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Recommendations for marginalised women and men part of Aware’s report on achieving gender equality

SINGAPORE — Establish clear guidelines in care and support that affirm students who are sexual minorities. Include disabled women in sex education programmes and sexual assault campaigns. These are just two new recommendations among several that a gender equality advocacy group has come up with in a new report.

Recommendations for marginalised women and men part of Aware’s report on achieving gender equality

Advocacy group Aware released a 239-page report titled "An Omnibus on Gender Equality" on July 29, 2021, setting out 88 recommendations on achieving gender equality.

  • Gender equality advocacy group Aware released a 239-page report containing 88 proposals on achieving gender equality
  • There were specific ones targeting marginalised women, including sexual minorities, migrant spouses, single unwed mothers, Muslim women and foreign domestic workers
  • It also laid out recommendations for men who face harmful expectations 

 

SINGAPORE — Establish clear guidelines in care and support that affirm students who are sexual minorities. Include disabled women in sex education programmes and sexual assault campaigns. These are just two new recommendations among several that a gender equality advocacy group has come up with in a new report. 

Released on Thursday (July 29) by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), the report also contained specific recommendations for marginalised women from many other walks of life, including single unwed mothers, foreign wives, foreign domestic workers, as well as Muslims. 

Aware said that the 239-page report, titled An Omnibus on Gender Equality, would take on an “explicitly intersectional approach to highlight the ways in which marginalised communities of women, for example, single mothers, migrant wives and disabled women, face gendered and other forms of intersecting barriers”. 

“Gender equality can only be achieved when all women are free from discrimination and violence,” it added. 

It also included recommendations for men, because the dominant form of masculinity upheld in Singapore is also harmful for them since they are socialised to not display their emotions from a young age, Aware noted. 

The association said that the report is the “culmination of 36 years of gender research and advocacy”.

It also marks the non-profit organisation’s second response to the Government’s ongoing review of gender equality, which began late last year. 

Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, said then that the purpose of this review is to shift the Singaporean culture and mindset on gender equality and respect for women, and it would culminate in a landmark White Paper on gender equality, which is due later this year. 

Earlier this month, Aware put up seven different policy wishlists pertaining to various issues or groups of people and the changes that it most wants Singapore policy-makers to enact.

In addition to recommendations to help marginalised women and men, Aware’s latest report also contained recommendations relating to women employment, such as equalising maternity and paternity leave. 

The Women's Wing and Young PAP of the People’s Action Party (PAP) put forth a set of recommendations on the same day. 

The following are some recommendations listed in Aware’s report. 

Disabled women facing employment difficulties 

  • Update and expand Singapore’s definition of disability, which now sees impairments as reasons why disabled individuals face barriers. This is to make it more aligned with the social model of disability, which refers to the notion that barriers are not caused by inherent impairment, but by society being designed for those without disabilities 

  • Introduce anti-discrimination legislation that covers disability, and ensure there are accessible channels to report and file incidents of discrimination

Protecting disabled women from violence and abuse 

  • Reflect the unique realities and inequalities that disabled women face in violence and abuse prevention programmes 

  • Ensure that all reporting mechanisms are accessible to and inclusive of persons with disabilities

Migrant spouses

  • Remove the Long-Term Visit Pass category so that all migrant spouses who qualify would be on the Long-Term Visit Pass Plus, which offers the most security among temporary passes 

  • Allow abused migrant spouses to renew their passes independently of their citizen spouses

  • Lift restrictions on employment options for these pass holders and grant them automatic right to work

Migrant domestic workers

  • Regulate working hours and define rest hours for foreign domestic workers

  • Ensure their right to switch employers freely

  • Abolish the security bond system

Single unwed parents

  • Recognise single unwed parents and their children as a family unit to grant them equal access to housing

  • Increase the current income cap of S$1,500 for rental housing and set the cap on a per-capita basis

  • Lower the minimum age eligible, currently set at 21 years old, for public rental housing

  • Waive resale levy for divorced single parents with care and control of children

  • Allow divorcing parents to apply for public rental housing upon obtaining an interim judgement of divorce

  • Equalise child-related benefits regardless of parents’ marital status

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+)

  • Repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men 

  • Establish clear guidelines on care and support that affirm LGBTQ+ students that are adopted by all public schools

  • Introduce policy that addresses gender-based bullying at schools 

Muslim women

  • Allow wearing of headscarves at all workplaces

  • Prohibit polygamy under the Administration of Muslim Law Act

  • Guarantee equal rights of women in all inheritance matters, and provide for choice of adjudication between Muslim law and civil law

  • Equalise the right to divorce, including the grounds for divorce and standards of proof, and abolish the rights of Muslim husbands to unilateral divorce

Changing men’s roles

  • Commission a national study on masculinities in Singapore

  • Increase accessibility of mental health services for men

  • Implement more family-friendly labour policies by equalising parental leave policies and legislating the right for all workers to request flexible work arrangements 

  • Strengthen teaching of gender equality and the effects of gender-role stereotyping in schools

Violence against women

  • Establish a specialised court to deal with all sexual violence cases

  • Subsidise the medical and legal cost that victims of sexual violence have to bear

  • Fund the expansion of community-based victim support services

  • Lead public education on eradicating rape myths or commit resources to support such efforts

  • Introduce media guidelines to inform reporting practices for cases of sexual violence

  • Increase accessibility of forensic medical examination by allowing all victim-survivors to undergo forensic medical examination, regardless of whether a police report has been filed

  • Legislate two days of paid leave for victims aiding in police investigations

  • Grant restitution or compensation to victims for injuries and trauma sustained, as well as any resultant loss in income or employment, or both

Violence against women in school campuses

  • Implement a national code of conduct for universities and polytechnics

  • Establish a restorative justice framework, which focuses on the harm inflicted on victims and the rehabilitation of the perpetrator as an alternative to retributive justice, which focuses on punishment, in these schools

Sexuality education

  • Implement comprehensive sexuality education comprising in-depth discussions of consent, gender-based violence and gender inequality, as well as media literacy

  • Scale up programmes targeted at educating parents on talking about topics of sex and consent with their children

  • Conduct or fund research on the sexual behaviour and educational needs of youth in Singapore

Related topics

Aware gender Sex Education sexual assault women's rights Muslim LGBTQ

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