impact Awards, the Singapore Committee for UN Women "unpacked" feminism and attitudes towards gender equality in Singapore during the month of March through a public survey. Respondents were both male and female of ages 13 and above. 
 
 

 

 

 

The results were inspiring, with 32% of males and 67.3% of females indicating that they identify with feminist goals. 
 
Although the majority of all respondents felt that feminism is about equality between men and women and that it addresses the societal roots that promote gender discrimination, 45.9% of males who answered the survey also feel that feminism excludes troublesome issues that men face while 25% feel that it is about female superiority rather than equality. A key finding was that 33.7% of males and 22% of females feel that men by definition cannot be feminists and were therefore unsure of whether they can be a part of the movement for gender equality. 
 
Popular myths about feminists were shattered, with only 2.3% of all participants believing that feminists hate men and 1.5% of participants believing that feminists do not want children or a family, of which none were male. 
 
67% of respondents felt that our cultural beliefs in Singapore promote gender inequality through gender stereotypes, of which 17% were male. Changing the narratives of these beliefs, superstitions and stories that define us is a key part of the Singapore Committee for UN Women's work under the Help Anna campaign. 
 
The Help Anna campaign also raises awareness on steps that all individuals can take to address gender inequality through altering their own choices and actions, as well as through engaging with their community and peers. This is especially important because 31% of all respondents felt that both men and women are responsible for propagating social and cultural norms that promote gender inequality, 7% felt that men were primarily responsible and 3% felt that women were primarily responsible.
 
Within the home, although 87.3% of all respondents agreed that partners should share the responsibility for household chore, 56.9% of those who agreed that women should be the primary caregivers of children were male. At the same time, 67% of respondents felt that men are equally suited to be stay at home spouses, of which 22% were male.
 
Within the workplace, 91% of all respondents disagreed that men are more professional and make better employees and 57% of all respondents agreed that women earn less than men even when they perform the same work equally well. However, the awareness that workplace policies are influenced by gender stereotypes disadvantaging women was lower amongst males, as was the fact that global statistics show that men are more likely to get promoted even if men and women perform equally well at the same work.
 
The data garnered from this survey will be key in informing the Singapore Committee's future initiatives to create an inclusive approach that invites men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners in the crafting and implementation of a shared vision of gender equality that will benefit all of humanity. Research estimates suggest that if we continue on our current trajectory, gender equality will be achieved by 2095.
With men and boys at the table and engaged on the issue, we believe that we can more than halve that estimate.


Meet the Inkuehdible Teenagers that are Changing the Nation.

Posted: 2016-04-18

Meet the Inkuehdible Teenagers that are Changing the Nation.

Interview by Ananya Pandit Bajla

Edited by Sing Suen Soon and Amra Naidoo

 

 

Meet Rachel, Katrina, Syafiqah and Joyce. Together they make up the “Kueh Girls”. The Kueh Girls are a social enterprise in Singapore that aims to empower female youth-at-risk through an unorthodox means – kueh! [Don’t know what kueh is? You’re missing out! Find out here.]

Their winning idea was to train disadvantaged girls in the art of making kueh through internships or workshops. Bringing youth and tradition together in a delicious and uniquely Singaporean way, the hand-made kueh are then sold to cafes all around Singapore to provide a means of employment and income for the girls. The Kueh Girls took home a SGD$5000 seed grant as the inaugural winners of Project Aspire: 5 minutes to change the Nation; an endeavor launched by Singapore Committee for UN Women last year to introduce students aged 15-18 years old to social entrepreneurship and gender equality issues.

In the following conversation, we explore the brilliant conflux of ideas they have to offer and how Project Aspire is created a platform for them to make their ideas a reality.

 

  • Congratulations on Winning Project Aspire 2015! Can you briefly tell us what your project is about and how you feel when you found out your team had won?

Thank you! We were really surprised! All the other teams had put up such interesting and innovative ideas. Nevertheless, we are humbled and extremely grateful to all our mentors.

Our project is about empowering female youth-at-risk through a social enterprise venture. The participating girls, usually from organization such as Girls’ Homes or Shelters, will learn how to make kueh (a traditional cake). This will be done through workshops, or possibly even internships. They will then produce kuehs of their own and we will facilitate sales for them through cafes and other food distributors. This aims to empower them with not just culinary skills, but also marketing and leadership capabilities.

