Progress Singapore Party launches women's wing

Ms Hazel Poa (left) and Ms Wendy Low at PSP's media briefing on the party's women's wing on Jan 30, 2021. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) formally launched its women's wing on Saturday (Jan 30), and intends to work with advocacy groups and other political parties to come up with alternative policy ideas.

It will look at areas such as sexual discrimination, harassment and residency status for foreign spouses, said the women's wing head, Ms Wendy Low, at a press conference at the party headquarters in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.

The 44-year-old lawyer was part of the five-member PSP team that contested Tanjong Pagar GRC and lost in the general election last year, taking 36.9 per cent of the vote against the People's Action Party's 63.1 per cent.

The women's wing was set up in August last year, and has 250 members. The party has a total strength of around 2,000 members.

Ms Low said the wing was started after the general election, when there was an increase in the number of female political candidates, along with an increase in the number of female parliamentarians.

The PSP itself has Ms Hazel Poa in the House, one of two Non-Constituency MP seats the party secured in its electoral debut last year, following a close contest in West Coast GRC.

Its other NCMP is Mr Leong Mun Wai.

"We do see that women are concerned about politics, but the forums which they may be given to express their concerns are sometimes quite limited. So it's with that background that the party has decided to bring about a more formal platform to the women's wing," said Ms Low.

She cited the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) as one group which the party will work with to form policy proposals.

"They will have their positions and we will have our considerations as well, but in terms of exchange of information and views, that will very much be on the cards."

Ms Low introduced the women's wing's manifesto, the Inclusivity Agenda, and said the group aims to facilitate dialogue on issues such as sexual discrimination and harassment and school bullying.

It will also explore the creation of something similar to Hong Kong's Equal Opportunities Commission, an independent body to help parties who complain about discrimination, based on gender, race, family status and so on.

The PSP women's wing agenda is to include a call for greater transparency in the criteria for the residency status of transnational spouses.

Ms Low added that the group will aim to validate the choices that Singaporean women are making, against traditional yardsticks in society, such as "whether you are a single mom, whether you've chosen to have a live-in partner but not be married formally, whether you have decided to make choices in life, that don't necessarily enable you to settle down and have children in the usual conventional model".

Ms Poa said it is more challenging to get women involved in politics because of the multiple roles they play in work and family life.

"Women also tend to be more concerned about getting the support of their family in what they do, so that is another hurdle we have to overcome," she noted.

Saturday's launch event at the PSP headquarters was also live-streamed on the party's Facebook page.

It included a panel discussion on a variety of issues, involving personalities such as social media influencer Preeti Nair and Ms Joanne Soo, a member of the first team of Singaporean women to climb Mount Everest, in 2009.

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