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Men and women are both given the right to vote in Singapore.

Politics

Motion passed in the Municipal Council Chamber to provide family planning advice once a week in three municipal infant welfare clinics. The government had previously been reluctant to provide public family planning services.

Reproductive Rights

A group of doctors, nurses, social workers and concerned citizens set up the Family Planning Association (FPA) after deeming the government’s actions insufficient. Constance Goh, a teacher and welfare worker, is its first President.

Reproductive Rights

Both the Singapore Council of Women (SCW) and Perstauan Pemudi Islam Singapura (PPIS) are established. The former spearheads a campaign against polygamy, while the latter advocates for an Islamic family court to protect the rights of married women.

Civil Society & Activism

With automatic registration, the number of women voters increases to 50% of the total voting population.

Politics

Chan Choy Siong, Ho Puay Choo and Oh Siew Chen start the Women’s League within the People’s Action Party (PAP). The Women’s League is instrumental in ensuring that the PAP committed to a policy of equal rights and opportunities for men and women.

Politics

Out of every 1000 men, about two-thirds are literate, while out of every 1000 women, just one third are literate.

Education

Chan Choy Siong, Ho Puay Choo and Felice Leon-Soh are elected to the City Council. The former two are from the People’s Action Party, and the latter from the Liberal Socialist Party.

Politics

The government sets up a Syariah Court to oversee marriage and family matters. Khatijun Nissa Siraj (also known as Mrs Mohamed Siraj) becomes the court’s very first social case worker.

Civil Society & Activism

In a bid to appeal to female voters, the People’s Action Party (PAP) campaigns with the slogan of “One Man, One Wife”. Five women – four from the PAP and one from the opposition Singapore People’s Alliance – are voted into the Legislative Assembly.

Politics

Girls make up 39 per cent of total enrolment in secondary and pre-university schools.

Education

Female enrolment at Singapore Polytechnic is about six per cent. It is 31 per cent at the National University of Singapore.

Education

The Housing Development Board (HDB) is established. HDB estates contribute to the emergence of two-income families, in line with the government’s objectives of encouraging more women to enter the workforce.

Family Work & Economy

Principle of equal pay for equal work was instituted in the civil service, though this does not apply to benefits.

Work & Economy

11 women stand for elections, but only three – Chan Choy Siong and Avadai Dhanam (also known as Mrs Devan Nair) from the People’s Action Party (PAP) and Loh Miaw Gong from Barisan Sosialis – won. Low Miaw Gong was unable to keep her seat – she was arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) less than a month after the election.

Politics

Nurses go on a five-day strike to demand better wages and working conditions.

Work & Economy

The Family Planning Association has 29 clinics in Singapore – 26 of which are operating in government health institutions.

Reproductive Rights

Parliament passes the Administration of the Muslim Law Act (AMLA), which comes into effect two years later in 1968, and defines the powers of the the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Syariah Court, and the Registry of Muslim Marriages.

Family

Kandang Kerbau Hospital (KKH) delivers 39,835 babies, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “largest number of births in a single maternity facility”.

Reproductive Rights

The government took over family planning services. It establishes the Family Planning and Population Board (FPPB).

Reproductive Rights

A new curriculum makes technical studies compulsory at the lower secondary level for all boys, but only 50 per cent of girls.

Education

The Employment Act is enacted, but foreign domestic workers are excluded.

Migration

54% of females are literate, as compared to 83% of males.

Education

Chan Choy Siong, the only woman left in Parliament, retires from politics. For the next 14 years Parliament will be completely male-dominated.

Politics

The Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) is formed to take on voluntary services previously done by the wives of British officers stationed in Singapore.

Civil Society & Activism

The Abortion Act is enacted. It still requires women to gain consent from the Termination of Pregnancy Authorisation Board. If the woman is under 18, she will have to seek the consent of her parents or guardian.

Reproductive Rights

The Voluntary Sterilisation Act is enacted. A Eugenics Board is established to assess application for voluntary sterilisations.