 

  • What stage of your implementation cycle are you currently in and what are you hoping to do next?

We are currently in the preliminary phase of securing licenses and collaborating with parties. We’ve gotten some very positive responses from potential participants and organizations that may be willing to organize workshops. We hope to get everything settled and also finalize sales channels.

 

  • Can you visualize this venture operating independently over long term horizons?

Certainly! This social enterprise was built to be financially sustainable and even open to expansion. However, we need to pass leadership of the project when we leave for university, later this year. We’ve gotten some interest from different individuals and groups and hope to find a worthy successor to take our venture forward.

 

  • Do you think this experience has shaped your personal career aspirations in one way or the other?

Most of us are keen on pursuing some manner of public service in the future and this project has only reiterated our desire to change Singapore for the better and also advocate for women’s rights. We also believe we have honed our personal leadership skills; we think these will be invaluable when we enter the workforce in the future. 

  • What advice would you give to students joining Project Aspire this year?

You should take everything as a learning experience - because it is! Every idea can be refined and improved. Also, try and think about how you can make your project viable in the long-run rather than working towards an event-based/one-off occurrence. Overall, just have fun :-) 

 

Inspired? Project Aspire 2016 is now calling for applications! Want to solve big problems? Passionate about social innovation? We're looking for young changemakers who want to make their big ideas a reality! Project Aspire will equip students with the skills that they need in a fun, creative learning environment. Register for Project Aspire today!



Unpacking the F Word

Posted: 2016-04-18

Writte By Dorea Goh

Edited by: Madhurya Manohar

 

On 7th March 2016, the eve of International Women’s Day, the Singapore Committee for UN Women held a talk entitled ‘Unpacking the F Word’, with the aim to start a conversation on the controversial terms Feminism and Feminist.

Left to right: Ms. Debbie Goh, Mr. Brian Bergen-Aurand, Ms. Malathi Das, Ms.Christina Liew

The event featured a panel of 3 speakers – Ms. Malathi Das, a litigation lawyer and industry leader in family, gender and child issues, and Assistant Professors at Nanyang Technological University, Ms. Debbie Goh, whose research focuses on gender and media portrayal, and Mr. Brian Bergen-Aurand, who has authored papers on the intersection of film and ethics. The talk was moderated by Ms.Christina Liew, a member of the Singapore Committee for UN Women’s Executive Board.

The speakers launched the session by sharing their perspectives and experiences related to feminism. At its heart, they agreed feminism is about dismantling gender stereotypes and availing the same opportunities to men and women.

The floor consequently opened up for questions. When asked why there is still a need to educate people on the importance of equality, Malathi responded that even now, “men are better rewarded and their qualities seen as more desirable”, and this is because “the work that men do earns money, while women’s work does not directly contribute to the economy”. Brian added that men are also “not appreciated for attempting to do the work that women are traditionally expected to do”.  

Another audience member addressed the reluctance of men and women to associate themselves with the feminist movement as it seems to exclude men. Debbie explained that although the movement is against all oppression, it is women who have been systematically and historically oppressed and therefore, feminism has benefited women more. The panellists spoke about the relevance of feminism by asserting the continued existence of gender inequality and the political, ethical and social links to biology that continue to be a problematic worldview. Malathi explained the error in such a view by saying: “Even if you have a group of people who are biologically the same, their strengths and weaknesses will be different.” The speakers also emphasised the importance of choice in the feminism movement– it aims to allow all individuals freedom to choose their life paths without placing them in gendered boxes.

 At the end of the event, attendees were left with a more in-depth understanding of the movement. While attendee @mjwehling quipped in a post-event tweet, “It's not the difference. It's the hierarchy that's built around the difference”, @Sarah_Diedro tweeted, "Feminism is not only about gender, it's about law, economics, and empowering families to have a better life".

 



HeForShe 101

Posted: 2016-03-16

 

HeForShe 101

Want to get the low-down on one of the biggest campaigns for 2016? Here’s a quick HeForShe 101 to get you up to speed!

