Categories
News & Updates Sexual Assault Violence Against Women

Let’s Unite! to end violence against women

Every act on every level counts! #16DaysSG

 

You might be wondering after #MeToo, #NowWhat?

Through the recent online movement, #MeToo, thousands of women around the world – and in Singapore – came forward to have open and honest conversations about their experiences of surviving sexual violence. #MeToo has not only foregrounded the prevalence of sexual violence in Singapore, but also the silence surrounding the issue. At the end of the day, a hashtag can only go so far: the onus lies on us to take action every day.

We Can! Singapore invites you to be a part of Let’s Unite, a 16-day campaign* to end violence against women. Start taking action these 16 Days, between 25th Nov – 10th Dec 2017 so we can galvanise everyone’s efforts and show that we are building a strong community of support.

If you start saying ‘violence against women happens in Singapore’ → More people will learn about it → Others will say it too → Perpetrators’ behaviours will not be excused → More survivors will seek help → State and social support for survivors will be improved → Violence against women will be on its way out

Tell others that you want to end violence against women – and encourage them to join you!

Start your #16DaysSG journey below.

 

 

 

 

 

*16 Days of Activism is a global campaign that calls on individuals, groups and organisations to stand together against violence against women by pledging their support and taking action from 25 November, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

Categories
Blog

Volunteers Open Call: White Ribbon Campaign 2016/7

We Can! Singapore has an exciting opportunity for volunteers and we hope you’ll come on board!

If you’re a boy or man (of any age), and would like to be part of an important and transformative journey to end gender-based violence, we hope you’ll come be part of our upcoming White Ribbon Campaign! The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.

Please read on for more details:

WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN 2016/17 ORGANISING TEAM

We Can! Singapore is gearing up to begin preparations for our White Ribbon Campaign 2016/7! The campaign will begin sometime between November 2016 to February 2017. The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. We Can! is looking for men and boys of all ages to join our organising team for our upcoming campaign!

Last year, the organising team put together thought-provoking videos about gender-based violence and a social media campaign, as well as organised a motorbike rally where male volunteers took to the streets to raise awareness about the campaign and distribute white ribbon pins to the public.

What will we do this year to raise awareness about gender-based violence? It’s up to you! If you’re a man and would like to be part of this important and transformative experience, we invite you to join our organising team! Your ideas and contributions will drive the upcoming White Ribbon Campaign and bring it to life.

No experience is necessary, just a heart for social change. (If you enjoy photography, videography, graphic design or are an avid social media user, that would be a bonus.) The organising team will start the planning process sometime in September 2016.

We can’t wait to hear your ideas—if you’re interested to join or need more details, please contact Gracia at [email protected] as soon as possible. We’d appreciate it if you spread the word to friends who might be interested as well. Thank you!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Categories
News & Updates

Free muralling workshop for the public!

PROGRAMME

We Can! Singapore and EtiquetteSG are organising FREE muralling workshops for the public! The 3-session workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to learn a new art form as well as express their unique identities and stories through it.

These interactive workshops run by experienced artists and facilitators are designed to create safe and stimulating spaces for people to have conversations about various aspects of their identity, share experiences and bond.

DETAILS

Duration: Three 2.5-hour sessions

Dates: 16, 23, 30 August 2016

Time: 4 – 6.30pm

Venue: AWARE Centre

Cost: FREE

Sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/qTBCI7x5uco8WSLB3

Feel free to contact Gracia at [email protected] for more information.

Don’t wait any longer–sign up now! 🙂

 

Registration closes: 14 August 2016
Categories
News & Updates

Free muralling workshops!

mural

 

PROGRAMME

We Can! Singapore and EtiquetteSG are organising FREE muralling workshops for the community! The 4-session workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to learn a new art form as well as express their unique identities and stories through it.

These interactive workshops run by experienced artists and facilitators are designed to create safe and stimulating spaces for people to have conversations about various aspects of their identity, share experiences and bond. The content can also be easily customised to fit the needs of a particular group.

DETAILS

Duration: Four 2-hour sessions

Pax: 10 – 20 participants

Venue: Your centre/space

Needed: A wall space for muralling (preferably indoors)

Cost: FREE

Feel free to contact Gracia at [email protected] for more information.

Categories
Blog

Change making in real life

Written by Sumithri Venketasubramanian, Change Maker

A couple oScreen Shot 2015-11-30 at 3.38.30 pmf days ago, I was scrolling through Everyday Feminism – as you do – and I came across a blog post: “You Don’t Need to Be Leading Marches for Your Activism to Matter – Here Are 5 Reasons Why”. It got me thinking about how the concepts of space and place influence our involvement in creating positive change.