Reproductive Rights

The Singapore Council of Women (SCW), which had run out of steam after achieving its goal in 1961, is deregistered.

Civil Society & Activism

Nallammah Ruth Tan, a doctor, academic and writer, calls for a new national council of women to represent all women in Singapore and involve women in the nation-building process.

Civil Society & Activism

The Singapore Business & Professional Women’s Association (SBPWA) is established to help working women advance their careers and professions.


Civil Society & Activism

The government introduces the Stop At Two campaign to deal with population growth.

Reproductive Rights

16 practising lawyers form the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers (SAWL), focusing on the welfare and legal protection of women and children.

Civil Society & Activism

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, speaking at a NTUC event, expresses concern that equality for women in education and the economy will lead to family breakdown.

Education

The Women’s League in the People’s Action Party (PAP) becomes defunct.

Politics

Replacement fertility level drops to 2.1 children per woman, not only due to the success of Stop at Two, but also women’s higher educational levels, their increasing participation in the workforce, family nuclearisation and better living conditions.

Family

Technical Studies is no longer compulsory for girls in school, but still remains compulsory for boys.

Education

A new work permit scheme allows employers to hire migrant labour, including domestic workers, from a wider choice of neighbouring countries in order to ease the labour shortage.

Migration

The government imposes a quota that restricts women to only one-third of the medical student body at the National University of Singapore. The justification is that medical training for women would be a poor return on investment, since women are assumed to leave the medical profession once they get married and have children.

Education

Leaena Tambyah helps the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) set up a playgroup for children with disabilities. This playgroup forms the foundation for what will become AWWA School.

Civil Society & Activism

The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) is incorporated as an umbrella group for women’s organisations.

Civil Society & Activism

Girls make up 51 per cent of total enrolment in secondary and pre-university schools.

Education

Father Guillaume Arotçarena sets up the Geylang Catholic Centre, which went on to provide assistance to battered women and migrant workers – among them, many Filipino domestic workers.

Migration

The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) holds, as one of its first events, a forum on violence against women.

Violence Against Women

Lee Kuan Yew’s National Day Rally speech sparks off the Great Marriage Debate, during which policies were enacted to encourage better-educated women to get married and have more children.

Civil Society & Activism Reproductive Rights

Women return to Parliament after a 14-year absence with the election of Dixie Tan, Aline Wong and Yu-Foo Yee Shoon.

Politics

The Graduate Mothers’ Priority Scheme – which gave priority entry to primary school to the children of graduate mothers – is introduced to much controversy. It is withdrawn later in the year.

Civil Society & Activism Education Politics Reproductive Rights

Zaibun Siraj and Vivienne Wee organise the “Women’s Choices, Women’s Lives” forum, which led to the eventual formation of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE).

Civil Society & Activism

The Social Development Unit (SDU) is set up to encourage matches between graduate men and women.

Education Reproductive Rights

A government Task Force to encourage female labour force participation publishes a report.

Work & Economy

A year after the “Women’s Choices, Women’s Lives” forum, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) is formed to advocate for gender equality in Singapore.

Civil Society & Activism

It becomes compulsory for all girls in secondary schools to study Home Economics, with the option of Technical Studies removed.

Education

AWARE holds a forum on violence against women, presenting the results of their research project on violence in the home.

Violence Against Women

In a bid to deal with prolonged low fertility rates, the government replaces the Stop At Two campaign with the Have Three Or More (If You Can Afford It) initiative.

Violence Against Women Reproductive Rights

A group of counsellors and social workers set up the Society Against Family Violence to tackle structural causes of violence by advocating for change on the policy level, as well as offering training for fellow practitioners on helping clients who were victims.

Violence Against Women

The government implements mandatory pre- and post-abortion counselling. However, this counselling is not mandatory for women without at least some secondary school education.

Reproductive Rights

Seet Ai Mee is voted into Parliament, joining Aline Wong, Dixie Tan and Yu-Foo Yee Shoon. She is appointed Minister of State for Education and Community Development shortly after.

