Forum: Focus on obstacles to gender equality

Last month, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced a comprehensive review of issues affecting women (Review of women's issues to change mindsets on equality, Sept 21).

It is high time we take a national approach towards issues concerning gender equality.

I concur with Mr Shanmugam that the focal point of dialogues should be the underlying cultural and structural issues which have led to entrenched values and mindsets hindering gender equality.

Speaking from the perspective of a social work student, the profession has seen, heard and dealt with countless situations where the crux of a concern stemmed from the power imbalance between genders.

However, as we champion gender equality and address the gender inequalities in our society, let us not forget that gender equality is not just about women's issues.

Men too face gender-based discrimination, assault and violence.

Perhaps we can consider shifting our focus to achieving gender equity where we treat men and women fairly based on their respective needs. Nonetheless, it is heartening that the Government is taking the first step in tackling the issue of gender equality, and I anticipate the positive changes it will bring about in the future.

Thong Ling Yink, 23

University undergraduate

Introduce daily class meditation sessions

The world is undergoing massive transformation, which is only adding to the high stress levels among young people.

Excessive pressure in school due to high expectations placed on a student by himself or society, fear of failure, and focusing more on grades than learning holistically is damaging.

Even at a tender age, inner engineering to engender internal peace, joy and overall well-being can help. Cultivating healthy habits helps to rewire the brain towards more positive thoughts and emotions.

By introducing a short, daily virtual-guided meditation session at the start of classes for all students, young people will be given the chance to practise mindfulness by listening to their own thoughts.

This may lead to a more compassionate outlook, feelings of contentment and tranquillity, and better stress management. Meditation can also help to improve one's focus.

It is crucial that one does not crumble under pressure. Meditation can help to develop a resilient generation of individuals who take stressors in their stride as opportunities for learning, growth and self-renewal.

Rhea Sharma, 13

Secondary 1 student

CALLING YOUNG READERS: If you are a student or aged 21 years or below, and want to air your opinion on any report or letter in The Straits Times, e-mail your letter to, with the subject header "Voices of Youth". Do include your age, school level and contact details, and the headline of the report/letter you refer to. Please keep to a length of 250 words.