Constance Singam takes us on a trip through history, as she explains First Wave Feminism (late 1800s to early 1900s) and Second Wave Feminism (1960s to 1980s), not just in the West but also its manifestations in Asia.
The Singapore Council of Women, formed in 1952, was the first women’s organisation to explicitly critique the state of gender relations. In particular, they spoke out against polygamy, leading to the practice being outlawed for non-Muslims in 1961.
In “Perempuan”, a collection of 31 stories from young Muslim women in Singapore, Joyene Nazatul talks about being lesbian, Malay, and the target of rape jokes.
Those who challenge the status quo must inevitably deal with anger and discomfort. AWARE was no different. Lenore Lyons writes about the tensions that AWARE faced from the public, and from amongst its own members.
In the early 1980s, to increase the birth rate, the government ran a series of campaigns using slogans such as: “Are you giving men the wrong idea?” “Life will be lonely without a family. Don’t leave it too late.” The suggestion that women’s primary role was of wife and mother left a sour taste for … More Why did Singapore need a women’s rights organisation?
Today, polygamy is illegal for non-Muslim Singaporeans. However, it did not always use to be this way. Lenore Lyons writes about the women’s rights activists who tirelessly campaigned to outlaw polygamy in the 1980s.
“Many of us felt the injustice of being ordered around, being told to do this or that, but never being consulted.” AWARE was born in 1985, when the government was embarking on large-scale campaigns to address the falling fertility rate.