Parliament: Bicentennial office to work with over 270 community partners to highlight contributions of groups of women

When statues of other pioneers were erected alongside that of Sir Stamford Raffles last month, some had asked why figures such as Sang Nila Utama and Tan Tock Seng were included, but not any women such as tradeswoman and philanthropist Hajjah Fatimah. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Bicentennial Office will work with more than 270 community partners to highlight groups of women who have made important contributions to the Republic, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah on Tuesday (Feb 12).

These partners include the National University of Singapore's Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, to study the role of women philanthropists in the 1900s, she said.

The office is also working with the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations to develop a heritage trail linking iconic infrastructure and monuments built by samsui women in the 19th and 20th centuries.

"The Singapore Bicentennial is an opportunity for us to reflect on the long arc of Singapore's history," said Ms Indranee in her reply to Nominated MP Lim Sun Sun, who had asked whether the celebration will make a greater effort to reflect women's contributions.

When statues of other pioneers were erected alongside that of Sir Stamford Raffles by the Singapore River last month, some had asked why figures such as Sang Nila Utama and Tan Tock Seng were included, but not any women such as tradeswoman and philanthropist Hajjah Fatimah.

The bicentennial office said it used the years 1299 and 1819 as points of reference, and "could not find records that confirmed that she, or other notable female contributors, had arrived in 1819".

On Tuesday, Ms Indranee, who is a member of the ministerial steering committee for the bicentennial, said: "Through the events and projects planned for this year, the Singapore Bicentennial Office will highlight the contributions of the diverse communities and peoples who arrived on our shores before and after 1819. This includes women and men of different ethnicities."

She added that the bicentennial office has already started sharing social media stories of prominent women such as Hajjah Fatimah, who came to Singapore in the 1800s and built houses for the poor. She also donated money and land to build a mosque for her community.

Other stories shared online include those of Elizabeth Choy, a war heroine who was also the first and only woman member of the Legislative Council in 1951, as well as Checha Davies, a social worker and community volunteer who campaigned for women's economic, educational and social rights - leading to the passing of the Women's Charter in 1961.

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