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Change Maker Reunion: Making waves in the community

we can logo (1)Thank you for joining us on our journey towards a gender-equal and violence-free society. You are invited to our very first Change Maker Reunion!

Date: 5 April 2014 (Saturday)
Time: 3pm-6pm
Venue: Zsofi Tapas Bar, 68 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209396

*Scrumptious tea will be provided!

Register here.

By taking the Change Maker pledge, you joined 3.9 million people around the world who are speaking up against violence in their societies.

In 2013, We Can! Singapore launched, reaching out to the Singapore community through theatre, workshops, art, media and more. With your help, we raised awareness and inspired action to reduce social tolerance of all forms of violence against women.

This year, we want to deepen that change and invite you to be part of that process.

We have big plans and exciting ideas for 2014! We want to grow the Change Maker community, mobilise youth to lead the campaign and inspire change at all levels. To do this better, we want to hear from you.

Come down on 5 April and amidst food, drinks and new friendships, share with us your ideas, experiences and hopes for change. Change Makers from different walks of life will be speaking about their stories of personal change and their experiences with community outreach. If you would like to share your story, write to us at [email protected].

We will also be honouring the Change Makers who have done exceptional work in 2013, so do come and support them!

We Can! is a community-led movement – it is your movement. You can have a say in the direction and impact the campaign creates this year. So come – lend us your voice, hands and feet.

Programme:

3-3.15pm – Registration

3.15-3.25 – Introduction

3.25-3.40pm – Icebreaker

3.40-4.10pm – Making waves in the community (discussion)

4.10-4.25pm – Outreach through social media

4.25-4.35pm – Opportunities for volunteering and activism

4.35-4.50pm – Presentation of Star Change Maker Awards

4.50-5.15pm – Sharing by Change Makers

5.15-5.30pm – Feedback and reflections

5.35-6pm – Tea and networking

*You are eligible to attend this reunion if you’ve attended a Change Maker workshop or taken the Change Maker Pledge.

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We Can! Campaign Highlights 2013

we can logo (1)2013 marked the beginning of the We Can! End All Violence Against Women campaign in Singapore, and it was a fabulous year full of learning, adventures and change-making.

Our forum theatre, Just A Bad Day – put together and performed by Change Makers, using true stories from their own lives – travelled to audiences across the island, from youth at ITE colleges and *SCAPE, to communities at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre and Toa Payoh Community Centre. Through these interactive shows, we explored how violence isn’t always black and blue, and how each of us can play a role in putting a stop to the everyday manifestations of violence around us.

We also conducted 25 Change Maker workshops for almost 400 participants from different walks of life. At these workshops, we discuss why we as a society remain tolerant of violence against women and discover ways in which we can start to make change. The Change Maker workshop has proved to be a unique experience that shifts perspectives and encourages introspection. If you’ve come to a workshop and found it meaningful, do refer your friends to one here!

Would You Step In? Volunteer Change Makers staged a scene of a man abusing his girlfriend on Orchard Road to explore how bystanders would choose to intervene. Watch the video below!

We Can! Arts Fest on 8 December 2013 brought artists, activists and survivors together to start a dialogue about the less visible forms of violence in our society. 250 people attended, many of them taking the pledge to be Change Makers.

We look forward to making more memories with you this year, as we take the campaign forward. Thank you for being a part of the journey towards a non-violent and gender-equal society!

If you would like to explore bringing the Change Maker workshop or forum theatre to your community, write to us!

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Blaze a trail this International Women’s Day

What makes you angry? What gives you hope? On International Women’s Day (8 March), join AWARE and the We Can! campaign at Hong Lim Park to explore these questions at All Fired Up! iwd-logo-1-1

This electrifying day of celebration will bring together people of all ages, genders and walks of life to share the struggles and successes of the women’s movement in Singapore.

Date: 8 March (Saturday)
Time: 4pm – 8pm
Location: Hong Lim Park
Click here to register!

