Voices of youth: Inculcate mutual respect from a young age to achieve progress in gender equality

Singapore has advanced tremendously in terms of gender equality, and is one of the safest places for women in the world.

But there is always more we can do as a society to achieve further progress in gender equality.

First, in instances of sexual assault and harassment, we must never blame victims or shame them to make them feel responsible for what happened.

Furthermore, should such incidents occur, it is imperative that society's responses be of empathy and compassion, instead of condemnation. Showing support to victims helps them feel less alone, and lends them the strength to speak out.

Second, start to have conversations on gender equality at a young age.

In a world where opportunities for everyone are increasing, we should educate all children to take full advantage of them and not be restricted by gender roles.

Talents, abilities and aspirations should not be constrained by gender. When values such as mutual respect are inculcated from a young age, people are more likely to see each other as equals, regardless of gender.

Lastly, clear, unequivocal consent is important. If someone shows discomfort or says "no", the decision should be honoured, instead of brushed aside or ignored. Asking for consent takes into account the needs of both parties, and ensures that their boundaries are not crossed.

Women are an integral part of society - as friends, partners, sisters, mothers and, most importantly, people. When we value their worth, we create a more equal and progressive society for ourselves and future generations.

Kooi Xiu Min, 18

JC2 student

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