What is HeForShe?

Created by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality provides a systematic approach and targeted platform on which men and boys can engage and become change agents towards the achievement of gender equality.

Why HeForShe?

Achieving gender equality in our lifetimes requires an innovative, inclusive approach that both recognizes men and boys as partners for women’s rights, and acknowledges the ways in which they also benefit from this equality. HeForShe invites men and boys to build on the work of the women’s movement as equal partners, crafting and implementing a shared vision of gender equality that will benefit all of humanity

Who is a HeForShe?

Anyone can be a HeForShe! UN Women HQ has an ambitious aim to mobilize 1 billion men to accelerate the achievement of gender equality. HeForShe uses innovative online, offline, and mobile phone technology to identify and activate men in every city, community, and village around the world. The HeForShe journey begins online with a simple affirmation that gender equality is not only a women’s issue, but a human rights issue that requires the participation and commitment of men. HeForShe then moves beyond awareness to action, asking men to define what matters to them, and what they will do to make a difference. Hundreds of thousands of men have made this commitment, and are now taking their own steps to change the world, sharing their stories to inspire others to follow suit. Their individual actions will collectively create the sustainable social and systematic change we need to achieve equality.

How can I get involved?

Nominate a HeForShe

The call for nominations open on the 15th January 2016, and will close on 30 March 2016. Winners will be announced in April at an event to celebrate the achievements of these organisations and individuals. Applications can be made here.

Become a Singapore Impact Champion

Following the global IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, Singapore Committee for UN Women also aims to engage key decision makers in corporations, government bodies, non-profits and schools to drive change. These impact champions will pledge to make gender equality an institutional priority, committing to real change within and beyond each of their organisations. Are you an organization that wants to be involved? Click here for more information.

 

Take the Pledge

Singapore Committee for UN Women also invites the general public to join over 2,000 men and women who have already pledged to take action against gender discrimination and violence at www.heforshe.org.

 

Educate Yourself

Check out our 15 top tips to get you started on your HeForShe journey here!

Learn more about the HeForShe campaign in Singapore and how you can get involved.

 

Celebrate International Women’s Day and HeForShe with us!

Singapore Committee for UN Women invite you to join us in celebrating HeForShe and International Women’s Day with a classic luncheon event, on Wednesday 27th April 2016 at  One Farrer Hotel & Spa located at 1 Farrer Park Station Road, from 12:30 to 14:30.

 

This is an exclusive invitation to celebrate International Women’s Day with us, and to join us in awarding companies, organisations, men and women in Singapore who promote gender equality through initiatives that they have championed, inspiring steps that they have taken and everyday actions resulting in positive change for the community. Your table or seat purchase will also be integral in making a meaningful contribution to Singapore Committee for UN Women’s local and regional initiatives for 2016. Celebrate gender equality; honour incredible pioneers; and, be part of the solution. RSVP here



Happy International Women's Day!

Posted: 2016-03-08

Celebrate an inclusive International Women's day this year! Nominate a #HeForShe today at http://www.unwomen-nc.org.sg/heforshe.acvx!


For a high resolution image click here!



Check out our 15 tips to get you started on your HeForShe journey!

Posted: 2016-03-04

 

Check out our 15 top tips to get you started on your HeForShe journey.  

 

1. Educate yourself about feminism, gender equality and what it entails.

2. Educate yourself about sexual consent and make sure there is clear, unambiguous communication of consent in all your sexual relationships.

3. Assess your beliefs and actions and take concrete action to change sexist opinions and stereotypes that you might hold.

4. Challenge men (and women) who make sexist comments and jokes, especially your friends

5. If you see a situation where a woman looks like she may be in distress while in the company of a man, stand nearby enough that you make yourself a physical presence, monitor the situation, and be in a position to call for help if needed.

6. Challenge people who make, say, or post sexist things on the Internet, especially on social media.

7. Speak out against gender discrimination and violence - and explain why it is offensive to you!

8. Teach your daughters and sons to do house chores and how to fix things.

9. Pay attention to the sex of experts and key figures presenting information to you in the media.

10. If you have children, be an equal parent. Divide childcare responsibilities so that you are doing a fair share of the work.