Many of us have circles in which we feel comfortable talking about feminism and social justice, and these conversations often enrich our views on the inequalities of the world, at times giving us a sense of empowerment. And then there are those spaces where we choose to stay silent when jokes are cracked about women belonging in the kitchen – we might even feel pressured to give a little smile, just so as to not draw attention to yourself (“Why aren’t you laughing? Are you some kind of feminist or something?”). There are certain places where feminist discourse is encouraged,and others where it is jeered at.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 3.38.41 pmThere’s a phrase that goes “if you’re not fighting something, you’re enabling it”. That is, unless we’re making active efforts to go out into the world and advocate for big changes, breaking down injustices in the system and opening up the minds of society, we’re actually contributing to the discrimination and prejudices that certain people suffer as a result of due to how integrated these systems are with our everyday lives. So it would seem that if we really wanted to contribute to the battle against oppression, we would have to dedicate our lives to full-time advocacy and/or activism. But does this mean that we’ll have to stick to working with feminist organisations and groups which are influential in the women’s empowerment field? What about those feminists who have dreamed of being scientists for so much of their lives, or those who may want to open up their own bakery? Do we have to give up all of our personal (read: “selfish”) aspirations for the greater good?

The short answer is: no. The long answer is that it is not solely feminist bodies and lobby groups that can make a difference. In fact, it is in non-feminist spaces that have the greatest potential for change. As more overt forms of sexism are being increasingly frowned upon by society (though they still are very much in existence), prejudices begin to present themselves in the form of microaggressions – subtle comments and actions that are telling of the biases that one holds on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, class, appearance and/or other traits. And microaggressions are something which all of us experience – be it comments about how weak women are, or the dismissal of a woman’s anger because “she’s just on her period, don’t mind her”. The best part is: we all have the potential to make a difference.

Men’s role in gender advocacy

wrc_profilepicture_sAnd why should the burden (or honour, depending on how you see it) of ridding the world of gender-based injustices lie merely on those who suffer from them? After all, it is the privileged who have the power and means to influence systems in place which attempt to keep certain groups of people down.

The White Ribbon Campaign is a call by men around the world to their fellows, encouraging them to take a stand against violence against women. Movements like these are important, because they don’t attempt to hijack organisations and campaigns by women fighting for rights and opportunities. Rather, they attempt to take the spaces men already yield so much power and influence in and make them more feminist. It is in this approach to advocacy that institutionalised and systemic discrimination are challenged.

Feminism doesn’t just have to be about running a full-time social justice blog, or educating the masses about gender and sexism. Feminism is also in asking “wait, why is [the sexist joke that was just told] funny?”, and in speaking up against workplace harassment. Feminism is about feminism, wherever and whenever it is.

About the author: Sumithri is in a place in life where she knows what she wants to do, but also has yet to figure it out. Whatever it is, she hopes the world she leaves will be more just than the one she was born into.

Categories
Blog

A Change Maker’s perspective on change

Written by Jolanda Nava, Change Maker

Daryl Yang is a 22-year-old enrolled in the Yale-NUS/NUS Law Double Degree Programme. He is also the President of Yale-NUS’ Gender & Sexuality Alliance. I decided to interview him to find out what he thinks about change and change-making.

10847393_673306239461821_5085795308324159513_oWhat do you think are some of the problems that you see with gender around you?

Generally there is a lack of conversation and understanding of this very complex idea of gender. As a result, most people have very fixed ideas about what a boy or a girl should be and this leads to people who don’t fit into these boxes to be considered deviants, “problems” that need to be fixed.

I also find that gender in our society is defined by ideas of family and parenthood, in part because of the national campaign to increase birthrates. If you’re a woman, your “goal” should be to find a husband and have children; if you’re a man, you should be a breadwinner and take care of your household. This creates unfair and unrealistic expectations. I have friends who cannot accept that their girlfriends earn more than them, because of this idea that the man should be the breadwinner. Others feel like they have to keep up with this “I’m strong, I don’t have feelings” persona because they think that is what it means to be a man.

How then, do you start change?

“Change” is a big word and sometimes it feels scary to think about changing society. But I believe it is important we recognize that change does not happen quickly or overnight. It is going to take a long time before we can see the change we are advocating for, but we have to start somewhere, and spreading ideas is a good place to start from.

I think change starts with small things, like challenging stereotypes in your casual conversations with friends or just changing the language you use. It is about asking questions that can start a deeper reflection. When your friend tells you he doesn’t think he can accept it if his future wife earns more than him, ask them why they think so. Get them to think about where those ideas come from. It is about not saying things like “man up” or “don’t be such a girl”, because they perpetuate and reinforce negative stereotypes about what it means to be a guy or a girl.