Stand in solidarity with inspiring slogans and songs, or explore urgent social issues at booths set up by civil society groups. Go wild with our themed graffiti wall, and pass on the flame of hope at our candlelight vigil for the past, present and future of the women’s movement. Art, music, poetry and speeches: All Fired Up! has something for everyone.

Programme highlights:

Workshop: celebration toolkit  (4 – 5.30pm)                 feminist_fist

What’s a party without props? Join us for an afternoon of placard- and banner-making to set your message ablaze. We’ll work together to craft slogans and chants for the evening’s festivities.

Bellyful from EtiquetteSG (4 – 6pm)

Celebrate the fire in your belly! Artist and writer Dana Lam, with support from EtiquetteSG, will create plaster casts of bellies big and small of any age, colour and gender. We hope to have enough belly casts to cover the lawn for the candlelight vigil.

Women Blazing a Trail (5.30 – 7.30pm)

What makes you angry? What gives you hope? Women and their allies step up to answer these questions with honesty and verve, through speech and poetry – with slogans and chants to get everyone all fired up!

Some speaking slots are open. If you have a tale of anger and hope that you’d like to share, please contact Sumedha at [email protected] by 28 February.

Candlelight vigil for the women’s movement: past, present and future (7.30 – 8pm)  vigil

A show of unity to celebrate our past successes and get us geared up for the challenges of the future.  Old and young will stand together and share in the light of hope.

Please register for this event here. If you would like to set up a booth for your organisation at All Fired Up!, contact Sahar at [email protected]

Note: We welcome people of all nationalities to join us.  However, there may be legal limitations on participation for non-Singaporeans in some activities (e.g. slogans).  We apologise for these restrictions, which are not of our choosing.  Please do come and take part in everything else.


Canada imageThis event is kindly supported by the High Commission of Canada.

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News & Updates

Call out for volunteer voice actors

The We Can! campaign is taking to social media to raise awareness and spark action against gender violence during the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Starting on 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and ending on 10 December (Human Rights Day), 16 Days of Activism hopes to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue.

The We Can! campaign is participating by running an interactive social media campaign to bring attention to gender violence in Singapore and encourage ordinary people to take action.

We need your help. We need voice actors to record a few audio scenes for the campaign.

The sound recording will only take 1.5 to 2 hours of your time, sometime in October. We ask people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities to participate – those who can speak multiple languages are especially welcome.

If you are interested, please complete this form by Friday, 4 October.

Thank you for your help, we really look forward to hearing from you!

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Violence against women: Not just a women’s issue

men against violence against womenKen Lay, Chief Commissioner of Police in Victoria, Australia, has made family violence his signature issue. In this speech, he talks about how we misapprehend the nature of family violence, making ourselves feel safer by seeing violence as an internal domestic issue and assigning complicity to victims.

There are many myths about domestic violence that we perpetuate – the victim must have incited the abuse, she is guilty of bad judgement, if a woman’s life was endangered, she would simply leave.

Ken Lay seeks to broaden people’s views on domestic violence – and to reach out to one group specifically.

“Men, I want you to consider why blokes are so quiet on these issues.”

The speaker calls for action, asking men to stand up against violence and discrimination. Placing family violence in a wider culture where vulgar and violent attitudes to women are common, he wants to see a change in attitude, making all indecency against women deeply shameful among men.

“I want you to consider what twisted sense of entitlement compels a man to grab a woman in a bar or call her a slut.”

Many activists around the world are trying to involve men and the larger community in something widely seen as a “women’s issue. The anti-sexist activist Jackson Katz, whose TED talk on violence against women went viral, emphasises the importance of collective change.

“The perpetrators aren’t monsters who crawl out of the swamp and come into town to perform their nasty deeds and then retreat into the darkness.” The violence is created in our society. Katz demands change, asking powerful men to set an example in building a violence-free community. Why?

“So that future generations won’t have the level of tragedy that we deal with on a daily basis.”

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News & Updates

Calling all artists for the ‘We Can!’ Arts Festival!

