Aware raises $357,000 to mark 30 years of fighting for gender equality

SINGAPORE - A total of $357,000 was raised at The Association of Women for Action and Research's (Aware's) largest ever fundraising ball on Saturday night.

The non-profit group, which assists women in crisis and promotes gender equality, marked its 30th anniversary with a 500-guest gala at Shangri-La Hotel.

The funds will go towards Aware's programmes such as #asinglelove, a new collaboration between Aware, charity Daughters of Tomorrow and creative agency Kinetic to support single parents.

The project aims to start a peer support network of at least 100 single mothers next year, offering them assistance and access to services such as emotional counselling, as well as skills training and employment mentoring.

The #asinglelove campaign will also promote inclusion and equality for single parents.

Aware executive director Corinna Lim said that the ball celebrated a landmark three decades for the group. "We are now ready for a new chapter and to move to the next level. #asinglelove encapsulates this and what Aware is all about - combining direct support with changing laws and social attitudes, to create a more inclusive and equal society."

The ball, which is Aware's fifth, also saw three local organisations recognised for their efforts towards gender equality.

Non-profit business school Aidha, which teaches foreign domestic workers how to manage their money and start businesses, took home the award in the non-governmental organisation category.

Since it was set up nine years ago to help these workers break out of the poverty cycle, Aidha has taught over 2,700 women, 714 in the last year alone.

More than 70 per cent of their students have succeeded in either opening small businesses of their own or investing in assets such as land and livestock.

Aware also gave its corporate award to bank Citi for its financial education programme for mature women, and its student award to Yale-NUS group The G Spot, which advocates gender equality and the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender(LGBT) individuals on campus.

Less illustrious were Aware's Alamak! awards, which single out the year's sexists. A six-week online poll voted in four "winners", culled from the barrage of statements about motherhood during this year's General Election (GE).

These included politicians such as National Solidarity Party (NSP) candidate Cheo Chai Chen, who called his GE opponent Ms Tin Pei Ling's status as a new mother a "weakness". Both had contested MacPherson SMC along with Workers' Party candidate Bernard Chen. Ms Tin, from the People's Action Party, won with 66 per cent of the votes.

Also nominated were social news website Mothership.sg editor Belmont Lay, who described NSP candidate Kevryn Lim's modelling photos as "unmotherly", and newspaper Today, for its headlines labelling the Singapore Democratic Party's Jaslyn Go a "mother-of-two" while introducing male candidates by their professions.

When approached for comment, Mr Cheo, 64, said: "I already said I regretted that comment (about Ms Tin). I did not mean that." He declined to remark on his nomination.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg