200 share hopes and aspirations for women's development

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and for National Development Tan Kiat How, chairman of government feedback arm Reach, getting diners at East Coast Lagoon Food Village to give their views on Singapore women's development via an online
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and for National Development Tan Kiat How, chairman of government feedback arm Reach, getting diners at East Coast Lagoon Food Village to give their views on Singapore women's development via an online survey yesterday. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Despite the rain yesterday afternoon, over 200 park users shared their aspirations and hopes for women's development with government feedback arm Reach at East Coast Park ahead of International Women's Day today.

The feedback collected will inform an ongoing national review of women's issues, which has seen more than 1,800 people taking part in 37 dialogues over the past few months, said Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling, who was one of those who helped to collect responses.

The discussions, entitled Conversations on Singapore Women's Development, started in September last year as part of efforts to understand how to help women here further advance.

Sexual misconduct and violence against women are two pertinent issues that have been raised in these conversations, said Ms Sun, who is also Minister of State for Education and is one of three political office-holders leading the review.

Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam, who is also leading the review, and Mr Tan Kiat How, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and for National Development, joined Reach in the survey of Singaporeans' views yesterday.

Ms Sun said many of her residents found the ministerial statement by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam in Parliament last Friday helpful in clarifying the processes and principles of the sentencing framework.

The minister had announced proposals for stricter laws, following a review of penalties for hurt and sexual offences.

Ms Sun said she had spoken about the proposals with her constituents in two online dialogues over the weekend.

"They were heartened to know that the penalties around offences against women are being enhanced to continue to guarantee the protection and well-being of women and girls in Singapore," said Ms Sun.

Yesterday, officers from Reach and members of its supervisory panel handed out cookies and balloons to those they surveyed.

"We believe that every voice matters, whether it is in a coffee shop... or a bus interchange... We provide a trusted bridge between the government agencies and the people," said Mr Tan, who chairs Reach.

"We have made progress but we are not resting on our laurels, we are never done in championing the rights of women and this dialogue is one way for us to get views from residents and Singaporeans about what else we can focus on."

Responses from the ground will be consolidated in the form of a White Paper.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2021, with the headline 200 share hopes and aspirations for women's development. Subscribe