This December, arts meets activism at the ‘We Can! Weekend’.

The We Can End All Violence Against Women campaign (Singapore) is organising ‘We Can! Weekend’, a unique festival bringing together arts, performance, and community-based events to raise awareness about gender-based violence.

With the theme ‘the Silence of Violence’, the festival will explore the less visible forms of gender violence and its impact on individuals and communities. We want to use the powerful mediums of art and performance to educate and engage the public on the issue of gender violence, and draw attention to subtler forms of violence.

We invite proposals from individuals, organisations, or groups who are excited by the power of collective action in shaping the discourse on violence against women in Singapore. If you are an artist passionate about gender issues and spreading awareness and action for a violence-free society, come forward and take part in the We Can! Weekend!

Dates: 6 – 8 December
Venue: Aliwal Arts Centre
Theme: The Silence of Violence
Target outreach: 1000 attendees
Deadline for proposals: 27 September

Click here to view more details about the festival, and the requirements for artists’ proposals.

You can send proposals to [email protected] by 27 September. We will get back to you by 30 September.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Things you didn’t know about sexual violence

[two_third]ActionAid Australia has created an infographic that illustrates the impact sexual violence has on the lives of girls and women in many different cultures. Sexual violence remains a widespread and persistent reality around the world. It is not confined to a few incidences, but can form the conditions of a woman’s entire lifetime.[/two_third]

 

Sexual Violence Against Women - The Hard Truths


 

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Rape culture is our problem too

[two_third] In an article in The Kent Ridge Common, Sakunika Wewalaarachchi looks at the fixation that the world, including Singapore, had on the gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012. Part of this fixation was the tendency to characterise rape and misogyny as endemic to the Indian culture.

Protest against rape

In fact, women around the world only stand to suffer more when rape culture and misogyny are perceived as the product of conditions specific to a country – low levels of education, poverty, lack of economic development or modernisation, “backwardness” – and not as problems in themselves. Rape culture is not the inevitable result of these social conditions. Conversely, it is not true that having better social conditions means rape culture naturally dies out. This is a dangerous notion to have, because it breeds complacency and retards the progression of gender equality.

Rape culture does not arise from income and education levels, but from attitudes and beliefs that privilege male gratification at the expense of the freedom and security of women. Such attitudes and beliefs can be found anywhere and in every country, in a shack in a shanty town, as on the top floor of a glittery skyscraper. While rightly feeling outrage at incidences of rape that occur anywhere in the world, we must remember to look towards home, and not ignore the hornets’ nest in our own backyard. [/two_third]

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Quen on “Just A Bad Day”

[two_third]Quen

Quenyee Wong plays a grandmother in “Just A Bad Day”. Here is what she has to say about her experience as an actor and what it means to be a Change Maker of the We Can! campaign.

For me, it truly was a tall order. Here was an email asking people with full-time jobs and a life – well, we certainly hope so! – and maybe even a dog, to put months of their lives “on hold”, to be in a play. Really? Who does that? Once upon a long time ago, I too wanted to run away with the circus, but I’ve since quite adjusted to the demands of life today, thank you.

What did actually get me to sign up for the We Can! forum theatre workshop was, in fact, what the play was going to be about: violence against women. Something went “bing!” in my head. Women’s rights, human rights, the rights of the downtrodden and misunderstood have always been close to my heart. Over a great part of my life, I did identify with the downtrodden. And here was a chance to do something that took on these issues directly!

So two weeks later saw me walking into a room full of strangers of all ages and races, shapes and genders. You’d only see a more diverse group, well, at the circus. After the initial hellos and introductions, the amazing journey of forum theatre training began! Under the careful moulding of a veteran theatre practitioner named Li Xie, we started to open up and warm towards each other through different trust-building exercises. In one such exercise, we wandered with eyes closed within the confines of a room and, at the instruction of Li Xie, reached out to find a “hand buddy”. That is, we proceeded to feel the hand of the person we had partnered up with, perhaps even smelling it or rubbing it against our faces, so that we could “know it”, all the while with our eyes shut. Then, after mixing us all up again, we had to find our hand buddy purely by feeling dozens of “stranger hands”! What a weird thing to do, I thought, but guess what? Many of us did find our hand buddies, and experienced a most uncanny sense of connection with that person.

