In 2017 we shouldn’t really need a bunch of organisations designed to help empower women, but we do. Here are eight different groups who are helping women and girls around the world and right here in Singapore
A Singapore-based organisation, Aidha (a Sanskrit word meaning “that to which we aspire”) provides financial literacy programmes, computer literacy programmes and entrepreneurial skills for Singapore’s foreign domestic workers and low-income women. The aim is to help women help themselves by launching their own businesses or helping them invest in items like livestock in their home countries to better protect them from the cycle of poverty. The charity says that by helping one woman, it can help improve nine more lives.
For more information, go to www.aidha.org
Combining social responsibility and innovative business practices, Singapore organisation, CRIB Society (Creating Responsible and Innovative Businesses), works more from the top down with female entrepreneurs and business owners to help them create opportunities and jobs for other women. Based around a group of mentors who support, inspire and assist each other as well as emerging entrepreneurs, CRIB offers things like seminars, mentorships, a ‘matching’ programme that puts together potential co-founders for new businesses and an incubator programme. The who’s who of Singapore’s female entrepreneurs are all involved, and it’s a great place to find contacts if you’re just starting down the road to entrepreneurship.
For more information, go to www.crib.com.sg
Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)
The venerable Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) is the national coordinating body of women’s organisations in Singapore. It was founded in 1980 and represents 58 different organisations for supporting and empowering women in Singapore. SCWO aims to promote ‘Equal Space, Equal Voice and Equal Worth’ for women in Singapore via outreach programmes and practical help like Star Shelter ‒ the only secular crisis centre in Singapore ‒ that offers safe temporary refuge for women and children who are victims of family violence. It also runs the Maintenance Support Central ‒ a one-stop drop-in centre that provides advice and assistance with problems relating to payment of court-ordered maintenance ‒ and free Legal Clinics with the support of volunteer lawyers from Singapore Association of Women Lawyers (SAWL), for women residing in Singapore who are facing legal issues on personal matters and do not have legal advice or representation and who are unable to afford a lawyer; there is also a Muslim Law Legal Clinic supported by the Law Society of Singapore’s Muslim Law Practice Committee. SCWO gets a small amount of funding from the Singapore government, but this covers less than 30% of its costs.
For more information, go to www.scwo.org.sg
Known now as UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women is part of the United Nations and began in 2011 (which, in itself, was kind of depressing that it took so long). There are lots of different divisions that cover things like the Advancement of Women, research and training, a Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The Singapore chapter has worked for and achieved a mandatory rest day for Foreign Domestic Workers, and were part of creating Singapore’s National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
For more information, go to www.unwomen-nc.org.sg
Women Empowerment Organisation, Iraq
While war continues in many places throughout the Middle East, people often forget how difficult it is to rebuild and recover, particularly for women who are often left alone in the aftermath of war. The Women Empowerment Organisation based in Erbil, Iraq, is a non-government, voluntary, independent organisation, established in 2004. Its aim is to assist Iraqi women to improve their lives, and those of their families through social, political, economic and cultural participation. WEO offers training, seminars and workshops that promote women’s and human rights, gender equality, economic engagement and political participation, as well as fights against discrimination against women and to protect their rights within the Iraqi legal system.
For more information, go to www.weoiraq.org
Wings is a non-profit organisation based in Singapore focused on promoting active ageing for women, particularly for those from low-income families. The organisation offers skills and training, especially in the area of financial planning for the future, as well as offering support for a healthier and more active lifestyle. Wings is also planning to develop more services and programmes for skills development, employment and entrepreneurship for older women in Singapore.
For more information, go to wings.sg
Based in America, CARE is probably one of the best known global organisations for the empowerment of women around the world; although its mission is to ‘end poverty’, this has seen CARE focus on women and girls because the organisation says that it’s not possible to ‘overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities’. CARE has a huge number of programmes around the world that empower women and girls via education, micro-loans, training and infrastructure development.
For more information, go to www.care.org
Zaya Learning Labs
When it comes to empowering women, one of the most useful things to do is to improve their access to quality education. Based on a non-profit organisation known as Teach A Class Foundation that was founded in 2012 by Neil D’Souza, Zaya Learning Labs is an online education resource that helps any low-cost private school in the world to access a fully adaptive curriculum for under US$2 per child per month. The system includes software and a portable device that comes with Wi-Fi, storage, server and battery capabilities that also be used offline for remote schools. While the teaching is not limited to girls, these tools help empower the teachers themselves, many of whom are women in remote and isolated developing regions. In Singapore Zaya Learning Labs is supported by the DBS Foundation and its story inspired DBS Sparks that stars Singapore heartthrob Adrian Pang. Check out the teaser; the episode will be launched soon. If you’re interested in volunteering Neil from Zaya is very happy to take in interns from Singapore so contact him via the site.
For more information, go to zaya.in
Want to do some good and volunteer? Read our story Volunteering in Singapore: Charities, donations, and social enterprises to help out. If you’re more into helping out the environment, read our story Hiking in Singapore: Quak Wan Ling on Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and other green spots in the city