Politics

AWARE and the Singapore Association of Women Lawyers (SAWL) launch Men, Women and Violence, a handbook for women on their legal rights.

Violence Against Women

The People’s Action Party (PAP) sets up the Women’s Wing, aimed to empower women to become more vocal and active in politics.

Politics

17.8 per cent of households in Singapore are headed by women.

Family

Seet Ai Mee becomes Acting Minister for Community Development. As she is not considered a full Minister, the Cabinet remains men-only.

Politics

Leaena Tambyah introduces a mobile therapy service called Therapy and Education for Children in Mainstream Education, which provides assistance to children whose parents could not afford the money or the time for therapy sessions in hospitals.

Civil Society & Activism

75.6 per cent of women between the ages of 25 to 34 remain in the labour force, even if they were married with children.

Education

Female enrolment at Singapore Polytechnic is 36 per cent. It is 54 per cent at the National University of Singapore.

Education

AWARE sets up a helpline to offer support to women in distress.

Violence Against Women

Kanwaljit Soin becomes the first female Nominated Member of Parliament. An active member of AWARE, she once asked Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong why gender was not considered as well as ethnicity in the formation of Group Representative Constituencies.

Politics

The policy of Home Economics for Girls and Technical Studies for boys was rescinded.

Education

Nominated MP Dr Kanwaljit Soin unsuccessfully challenges the medical school quota in Parliament.

Education

Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew declared that the government has been "young, ignorant and idealistic" when it gave women equal rights.

Family

In his National Day Rally speech Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said that 'rights and benefits targeted at the family would be channelled through the man, and laws and rules would be framed towards this objective'.

Family

Dr Kanwaljit Soin introduces the Family Violence Bill as a Private Member’s Bill, seeking legislation to provide more protection to victims of domestic abuse. The Bill is defeated.

Politics Violence Against Women

Singapore accedes to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). As a member state, Singapore will have to submit regular reports showing that progress has been made in dealing with violence against women.

Violence Against Women

Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion is hanged for the murder of another Filipina domestic worker and a Singaporean boy. The case sheds light on the exploitative and inhumane treatment of foreign domestic workers.

Migration

Kanwaljit Soin introduces the Family Violence Bill as a Private Member’s Bill, seeking legislation to provide more protection to victims of domestic abuse.

Politics Violence Against Women

Amendments are made to the Women’s Charter. Among them are provisions - suggested in the defeated Family Violence Bill - that expand protections to victims of violence, as well as recognition of the right of post-operative transgender individuals to enter heterosexual marriages according to the gender marker on their identity cards.

Violence Against Women

Both Home Economics and Design and Technology have been made compulsory for all secondary school students.

Education

The Association of Women Doctors (Singapore) is set up. Members decide to carry out a survey survey of all doctors registered with the Singapore Medical Council about their type of practice, level of fulfillment, marriage status, children etc. They found that only a small minority of both men and women drop out of medical practice.

Education

The Singapore Committee for UN Women, originally known as UNIFEM Singapore, is set up to support both local and international efforts to “provide women and young girls with access to leadership development, economic independence and a life free of violence and abuse.”

Civil Society & Activism

Policymakers announce that Singaporean women will be allowed to sponsor their foreign spouses for citizenship. Previously, only Singaporean men were allowed to do so, while the foreign spouses of Singaporean women could only achieve permanent residency by attaining full-time employment and a work visa.

Migration

The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) sets up the Star Shelter, the first secular women’s shelter.

Violence Against Women

Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVE), the first family violence specialist centre, is established to work with both victims and perpetrators of violence. PAVE’s wide range of services include counselling and casework interventions, preventive programmes for families, legal advice, application for PPOs (through video conferencing), medical services, and support groups for victims, perpetrators and families affected by violence.

Violence Against Women

The Public Education Committee on Family is formed as part of efforts to manage the low fertility rate. The Committee supports the initiatives of the Ministerial Committee on Marriage and Procreation, formed in the same year.

