Women pivotal in nation-building: Grace Fu

There is a need to celebrate their contributions as women today still juggle many roles: Minister

As posted by  Seow Bei Yi, Women and women’s organizations have played a pivotal role in Singapore since its pre-independence days, but they have not always featured strongly in the country’s historical narrative.

Highlighting the contributions of women as the Republic marks its bicentennial this year, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said yesterday: “It is an opportunity for us to reflect on the long historical evolution of women in Singapore and impact they made on our nation.”

Women, who made up about 20 percent of the population in the 1900s, grew in numbers in the 1920s as colonial authorities restricted the number of male immigrants to balance the gender ratio and control the unemployment level, she said.

“This opened the door for female immigrants. Among these were the samsui women and amahs,” she said at a conference by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Shangri-La Hotel.

Noting these immigrant women achieved financial independence and provided for their families, Ms. Fu added that they were an exception as migrant communities here were from cultures that constrained women in the roles of wives and mothers after marriage.

The change started as women galvanized to contribute to war rehabilitation efforts and set up associations and mutual help groups.