Gender equality advocacy group The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has set up the #MeToo Action in a bid to boost its efforts in combating gender-based violence such as sexual assault and harassment as well as gender discrimination in the workplace.
Executive Director of AWARE Ms Corinna Lim said at the Revolution Ball at Shangri-la Hotel last Saturday (25 Aug) that the global #MeToo movement against sexual violence became the catalyst of “nuanced media coverage and public conversations on sexual violence and gender discrimination, particularly in the workplace.”
She added that “survivors in Singapore bravely shared their experiences as part of the movement”, as seen in the “big jump in the number of calls” made to AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC).
The SACC saw a “79% increase” in Q4 last year, which Ms Lim said was a demonstration of how with “social support and knowledge of helpful resources, survivors are more willing to speak up and seek help.”
“This year’s Ball was the “revolution” we needed – a revolution in attitudes and behaviours, and a journey towards real, lasting change,” she said.
The Ball raised funds via donation pledges, silent auction and lucky dip, as well as the net proceeds from the sale of tables at the gala dinner. The money raised throughout the fundraising campaign will also be channelled into AWARE’s public education programmes, as well as research and advocacy efforts in the process of forming more supportive policies for all women.
Initiatives supported by the #MeToo Action Fund are set to commence in Q4 2018.
AWARE unveiled its plans to expand the outreach and capacity of SACC; work with employers and institutions to ensure accountability for workplace harassment; conduct research to improve systems of support for survivors; and extend its public education tools on sexual violence, consent and gender inequality to more workplaces, schools and communities.
AWARE will also be releasing a video series featuring accounts of sexual violence in Singapore made by ten survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
The first video was screened at the Revolution Ball on Saturday.
The videos will be used to support various public education efforts, including to train employers and professionals to sensitively manage sexual harassment in the workplace, and to enact workplace policies to support those who have encountered harassment.
Ms Lim remarked: “The stories we hear from the survivors who spoke out in the video – and those who come to SACC to seek help every day – debunks the common myth that the #MeToo movement does not apply to Singapore. Sexual violence is a reality here, too.”
“Our new campaign will send a strong and clear message that we believe survivors, stand behind them and are working systemically to improve support for them,” she reasoned.
With the funds raised, we will ensure that #MeToo is more than just a hashtag. It will be a turning point in strengthening the fight for gender equality, and to end sexual assault and workplace harassment,” said Ms Lim.