Family

Aidha starts as a financial management programme for foreign domestic workers. It later grows to become a registered charity in 2011, seeing an annual enrolment of several hundred foreign domestic workers in business, management, computer literacy, and communication courses.

Migration

Lim Hwee Hua becomes the first female Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

Politics

The quota restricting women to one-third of the medical school student body is rescinded.

Education

The total Central Provident Fund (CPF) for women aged 40 and above is $19.9 million, compared to $33.1 million for men. A study by the Tsao Foundation and AWARE later finds that because they have spent their lives performing unpaid housekeeping and caregiving work, many women above the age of 60 have no CPF savings.

Work & Economy

Around 23 per cent of marriages involving at least one Singaporean citizen are between a citizen and a non-citizen. Eight out of ten of those marriages involve Singaporean grooms and non-resident wives.

Migration

The Constitution is amended to allow overseas-born children to acquire citizenship through their Singaporean mothers.

Family Migration

Migrant rights groups the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) are set up to provide support for migrant workers.

Migration

Adoption leave is introduced so that parents can spend time with their adopted child.

Family

The government announces that female civil servants will be able to enjoy the same medical benefits for their dependants as their male counterparts.

Family

Female civil service officers are now allowed to claim medical benefits for both themselves and their dependants. Previously, only male officers were permitted to do so.

Work & Economy

SgButterfly is set up. It grows into Singapore’s first and largest transgender portal.

LBT

Licensing regulations for indoor public talks are relaxed, making IndigNation – a monthly LGBT pride season comprising a wide variety of activities – possible. IndigNation becomes an annual event.

LBT

SAFE Singapore, a support group and resource centre for friends and family of LGBTQ people, is set up.

LBT

Migrant Voices is registered to conduct arts events relating to migrant workers.

Migration

Provisions in the penal code are revised to enable charges of rape in a limited range of marital cases - where the spouses are living apart, proceedings for divorce or separation are in progress, or a Personal Protection Order (PPO) has been sought or obtained.

Violence Against Women

The Tripartite Workgroup on Enhancing Employment Choices for Women, led by deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Halimah Yacob, is formed. The group introduces schemes that facilitate non-working women’s entrance or return to the workforce, while helping women remain in the workforce.

Work & Economy

A survey by AWARE finds that more than 50 per cent of respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment at work.

Violence Against Women Work & Economy

The Humanitarian Organisation of Migration Economics (HOME), UNIFEM Singapore (now UN Women) and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) collaborate on the Day Off campaign advocating for a rest day a week for foreign domestic workers.

Civil Society & Activism Migration

Research done by AWARE found that more than 50 per cent of respondents of a randomised survey said they had experienced harassment at work.

Violence Against Women Work & Economy

Lim Hwee Hua is appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Transport. She is the first woman in the Cabinet of Singapore.

Politics

AWARE is taken by surprise when a group of women from a conservative church, objecting to the organisation’s sexuality education, takes over the Executive Committee. After several months control is wrested back through an Extraordinary General Meeting that sees a record number of 3,000 people signing up to be AWARE members.

Civil Society & Activism Reproductive Rights LBT

The No To Rape campaign gathers over 3,600 signatures on an online petition to the Prime Minister to abolish marital immunity for rape.

Violence Against Women

The government establishes the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons to tackle human and sex trafficking.

Migration

21.6 per cent of households in Singapore are headed by women.

Family

Lim Hwee Hua loses her seat in the 2011 General Elections, leaving the Cabinet entirely male-dominated until Grace Fu was promoted to full Minister in 2012.

Politics

Inspired by similar movements around the world, young activists in Singapore – many drawn from the punk community – get together to organise SlutWalk in Singapore. The campaign attempts to reclaim the word “slut”, as well as tackle rape culture and victim-blaming.

Civil Society & Activism

Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act is repealed, so that evidence of a sexual assault victim’s ‘immoral character’ can no longer be used during trial to question her credibility.

Violence Against Women

AWARE launches the Sexual Assault Befriender Service (SABS) to support women who have faced sexual assault. Minister for Law K. Shanmugam speaks at the launch.

Violence Against Women

The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) establishes a Human Trafficking Resource Centre.

Migration

Singapore is one of nine governments who abstain from voting in the International Labor Organisation (ILO) convention in Geneva to grant domestic workers greater protection from exploitation.

Migration

Government introduces the Long Term Visit Pass-Plus (LTVP+) to help foreign spouses who are not yet able to get permanent residency, granting them a longer period of residency and eligibility for healthcare and employment benefits.

Migration

AWARE organises the Sexual Harassment OUT! campaign, speaking out against sexual harassment in the workplace. It eventually contributes to enactment of the Protection From Harassment Act

Violence Against Women

Amendments to the Voluntary Sterilisation Act made, accepting AWARE’s recommendation that a Court Order be required before the sterilisation of persons who lack mental capacity to decide on such matters can be carried out

Reproductive Rights

Halimah Yacob becomes the first female Speaker of Parliament.

Politics

Lee Lilian from the Workers’ Party wins the by-election in Punggol East Single Member Constituency.

Politics

The We Can! campaign is launched. Mainly spearheaded by the Association of Women for Action and Research, We Can! focuses on public education, seeking to tackle attitudes and practices that enable violence against women.

Civil Society & Activism

The law is changed to stipulate a mandatory rest day a week for foreign domestic workers in principle, though in practice the implementation of this remains doubtful in subsequent years.

Migration

Anthony Chen’s film Ilo Ilo is released to widespread acclaim. Revolving around the story of a young boy and his Filipino domestic worker, the film sparked conversations about the relationship between foreign domestic workers and the families they work for.

Migration

Lyrics glorifying the raping of women in ‘Purple Light’, a National Service marching song, are banned after AWARE appeals to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Violence Against Women

The government introduces shared parental and child care leave benefits as part of the enhanced Marriage & Parenthood package, which is aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to have more children.

Family Work & Economy

Working fathers are now eligible for one week of paid paternity leave within 16 weeks from the child’s birth.

Family Work & Economy

The Prevention of Human Trafficking Act is passed, giving enforcement agencies greater powers to investigate and prosecute trafficking activities, though its approach is criticised by a coalition of women’s and migrants’ rights groups.

Migration Violence Against Women

The Protection From Harassment Act is passed. Cyberbullying and stalking are now covered under the law, and victims can seek protection orders against harassers, though the Act stops short of employer responsibility for preventing and addressing workplace harassment.

Violence Against Women

AWARE launches the Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC), the first drop-in centre offering free and confidential services for individuals who have faced sexual assault. The SACC also provides services previously offered by the Sexual Assault Befrienders Service (SABS).

Violence Against Women

A report by the Ministry of Social and Family Development shows that 58.6 per cent of women in Singapore have entered the workforce, compared to 75.9 per cent of men.

Work & Economy

A report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute finds that only 7.9 per cent of those sitting on the boards of companies are women. This garners substantial public attention and a Diversity Action Committee made up of senior political and business figures is formed to address the question of more diverse board representation.

Work & Economy

The Prevention Against Human Trafficking Act is passed, giving enforcement agencies greater powers to investigate and prosecute trafficking activities, though its approach is criticised by a coalition of women’s and migrants’ rights groups.

Migration Violence Against Women

A new Cabinet is announced after the General Election. Only five out of 37 office holders are women, and Grace Fu remains the only woman who is full Minister, though this time with her own portfolio - Culture, Community and Youth.

Politics

In the General Election, no party’s slate is more than 27 per cent women, and two parties field no women at all. A National Solidarity Party candidate comes under fire for describing his rival’s new mother status as a “weakness”.

Politics

The government announces the introduction of a second week of paternity leave. It is optional for employers, but those who implement it will receive state support.

Family Work & Economy

In September, Singapore accedes to the United Nations protocol against trafficking in persons.

Migration Violence Against Women

In November, the White Ribbon campaign comes to Singapore - with prominent men such as Minister K Shanmugam and Adrian Pang speaking up publicly about violence against women.

Violence Against Women