11. If you are in a hiring position in your company, don’t limit your talent pool. Companies should aim for a 50-50 gender split in all their teams – right up to the executive floor.

12. Encourage more female voices in policy and strategy development roles

13. Mentor both women and men because in most cases, mentorships don’t cross gender lines.

14. Introduce at least one close friend or relative to the HeForShe campaign and encourage him to participate in the campaign

15. Participate in HeForShe events in your community. Like this one that we’re hosting! 

 

Do any of these tips remind you of someone? Do they embody the spirit of gender equality in their everyday living? We’d love to be introduced! We are looking for passionate people in Singapore that promote gender equality at work, at home and in their community. Nominate them here!



Shop for gifts that give back

Posted: 2016-03-01

Shop with our Merchant Partners and help fund the critical work of empowering women and girls both locally and regionally. 

      

Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World is a joint initiative by the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard, to help young change-makers create a better world for women and girls in Asia and the Pacific.

This year, to commemorate the 5th year of Project Inspire, we have hoodies and t-shirts for sale.  

Click here to purchase one of them!

        

Email contact@unifem.org.sg to purchase a Singapore Committee for UN Women Equality tote bag.

   

For each purchase of one of these beautiful limited edition of yoga leggins by Rumi X, 30% of the price will benefit Singapore Committee for UN Women's programmes.  To purchase, click on the image above.

 

 

 

 



Children's Toys That Challenge Gender Norms

Posted: 2016-03-01

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Children’s Toys That Challenge Gender Norms

by Fabiola Perez


 

When navigating a toy store with a child, the categorization of toys according to gender is an all-too- familiar sight—the pink-laden aisles indicate rows of princesses and dolls for little girls, while the chunky action figures and sleek race cars are designed for little boys. However, using a child’s gender to determine what toys they can play with—or which ones they cannot play with—is a subtle albeit powerful way of perpetuating societal gender norms that can harm kids and inhibit them from following their true interests. As a parent, it can make a huge difference to allow and even encourage kids to choose toys that challenge gender norms as they are today. Below is a list of toys and games that can help kids begin to internalize gender equality from a young age.

 

1. Roominate — A prominent gender issue in our current society is the lack of female representation in STEM careers. With the toy brand Roominate, young girls (and boys as well) are encouraged to design and build their own creations. Kids can create anything from a building or Ferris wheel to even an electrical circuit.

 

2. Nerf Rebelle — Gone are the days when Nerf guns and archery belonged to boys. In true Katniss style, Nerf has released a series of crossbows and Nerf guns designed specifically for girls, paired with a series of online games on their Hasbro Nerf Rebelle website featuring female characters.

 

3. Unisex Easy-Bake Oven — There’s no reason why boys should be excluded from the childhood cooking marvel that is the Easy-Bake oven. Easy-Bake has now released a neutral, black and silver version of the oven, to demonstrate that girls aren’t the only ones interested in baking—when chocolate chip cookies are involved, it’s a guarantee that both genders will want to make them (and eat) them!

 

4. Wooden Dollhouses — Any girl that had a dollhouse as a child will surely remember the magical feeling of transporting your dolls from room to room in imaginary scenarios. By introducing wooden dollhouses, toy companies are promoting the use of dollhouses by boys, so that they too can exercise their creativity and imagination. Some gorgeous dollhouses channeling a classic, vintage design inside their wooden walls include the PlanToys Chalet Dollhouse and the Melissa and Doug Dollhouse or Fold & Go Wooden Castle.



We invite you to celebrate the HeForShe Impact Awards

Posted: 2016-02-24

This year Singapore Committee for UN Women are extending a special invitation to round off your International Women’s Day celebrations with a bang and recognise the achievements of pioneers and leaders of gender equality in Singapore.

 

Singapore Committee for UN Women invite you to join us in celebrating HeForShe and International Women’s Day with a classic luncheon event, on Wednesday 27th of April 2016 at One Farrer Hotel & Spa, from 12:30 to 14:30.

