On 14 April 2015, the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), as the national coordinating body for women organisations in Singapore, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) jointed hosted a closed-door consultation session with women groups, including the AWDS, at the SCWO Centre at 96 Waterloo Street.

Singapore acceded to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1995. Since then, four Periodic Reports had been submitted. The Inter-ministry Committee (IMC) on CEDAW was set up in 1996 and comprises Government ministries and public sector agencies which coordinate and implement initiatives to better address the needs of women. The IMC prepared the fifth periodic report which was presented to us and gathered feedback.

A lively discussion followed, with representatives of various women’s groups flagging up issues they had faced which clearly demonstrated discrimination against certain cohorts of women, including domestic helpers, commercial sex workers, as well as lesbian and transgender ladies. This forum allowed other groups to pledge their support and suggest possible solutions. Relevant ministries and agencies also documented these issues to raise at their respective workgroups.

The evening ended on a positive note with women’s groups certain that they were in good company, on whom they could rely on for support.