Forum theatre rehearsal
Change Makers in rehearsal

The artistic process was most liberating. Soon, this motley crew of volunteers migrated together from a place of shy, giggly awkwardness to a full-on, I-haven’t-even-shared-this-with-my-mom, safe circle of revelatory sharing! The day always ended with everyone coming together in a circle and sharing what we felt or had learnt. And the bare-bones honesty surprised us all! Here was a group of ordinary folk who had come together because we had witnessed or experienced unspeakable violence in our own lives, and now we were bonding over long-hidden secrets. Rape, peer pressure, gender discrimination – you name it, it figured in our individual experiences. It made you think, wow, violence really is just one or two degrees of separation away! In fact, if you were willing to look, you would see it happening in your own life as well.

These stories made their way into a piece of theatre that explored violence in both physical and non-physical forms, set in the everyday scenarios where we had first experienced them. Through a progressive series of exercises involving creating tableaux of actions, we pieced the action together and weaved a coherent whole. In a process called “hot seating”, we had questions posed to us as the character we played (for example, a woman who felt compelled to fulfil the roles of wife, mother and daughter-in-law to the highest degree) and we answered them in character. This helped us better understand the stakes involved and our character’s motivations and “buttons” – words or actions that would make them think twice or even change their behaviour. These were “buttons” that our audience members could “push” in order to trigger a different way of thinking or acting.

Quen in character
Quen in character, interacting with a member of the audience during a performance of “Just a Bad Day”.

All in all, the process of creating a forum theatre devised piece made each of us more aware of why protagonists in any particular situation make the decisions they do, which create or add to a cycle of action. We had all come with a certain set of ideas about the issues in violence, and through role-play and discussion, had discovered a lot of the “grey” in things we used to think of as pretty black-and-white. Taking on these issues didn’t sway our resolve. On the contrary, it imbued us with some wisdom: solutions are not cut and dry, and people have to arrive at their own solutions organically.

At the We Can! forum theatre workshop, we found our “therapy” – sharing our stories and putting them together in a theatre piece had, in effect, released us from their hold and re-purposed them for good. Now, it is time to take our process to the masses, to get them to share as well!

We named the play, “Just A Bad Day”, and recognised ourselves as “Change Makers”. Using everything we have learnt from the workshop, the “Just A Bad Day” Change Makers will take the play to Singapore’s multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-abled, multi-gendered, multi-affiliated communities over an entire year.

People need to feel empowered to say no, to pipe up when they would ordinarily have kept mum, to step in where they might have stepped aside before because they thought that violence was a private matter. But it isn’t. Just as you can step into the world of the forum theatre and do something differently, we want people to know that they can change the course of real life, and hopefully history, simply by acting on it.[/two_third]

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Violence against women: bruises of a global shame exposed

 

violence is not our cultureThe first international study of the prevalence of physical and sexual assaults shows a third of women worldwide have suffered beatings or worse in their daily lives.

According to The National, Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said the findings needed to be taken seriously and they sent “a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions”.

It is the first time estimates have been released based on population data from such a wide spectrum of countries.

And even countries that did not supply data for the study needed to eliminate their tolerance for abuse of women and improve their methods of tackling it, the report says.

“The findings send a powerful message that violence against women is not a small problem that only occurs in some pockets of society, but is a global public health problem of epidemic proportions, requiring urgent action,” it states.

protest

Violence takes it toll in many ways, the report shows. Women who experienced what it calls “intimate-partner violence” have higher rates of depression, HIV, injury and death, and are more likely to have babies with low birth weights than those who are free of violence.

 

This article has been edited on 5 July 2017.