 

This is an exclusive invitation to celebrate International Women’s Day with us, and to join us in awarding companies, organisations, men and women in Singapore who promote gender equality through initiatives that they have championed, inspiring steps that they have taken and everyday actions resulting in positive change for the community. Your table or seat purchase will also be integral in making a meaningful contribution to Singapore Committee for UN Women’s local and regional initiatives for 2016. Celebrate gender equality; honour incredible pioneers; and, be part of the solution.

 

Mark your calendars and RSVP your attendance today by simply emailing heforshe@unifem.org.sg. To find out more about the campaign, or to make nomination, click here.

 

We are looking forward to celebrate all things gender equality with you!

RSVP Now!

 

With thanks to our Venue Partner



Statement by UN Women Executive Director on the migrant and refugee crisis

Posted: 2015-09-17

 

The world is struggling to calibrate its response to the vast numbers of refugees and migrants seeking a better and safer future. The scale of population movement and the horrors fuelling the surge are hard to take in and hard to process, on many different levels.

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On 10 September, children, women and men take shelter beneath a metal pavilion on a rainy day, near the town of Gevgelija, on the border with Greece. They are among the people who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis. Photo: UNICEF/Georgiev

Yet we must not only find the right emotional response to the situation, we must find the right strategic and practical approaches too. Those approaches must ensure that the response is both sufficient and intelligently framed for the long-term. There is an immediate task of relief and there is a deeper task of confronting why the situation became so acutely intolerable and ensuring that discriminatory conditions are not replicated when refugees and migrants arrive at their destination.

The United Nations is calling for humanitarian assistance and protection for over 80 million women, men and children globally. 

At UN Women, while we are deeply concerned about the instability and lack of safety for all those who need to escape, we have a particular responsibility to safeguard women and girls against the dangers at home and that are widely perpetuated through their displacement. 

Women and girls have become explicit targets of aggression and subjugation by extremist groups, and of routine violence in countries in conflict. At home they risk being denied their educational, economic and social rights. Many have been subjected to brutal abuse, sexual exploitation and even enslavement. They flee to avoid this, only to run straight into smugglers or others who may exploit, traffic, injure or abandon them before they reach their destination.

The sheer scale of unsafe journeys means that the majority of perpetrators are not being held to account. For the Mediterranean alone, there were more than 430,000 crossings in 2015.

There is an urgent need for humanitarian action to address the specific needs of women and girls and to involve them as equal partners. This includes ensuring safe routes for refugees and migrants, in particular for women and children at risk of violence, and providing safe spaces and special protection for them when they arrive. We must make sure that we are able to provide them with opportunities for education and work, as well as protection against further violence. This is not the norm: in destination countries they can face compounded discrimination, deprivation and dislocation. Health services are absent or overstretched. It is estimated that 12 per cent of the women travelling in the Mediterranean crisis are pregnant; there are dramatic increases reported of women dying in childbirth. Reproductive health care for arriving migrants and refugees is essential.

UN Women is working directly on the ground in refugee camps as well as with partners in countries of origin, transit and destination, to shape policies that specifically take these known issues into account, and tackle them. For example, we are working to provide sources of income and psychosocial support, and are addressing violence against women in refugee and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, which are shouldering the largest number of Syrian refugees.

Women and adolescent girls have enormous capacity as a force for reconstruction. They are among the first responders in crises, holding their families and communities together. They must not be portrayed as helpless, nor forced to become so by restrictive environments. 

As world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month to adopt a transformative global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, a renewed commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international humanitarian law is essential. More than that, we want to see it lived out immediately and directly in the response to the current humanitarian situation. Women and girls must be at the heart of this agenda that will shape our future. They must be at the centre of our present concern and support.

We applaud the efforts of nations and institutions, of individuals and communities, who support the needs of migrants and refugees. But as we are facing this unprecedented crisis, we see that much more must be done.

Funding is needed, on a large scale and immediately to address the current crisis. Globally, the humanitarian appeal coordinated by the UN is at approximately USD 20 billion while its funding so far is less than 30 per cent of that figure. We also need to confront what this enormous relocation of populations means for us as a world.

This is a true test of the value placed on humanity in the new sustainable development agenda and it will shape our work for years to come. We must not fail in this. With attention to protecting women and girls from discrimination and violence and a focus on their resilience and potential to learn, to lead, to thrive, we can and must draw strength, exhibit tolerance and enable recovery.


Read: UN WOMEN’S PROGRAMME: SYRIA CRISIS REPONSE IN JORDAN

Read: UN WOMEN’S PROGRAMME: ZA’ATARI REFUGEE CAMP



2015 Regional Beneficiaries

Posted: 2015-08-19

We have big news for 2015. While we are continuing to drive forward our local campaigns, in 2015 we have decided to shift our regional support to Cambodia, a country emerging from conflict. While the past decade has seen some progress achieved  by government, civil society and international agencies, it remains one of the poorest countries in Asia Pacific. The challenges to gender equality in Cambodia remain those related to poverty, including maternal mortality, illiteracy, violence, trafficking and unsafe migration.
  • Cambodia is one of the most populous countries in Southeast Asia, and also one of the poorest
  • One-third of Cambodians still live below the poverty line
  • Cambodia is still classified as one of the world’s Least Developed Countries
  • Women, who make up more than half the population, constitute the majority of the poor
As we embark on these new initiatives, we look to you again as our pillars of support and partners. As a self-funded organisation, the amount of support we can give to these life-changing projects is directly related to the amount of support that comes from you. You can show your support by:

 

Response to HIV-Outbreak in Roka Commune

"People from other villages are not welcoming us anymore," said a member of the family. "They discriminate against everyone from the village, including H.I.V negative people."

 

 

This project responds to an urgent humanitarian situation that made international headlines when 273 people in Roka, a poor rural area of Northwestern Cambodia, were found to have been infected by HIV. The outbreak originated from the use of contaminated needles by a private health clinician. Sixty percent of those infected are women and girls. Besides the public health consequences of this outbreak, villagers say people from other villages are not welcoming them anymore. Just USD 50 cents a day gives one woman or girl living with HIV access to clean water and nutrition as well as rights awareness programs, livelihood development, and education so they can live healthy and empowered lives. Just USD $5 a day provides healing to the entire community by equipping individuals living in the Roka commune with HIV-prevention education, facilitating improved livelihoods, and tackling discrimination in the broader society.


 

 

 

 

 

What we're doing
We are supporting a community-level response, strengthening solidarity and tackling stigma and discrimination in a manner sensitive to the distinct needs of women and girls by:
  • advising and counseling HIV-affected households on sexual and reproductive health issues including prevention, good nutrition, psychosocial wellbeing, and gender equal relationships within the family
  • ensuring infected women and girls are not abused, abandoned or neglected by family and caregivers
  • providing nutritional support to the elderly, under-5 children, and pregnant HIV-positive women all of whom are experiencing strong side effects of treatment due to poor nutrition, and 
  • building awareness of women living with HIV of their rights and encourgaing participation in decision-making at the local level
  • strengthening local economic resilience
  • humanitarian aid: clean water and nutrition.

 

 

 
Bamboo Producer Association
 
Proceeds from our 2011 and 2012 “Say No to the Oppression of Women” (SNOW) Galas helped fund the early stages of the Bamboo Project. In 2015 we are renewing our support and seeing the project through to its completion. Our support will assist the Kampong Chhnang Producer Association,a group of small-scale bamboo handicraft producers in a rural area of Kampong Chhnang province, in functioning as a stronger and more efficient social enterprise.Your support this year will bring them to operating their own sustainable enterprise. Just USD$1.55 a day gives a woman and her family a dignified and reliable livelihood.

 

What we're doing
Entrepreneurship is a path to the creation of jobs and incomes. Studies have shown that engaging women in business leads to fairer employment, improved corporate social responsibility, and greater investment back into communities. Potential multiplier effects are that the 70 families supported by the women producers will have greater economic resilience and an improved rural livelihood, avoiding the need to migrate for work which can entail family separation and vulnerability to exploitation.

In supporting the bamboo producers, we are thereby improving the livelihoods and economic empowerment of 70 women and their families by:
  • Cultivating financial management and leadership skills
  • Developing the internal structure of the social enterprise
  • Establishing connections with direct wholesalers 
  • Enhancing producers’ productivity and access to markets.
 

 

 

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