We cannot be trapped by the idea that things have to change now, or we are going to feel discouraged and start thinking it is a lost battle. But every one of us can do small things to push a little, and we should recognize that each of us can only play a small yet important part. You have to put things into perspective.

Do you think that change starts with people, or with laws?

I think legal and social change have an interactive relationship. It is hard to say whether one should come before the other because there are pros and cons to either of them coming first. But they are not mutually exclusive, they should go hand in hand.

Different members of the community should advocate change in different areas of the community and at different levels. Personally, I am not yet able to advocate for legal change [Daryl is currently enrolled in the double degree of Liberal Arts + Law] but what I can do is influence the community and people around me.

G Spot LogoWhat do you do, personally, to start change?

I try to make myself someone that people can approach and talk to about these things. I want to achieve change through dialogue and conversations, so I try to be someone people can reach out to; I try to create a place around me where people can feel safe.

Sometimes we get angry when we face people that are ignorant or negative or pessimistic, and we respond in a way that does more harm than good. I think it is extremely important to develop the ability to put the anger aside and respond in a more helpful way. Shouting at someone will not help, we have to think about the kind of support we offer each other when we advocate change. The important question is: how are we helping the person in front of us to change?

Often we feel trapped within these social structures. Your friend might agree with you that what they are experiencing comes from social expectations, but they are still stuck in that position and they might find it impossible to escape. So it is important to help creating an environment that allows people to feel comfortable about themselves and to find a way out.

Is there an example of small changes that you have witnessed?

Two semesters ago we hosted a panel on gender, it was only a conversation about it. Yet, it led some people in the audience decide that they wanted to do something for the transgender community, which lead to a small project aimed at fundraising and raising awareness. Even if the panel was just people sharing their experiences, the ripple effects were many.

Most importantly, I think when you do something, no matter how small, it will help encourage and inspire people to do something too.

About the author: Jolanda is a university students learning about international relations and having fun with programming classes. She not-so-secretly enjoys challenging gender stereotypes and when she grows up she wants to be a superhero.

Categories
Blog

What Makes a Man

Written by Leow Yangfa, Change Maker, as part of our “What does being a man mean to you?” blog series. Submit your responses to [email protected]!

Being a son means I am grateful for my parents’ loving support, good health and continued presence. Being a brother means I am fortunate enough to have two women with whom I will have life-long relationships. Being a nephew means I have aunts and uncles who are there to remind me I’m part of a larger family. Being an uncle means I have relationships with five very different young women whom I will risk my life to protect.

Being of Chinese-Hakka-Peranakan heritage means I am connected to a long history of culture, language and traditions. Being a Singlish-speaking Singaporean means I can be uptight, eccentric, arrogant, kiasu, kiasee and patriotic, all at the same time.

Being gay means I have an awareness of what it means to be feared, hated, demonised…and different. Being a survivor of suicide and sexual assault means I know how it feels to be vulnerable.

Being vegetarian means I would like to practise kindness in my daily habits. Being an atheist means I only have this life to live. Being a social worker means I am self-aware and seek purpose in my life.

Being a man to me means….all of the above.

About the Author: Leow Yangfa is the Executive Director of Oogachaga, a community-based professional counselling, support & personal development organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, couples & families.

Categories
Blog

RALLY: for art, music and conversations for change


WE CAN POSTER - 4 SEPT SMALLRALLY,
v. coming together for a common purpose.

Celebrate solidarity, support, collaboration and allyship at We Can! Arts Fest on December 6 – back for the third year in a row!

What does it mean to be an ally for gender equality? How can we support the causes we feel strongly about without overpowering the voices we want heard? How can we do this through art, music and conversation?

If you:

– love art and performances that provoke critical thought and empower your audience
– wish to showcase your talents to inspire action for change
– want to meet like-minded artists and activists
– have a voice or a story that you want to share with others

….then we invite you to be part of RALLY, and be featured alongside other artists and activists in Singapore! Band together for a day of art, music, films, performance and dialogue. Be part of the Change Maker movement towards a safer, inclusive, more diverse reality.

Submit a proposal for your performance, programme or exhibition to us!

More details on what to include in the proposal in the link above. Send your proposal to [email protected]


About the We Can! Arts Fest

10869589_884245438277055_5022304249781370802_oWe Can! Arts Fest is an arts festival by We Can! Singapore and its partners in conjunction with ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence’, an international campaign marked by the UN and other groups around the world. 16 Days of Activism starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day. It aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional, and international level.

We Can! Arts Fest offers a platform to bring together arts, performance, and community-based events in solidarity with the international movement, and to make an impact locally. We Can! Singapore will also run a parallel social media campaign to build up towards the festival.

Read more about The Silence of Violence: We Can! Arts Fest 2013 here and take a look at our photo gallery here!

Read more about Breakthrough: We Can! Arts Fest 2014 here and take a look at our photo gallery here!

Categories
Blog

Some Reassembly Required: An Interview with Chris Khor

Interview conducted by Sing Rue, Change Maker

Christopher Khor is a transgender man who has been making headlines in Singapore with his upcoming documentary “Some Reassembly Required”. The film will document his reconstruction and is the first film on transgender men in Singapore. His team raised over $14,000 through crowdfunding earlier in the year for the documentary. We talk to Chris about his thoughts on transgender visibility in Singapore, and globally, gender diversity and what we can expect from the film.

Sing Rue: Can you tell me more about some of the misconceptions you intend to address in this documentary? What are some of the important things people need to understand?

Chris Khor: I think the biggest misconception about transgender people is that people can’t be transgender and gay/lesbian. I get that it’s confusing – I’ve had trouble explaining it to my family members myself. But it’s important to know that being transgender relates to your gender identity, and gay to your sexual orientation, so they’re very separate things. As for me, I identify as a straight transgender man.

SR: Recently, transgender women such as Laverne Cox are gaining visibility, but not so much for transgender men. Why do you think this is so? How do we bring about greater visibility for transgender men?

CK: I think the reality is that transgender men often can fade into the shadows. A lot of transmen that I know do not want to seen. Transmen are men, but there is still a lot of workplace discrimination, and there’s always that fear that someone will view you differently. I think the best way to bring about visibility is to create a safe environment in which they are willing to not be stealth, without having to fear jaundiced eyes and discrimination. Of course, then it’s up to them.

SR: As a gender non-conforming person myself, I am incredibly grateful to you for coming out in such a public way to share your story. What prompted your decision to do so? How is the response so far and how do you feel?

CK: We decided to make this documentary after a chance encounter with a transgender man in San Francisco. Geraldine tells this story better, but in essence, he was the first transgender man I’d met in person. And he’d just gotten married, and his wife is lovely. I think it gave me the first semblance of the life I could live, and that was encouraging to me on a personal level.

After that, Geraldine and I began talking a lot more about what being transgender meant to me, and we realised we had a great story. Still, it took me months after that to agree to being the subject of my own film!

It’s a privilege to be in this position, to educate and bring hope. The response has been overwhelming. I’m incredibly thankful for everyone’s support. But the best part has been getting messages from other transguys, looking for advice and sharing their experiences. It’s so important that we start to build a community that isn’t afraid to reach out to one another, especially since it’s so much easier to just “be stealth”.

SR: You seem to be very comfortable with your gender identity and who you are as a person. Is there anything you would recommend to people who are currently struggling with their gender identity and are not in such a good place as you are?

CK: Oh, it helps that I’ve always known I was a boy. There was never any doubt in that regard. I struggled a lot with not being able to accept the body that I have, even after surgery. The best advice I have, in this regard, is that you are bigger than your body. That your soul is more valuable that anything that people see. And you deserve to be loved. That’s going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. Sometimes, that self-love is the only thing we’ve got.

SR: There are some who have come to a place of self-acceptance with regards to their gender identity, but still face opposition from society. Do you have any advice for them? What were some support systems you had that helped you?

CK: I was very fortunate to have the support of my lecturers when I came out in university, and when I worked at a cafe when I was younger. I’ve found that support tends to spill down from the top. A lot of it, I think, is knowing your own worth, and realising that you can walk away from people that don’t treat you with respect. I’ve found that some of these relationships can be unhealthy, like tumours, and you should get rid of them, like…tumors.

SR: What steps do you think we need to take as a community to continue an open dialogue about gender identity, diversity and acceptance? What are some actions we can take as individuals for positive change?

CK: I think we need to talk to each other, instead of talking at each other. Dialogue can only be had if people are listening, and respectful. This applies for communities and individuals. Be kind. Give more love. Be slow to respond in anger. Be willing to talk, to understand different perspectives, and do not fear being wrong. This all sounds extremely airy fairy but it’s true. When we see each other as humans, rather than labels, then the world will be a happier place.

So, to put those things into practice: be respectful when talking to others. Make no assumptions because of people’s labels. Understand that everyone is different, and that’s okay. These are not battles to be won – these are people to be loved.

