PAP launches movement calling on Singaporeans to take action for women

Minister for Communications and Information and PAP Women's Wing chairman Josephine Teo (third from left) launching an online initiative by the party titled #ActionForHer at the PAP's annual Women's Wing conference on Sept 18, 2021.
Minister for Communications and Information and PAP Women's Wing chairman Josephine Teo (third from left) launching an online initiative by the party titled #ActionForHer at the PAP's annual Women's Wing conference on Sept 18, 2021.PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ACTION PARTY

SINGAPORE - The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) on Saturday (Sept 18) launched an initiative calling on Singaporeans to pledge support to and take action for women here.

Announcing the #ActionForHer campaign at the PAP's annual Women's Wing conference, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said: "It's not about waiting for someone else to take action. It's about us being able and being willing to do something, one more thing for that special 'her' in our lives.

"This can be anyone - our mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, domestic helpers."

From now till March 8 next year, Singaporeans can post their pledges on social media with the hashtag #ActionForHer or visit www.actionforher.sg to join the movement.

This comes in a year designated by Singapore as the Year of Celebrating SG Women, and on the heels of the PAP's Women and Youth wings submitting to the Government last month a paper on improving women's development, noted Mrs Teo, who chairs the Women's Wing.

The party hopes its recommendations will be considered in an ongoing government review of issues around gender equality, which will culminate in a White Paper to be presented in Parliament early next year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the timeline for the White Paper in a separate event earlier on Saturday.

He later delivered the opening remarks for the PAP's women's conference, which was streamed on the online Zoom platform to more than 500 attendees.

PM Lee recalled how his late mother, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, had delivered a short radio broadcast - her first and only political speech - during the PAP's campaigning in the 1959 election.

Said PM Lee: "She said that the PAP was the only party to have paid attention to the problem of women rights.

"After winning the election and taking office, the PAP Government passed the Women's Charter in 1961 to institutionalise the equal standing of men and women in marriage, and ensure the welfare and protection of women in Singapore."

Mrs Teo told the media at the event that there was a lot to celebrate, but the job was not done.

She said: "There is significant progress made by women all around. But we are very conscious, especially through our ground interactions and our engagements with women from all walks of life, that there are areas for improvement."

Several suggestions were raised by women leaders at two panel discussions held earlier, along with views on how women can be better supported.

Former Nominated MP Eunice Olsen, who now runs her own media and communications consultancy, said the media and advertising industries could play a key role in portraying role models for girls and young women to emulate in real life.

She pointed to how the casting of Gillian Anderson as a forensic scientist and lead in hit television show The X-Files led to an increase in the number of women entering the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) field.

Ms Joan Poh, a nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and rower who competed at the Tokyo Olympics this year, said there was a need for women to break out of, and not be boxed in by, social norms and expectations.

For example, for female athletes, being muscular is not ideal and being too tanned is not considered feminine; and even in nursing and caregiving professions, there are notions that a woman should be small and dainty, said Ms Poh.

Former MP Ho Geok Choo had a message in closing, for both women and men.

The chief executive of Human Capital Singapore, a competency training centre, said: "To the ladies out there, I would say go and advance yourself, network, learn to position your strengths and, most importantly, learn to overcome imposter syndrome.

"To the men, I would appeal to them as change agents, to work with women to reset cultures, policies, processes, systems and make it possible for womenfolk to be more confident and to have that equal recognition and equal rights."