Everyone has a part to play to end violence against women

Recent reports of violence against and sexual harassment of women in some countries have sparked a global outcry, including many reports and commentaries.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked by nations around the world to combat and raise awareness of this.

Eliminating violence against women not only ensures that a basic human right is respected, but also empowers women to lead their lives and reach their full potential. This is an important step towards achieving greater gender equality.

Singapore acceded to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) in 1995. As a State Party to Cedaw, Singapore submitted its fifth periodic report in 2015, and recently presented the report at a review session with the UN Committee in Geneva.

The report noted the progress of women today and the latest UN Gender Inequality Index ranked Singapore 11th out of 159 countries, and second in Asia.

Our women are well-educated - the literacy rate for women is 95.4 per cent - and half of our university graduates are women. Our women also contribute actively to our economy. The employment rate for women aged 25-64 has increased from about 63 per cent 10 years ago to 72 per cent last year.

Singapore has continued to strengthen support for women since the last Cedaw review in 2011. This included the introduction of new laws, such as the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act and the Protection from Harassment Act, as well as enhancements to the Women's Charter to provide greater protection for women.

We have also improved our policies.

We have ramped up public education. Last year, the Ministry of Social and Family Development launched the Break the Silence - Against Family Violence campaign to raise awareness of family violence and to encourage the community to step in if they witness or suspect an act of family violence.

Everyone has a part to play.

Ang Bee Lian (Ms)

Director of Social Welfare

Ministry of Social and Family Development

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'Everyone has a part to play to end violence against women'. Print Edition | Subscribe