SHE comments in article on new MSF progress report on women’s development 10 May 2024

SHE's comments were included in a recent Straits Times article on the new report by the Ministry of Social and Family Development charting the progress of women’s development since the 2022 White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development.


For context, when contacted by the Straits Times, three questions were put to SHE, to which our responses were as follows:

1. All the recent initiatives and changes made in Singapore that aim to further women's development have been encouraging, but what more needs to be done? Are there any areas in particular that need more attention? 

The underlying issue that needs to be addressed is gender mindset changes, so that men and women are not entrenched in traditional gender stereotypes. 

A recent social experiment SHE conducted found that despite our beliefs that women and men were treated fairly and equally in Singapore, traditional gender stereotypes still shaped their mindsets and behaviour. For example, career success is tied to male-associated traits. We found a preference to promote an “ambitious and assertive” individual over a “caring and nurturing” one, with most people identifying the “ambitious and assertive” one as male.

As mindsets underpin societal changes, we must change them if we are to overturn the biases which impact women at home, work and in society.

For example, the number of female victims of rape, and victims of outrage of modesty are still relatively high despite tougher penalties.  Is this an area of concern and if so, what should be our next step? 

Violence against women continues to be a concern and an urgent area of work, notwithstanding tougher criminal penalties and our laws.

There are two factors exacerbating the problem. The first is the increasing hyper-sexualisation and objectification of women online fuelled by the mass adoption of social media. The second is the fact that bad actors enjoy a cloak of anonymity online. 

Our research has also found women were twice as likely to report encountering online sexual harassment than men. Our young women are especially concerned about online harms such as image-based sexual abuse, with close to 6 in 10 indicating this in our recent survey with youth. 

Developments in generative AI powering the creation of deepfake videos (more than 90% of deepfake porn videos are of women) will not only increase the problem, but also accelerate its harms.

2. Besides the Government, is it important for other parts of society to do its part to improve gender equality? How can a young person do their part, for example?

Absolutely.  To create a gender equal society, every member of the community must participate, which is why SHE believes in partnerships and getting more male allies. 

Young people have an especially important part to play, as they are growing up in a world where rapid advances in technology are driving social change at an accelerated pace. 
3. What is your hope for the women of Singapore in the future? What kind of world or country do you hope for them to live and prosper in? 

We hope for a Singapore and a world where gender is irrelevant, and every individual can build their identities and curate their lives in a way that best suits them.


SHE has more comments to make on the report, so stay tuned!