SR: I can’t wait for your film to be completed! In the meantime, do you have an exclusive teaser to share with those of us who just can’t bear the wait?

CK: We’re in the early stages of production, so we’ve just started lining up interviews. Look forward to our web content though! It’s mad season at work, but we’ll have a video going up pretty soon!

—–

Check out more information on Some Reassembly Required here: http://www.somereassemblyrequired.com/

‘Like’ their Facebook page to get more updates here: https://www.facebook.com/somereassemblyrequired

Categories
Blog

My Experience at the Body/Language Programme

by Kelvin Ng Jiawin, Change Maker and participant at Body/Language creative writing workshop

photo (1)I joined Body/Language, a creative writing workshop developed by EtiquetteSG and We Can! Singapore, for a simple reason: it combined writing and feminism, two of my favourite things. Needless to say, my expectations for the workshop were high. What I did not expect, however, was how much I gained from the workshop in return — besides affording me a creative platform to express my personal experiences with gender issues, the workshop prompted me to reevaluate my own conception of gender-based violence.

A wide range of topics were covered throughout the four sessions, as my fellow participants and I discussed issues of beauty standards, religion, gender stereotypes as well as institutional sexism. Manessa Lian, a public workshop participant, says, “It was an empowering experience, to be able to use poetry to talk about things that otherwise are rarely voiced out.”

Despite being the only (cisgender) male in the workshop, I never once felt left out, not only because I was able to share my own experiences with deviating from gendered ideals, something I’ve never been able to do comfortably in a mainstream setting, but also because I truly learned a great deal about how issues usually thought of as trivial, such as daily microaggressions, can realistically perpetuate more harm than we’d like to think.

1523098_871894242845508_7416063464966567862_oThe facilitators of my workshop, Nurul and Anne, were nothing short of stellar. They were simultaneously professional and personal throughout the four sessions, and succeeded in fostering an atmosphere comfortable enough for everyone to share their honest opinions. I particularly liked the ground rules democratically established on the first day, initiated by Anne; it provided a useful framework for our later discourse and ensured that no boundaries were transgressed.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this way; Sahar Pirzada, a fellow GEC workshop participant, says, ”The environment created by the facilitators of the course was one of warmth, support and trust. I felt safe to put my unique voice out there without fear of judgement from the facilitators or my peers. The positive support I received from the participants in my cohort of Body/Language encouraged me to perform at SWF.”

Knowing that it would be the first time performing a spoken word piece for most of us, Nurul also helpfully shared a few spoken word videos so we’d have a better idea of the techniques and forms that could undergird our works. At the same time, however, it was emphasised that we didn’t have to confine ourselves to any format or structure, and encouraged us to express ourselves in the most comfortable way, however informal or unstructured. Anung D’Lizta, a HOME workshop participant, opined that, “A lot of our feelings can’t be talked about, but it can be shared through our writing.”

10856490_871893199512279_6637369888932692318_oAs we began producing our works in one of the later sessions, the facilitators would go beyond providing helpful technical advice — they’d also initiate a conversation with us to understand where we were coming from, and why we wrote what we did. It was all done in a respectful, understanding manner, and other than providing a catharsis of sorts, both facilitators also shared really germane advice on our personal issues. Throughout the workshop, there was a significant amount of time devoted to conversing with each participant personally, yet in the end, no one was left out and everyone was catered to.

My facilitator, Nurul, shares, “It’s a beautifully designed workshop program that enables participants to tap into their inner writing warriors, most of which is driven by personal experiences that they have never or yet to articulate. It was evident that for most of the participants, it became a cathartic outlet to express themselves, not just through words, but through poetry, which allowed for a more creative and powerful resolution. The workshops also presented many participants the opportunity to discuss issues on a wider scale, having come with different perspectives on different issues.”

I had mixed feelings about sharing and performing my piece in front of the class during the last session — I was undeniably excited to let an audience hear it, yet there was an inevitable sense of anxiety and self-doubt. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share it with, for everyone was immensely supportive and encouraging. Constructive feedback was provided in a very respectful manner for every participant’s work, and I really enjoyed listening to all the pieces written by my fellow creative minds! I left the workshop not merely with a poem I’m proud of, but with so much more — a better understanding of the different dimensions to gender violence, a stronger mastery of poetry-writing techniques and above all, a group of really kickass feminist friends.

pic1About the Author: Kelvin Ng is a debater by training and part-time poet. His biggest accomplishment is remembering all the lyrics to Beyonce’s ***Flawless — both the original one and the Nicki Minaj remix — so that must mean something.