Association of Women for Action and Research
|Founded||25 November 1985|
|Type||Non-profit, Non-governmental organization|
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) is a non-governmental organization in Singapore concerned with promoting gender equality. The group was officially formed on 25 November 1985. The group currently has approximately 550 members.
AWARE is involved in research and advocacy, education and training, and offers support services for women, which include helplines and legal clinics.
AWARE's current constitution was last amended on 26 March 2008. This constitution identifies the objectives of AWARE to be:
- to promote the participation of women in all areas, create an awareness of the contribution women make to society and further develop their potential through, amongst other things, education, learning and training opportunities
- to promote gender equality by, amongst other things, educating the public on issues relating to gender, equipping women and men to deal with various forms of discrimination, and creating awareness of their mutual rights and responsibilities
- to promote the well-being of women by, amongst other things, providing emotional, psychological or legal support
- to promote values and norms which would improve the quality of life of women and their families and achieve the betterment of Singapore society as a whole.
In 2011, AWARE launched the Sexual Assault Befrienders Service (SABS), the first support service for survivors of sexual assault in Singapore. A helpline and counselling services were set up under this service.
AWARE has also embarked on several campaigns, such as the We Can! international movement to end violence against women in 2013. This included an anti-domestic violence campaign video (featuring a roleplay of a physically abusive boyfriend), which drew mixed responses from the public.
The organization is also involved in political issues, such as debates on laws and policies – the most current of which is the call for the Singapore Budget to increase its emphasis on family support and social equality.
Takeover attempt by the Church of Our Saviour
In 2009, the group made news when a group of conservative Christian women from the Church of Our Saviour, under the leadership of Josie Lau and orchestrated by Dr Thio Su Mien (mother of then Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Thio Li-ann), took over the executive council of the group alleging a pro-gay agenda. Six of the 11 newly elected executive committee were new members who had only joined three months prior to the election, and 80 of the 120 attendees of the meeting were similarly new members. The old guard called for a no-confidence vote and the new council was voted out of office on 2 May 2009 after almost 3,000 people had joined the group. Of the 2,175 people who voted at the meeting, 1,414 voted for the no-confidence.
Deputy Prime minister Wong Kan Seng commented that "a group of conservative Christians, all attending the same church, which held strong views on homosexuality, had moved in and taken over AWARE because they disapproved of what AWARE had been doing", and called for tolerance, cautioning that religion and politics must be kept separate.
On May 26, 2009, during Thio Li Ann's first speech in parliament since the event, Thio Li-Ann accused the local press of biased reporting on the events surrounding the attempted takeover. Han Fook Kwang, then editor of the Straits Times, responded in an editorial and expressed his sadness at the vindictiveness of "critics and the length to which they are prepared to go to attack our professionalism" and integrity, detailing the sequence of events and how their journalists had investigated and reported on the proceedings. 
- Chew, Cassandra. 2010. "Membership of Aware falls to 550; Numbers had surged to 3,000 last year amid controversial takeover," in: Straits Times, June 17.
- "About AWARE". AWARE. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "AWARE Constitution" (PDF). AWARE.
- "Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam, at the official launch of AWARE's Sexual Assault Befrienders Service". Ministry of Law, Singapore.
- "9 in 10 sex crimes not reported". AsiaOne News.
- "We Can! Singapore". Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Would Singaporeans intervene in domestic violence, asks Aware". Yahoo!. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "AWARE wants Budget 2013 to focus on reducing social inequality". xinMSN. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Kalinga Seneviratne (30 April 2009), SINGAPORE: Evangelical Christians Take on Civil Society
- "Taken unawares; Singapore's NGO furore," in: The Economist, 9 May 2009
- Yong, Debbie. 2009. "Getting to know Aware's new exco; Members talk about EGM, its sex education programme and plans for future over dinner," in: The Straits Times, 10 May.
- Comments by DPM and Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng in response to media queries related to AWARE Archived 17 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- Han Fook Kwang (30 May 2009), "How ST covered the story", The Straits Times.
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