Women in Singapore: Equality, Justice and Respect



6.50pm:      Small group of students to be seated at MPH; Log in to Webinar

7.00pm:      Dr Kelvin Pang, Master of Tembusu College, will introduce the Tembusu Forum

7.05pm:      Professor Tommy Koh, Rector of Tembusu College, will introduce the topic and speakers

7.15pm:      Minister Shanmugam

7.30pm:      Ms Junie Foo

7.45pm:      Ms Corinna Lim

8.00pm:      Question & Answer session with students

8.50pm:      Concluding remarks by speakers and Chair

9.00pm:      End of forum



Ms Junie Foo is the current President of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO). She is also Chief Executive Officer at the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), a multi-service charitable organisation in Singapore serving the community with 20 centres and programmes. Effectively trilingual in English, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese, she is passionate about facilitating opportunities for women to advance into senior leadership roles, and views a focus on gender diversity within organisations to be both a recipe for business success, as well as a socially responsible measure. She is the Founding Chair of BoardAgender, an initiative to create awareness on the economic benefits of having more women on boards, and the necessity of harnessing human capital through building a solid pipeline of senior women in leadership positions. She continues to be a mentor for Young Women in Leadership Connection (YWLC), a role that she has enjoyed since 2013.

Until 2018, Junie was the first non-Japanese in a Japanese financial institution, and the first female in the management of Corporate Banking Division, Asia Oceania. She spent more than 28 years in various financial institutions like Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank in managerial positions. She was on the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) Corporate Banking Workgroup to provide guidance on IBF on competencies for the corporate banking segment and on continuous professional development framework.

A Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), she chairs the Board Services and Mentorship Committee on the SID council and curates the annual Nominations Committee Chair conversations.  She is currently on the Audit and Risk Committee as a director of SIM GE (Singapore Institute of Management) and the Singapore Art Museum. Her other board roles include being on the advisory board of the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

For the forum, Ms Foo will speak on the topic “All About Respect”:

More than ever, we need to reassure our women that they have rights to their privacy and empower them to speak out when that is violated. We need to work towards a society where mutual respect between the sexes is the expectation and not a privilege.

Laws can change but in order to get there, we need to start at home. We teach our children the importance of respecting another person’s belongings, not to steal or touch other people’s things, but do we emphasise that same messages regarding our bodies?

Just as we teach our daughters that their bodies are private spaces, we should also educate our sons on the important messages of respect and consent. From a young age, we should teach boys that girls are equals, they are people and not objects – it is about respecting people, irrespective of gender.

We must be careful how we speak about women and girls, and let go of seemingly harmless things we say like “if he’s teasing you, it must mean he likes you!”.

That said, we need to also teach our children the importance of accepting personal responsibility for their own conduct. We need to ingrain this in them from young so that when they grow up, they are aware that their actions affect not just themselves, but others as well.

Just as how others are responsible for their own actions, we are responsible for our own bodies, their use and portrayal. I think society as a whole would benefit from having more responsible individuals.


Ms Corinna Lim is the Executive Director of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), Singapore’s leading gender equality group. She is a Fulbright Scholar and has been appointed as the SR Nathan Fellow for 2021.

Corinna has been a women’s rights activist for close to 30 years and has advocated on issues such as gender-equal workplaces, gender violence, and greater support for single parents, lower income women and caregivers of the elderly.

Prior to joining the NGO sector, Corinna practised law and founded a technology start-up which transformed into an IT company providing IT solutions for the legal industry.

For the forum, Ms Lim will provide a perspective on how Singapore has approached the issue of gender equality since its independence till today, the incredible progress we have made in some areas, and the areas that need more work, and new approaches. She will discuss family and work issues, gender based violence, and making gender equality a fundamental value.


Mr K Shanmugam is the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law. He was first appointed to the Singapore Cabinet in May 2008.

As Minister for Home Affairs since September 2015, Mr Shanmugam has overseen several programmes and initiatives including: the transformation of the Singapore Police Force’s counter-terrorism capabilities; the introduction of rapid response forces; and the launch of SGSecure, a community-based national movement to strengthen community resilience and emergency preparedness. He has overseen the greater integration and use of technology to transform the operations of the 10 agencies of the Ministry through the establishment of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency. 

There has been a comprehensive overhaul of the Penal Code to modernise Singapore’s criminal laws and confer greater protections for the vulnerable in society, including women and children. The Misuse of Drugs Act was also amended to strengthen Singapore’s drug rehabilitation regime, and assist drug abusers on their road to recovery and reintegration through community and family support. Mr Shanmugam has also made clear, the Government’s resolve against religious extremism and actions which harm racial harmony, by articulating the Government’s philosophy and amending the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.

As Minister for Law, Mr Shanmugam has overseen changes to Singapore’s legal profession, to build a more vibrant legal sector. These include: reforming the arbitration regime in Singapore, leading to Singapore’s development as one of the leading arbitral seats in the world and the leader in Asia; encouraging international law practices to anchor regional work in Singapore; and facilitating collaboration between Singapore and international law practices. The Singapore International Commercial Court and the Singapore International Mediation Centre were also established, further consolidating Singapore’s position as a premier dispute resolution hub.

For the forum, Minister Shanmugam will discuss the approach that needs to be taken to ensure Equality, Justice & Respect for Women in Singapore.

Recording of the forum can be found here: https://youtu.be/DUKgw98OJPc  


The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.