Launch of SHE: Press Release, 11 Sep 2022
Independent organisation for women and girls’ empowerment SHE launches; S$1m raised in pledges to set up Singapore’s first online harms support centre
Non-profit with IPC status SHE will champion a more equal society
SINGAPORE, 13 September 2022 – SG Her Empowerment Limited (“SHE”), an Institution of Public Character to empower girls and women, was officially launched today.
Inspired by the work of the Sunlight Alliance for Action to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls (“Sunlight AfA”), SHE was founded by lawyer Stefanie Yuen Thio when she saw that a community effort was needed to tackle emerging new issues for women, including online harms. SHE will also work towards being a platform for broader mainstream issues such as workplace fairness and equality, the roles of women and men in the home, and issues affecting youth.
SHE’s first key area of focus is to combat gender-based online harms. Its plans thus far include:
- Setting up SHE and SHECARES@SCWO: SHE has already raised about S$1 million to commence operations and to set up Singapore’s first online harms support centre by the end of the year in collaboration with the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations. The centre, which will be launched around the end of 2022, will have a telephone helpline and text-line manned by counsellors and provide counselling services. Volunteer lawyers from Law Society Pro Bono Services will also provide pro bono legal support to support those who have experienced gender-based harms on the internet.
- Engaging Singapore Police Force to improve the victim experience: SHE is in discussions with the Police to collaborate to improve the reporting experience of victims.
- Engaging internet platforms to streamline the reporting process for harmful content: SHE is working closely with internet platforms on the reporting process for harmful online content; including via platforms’ own in-app reporting systems. The reporting process is a crucial first step to seeking recourse, the outcome of which may include the removal of assessed harmful content, or the suspension or blocking of a user account.
SHE has been set up as an independent platform that will ensure community voices are heard and impactful change effected. To do this, SHE will take an inclusive, stepped approach for the initiatives it champions. SHE will:
1. Engage the Community and listen to women and men for their views on challenges affecting women from all age groups and walks of life in Singapore, with an initial focus on youth;
2. Take a Data-Driven and Evidence-Based Approach by facilitating research to develop impactful strategies;
3. Connect and Collaborate with partners in all it does,including civil society, community groups, corporates and the government; and
4. Advocate for Impactful Change through the above efforts to champion a more equal society.
Senior Minister of State Sim Ann, who co-chaired the Sunlight AfA, and is one of the Special Advisers of SHE, said: "I am extremely heartened by the strong support from so many well-wishers who share our goal of making the internet a safer place for our women and our girls. Beyond closing the digital safety gap, I look forward to SHE’s work in empowering girls and women."
Stefanie Yuen Thio, SHE's Chairperson said: "While we originally conceptualised SHE as an organisation to run the victims' support centre, it soon became clear that there are many issues facing women that need urgent attention. Women are still severely under-represented in the C-suite and in leadership, and the income gap between the sexes may only widen due to factors such as COVID and the rise of technology which has, up to now, attracted more men to that field. SHE will work with the community, sister organisations, and government agencies to identify opportunities to empower girls, energise youth, and be an advocate for new policies."
SG Her Empowerment (“SHE”) is an independent non-profit organisation, with Institution of Public Character (“IPC”) status, that strives to empower girls and women through community engagements and partnerships. SHE engages and listens to women and men across the community, and from all age groups and walks of life. SHE facilitates research and gathers data to clearly frame the issues and identify the needs, in order to shape strategies that will make a positive impact. SHE also collaborates with community stakeholders from different interest groups, civil society organisations, corporates and the Government. Through these efforts, SHE advocates for change and champions a more equal society.
SHE’s Origin Story
Inspired by the work of the Sunlight Alliance for Action to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls (“Sunlight AfA”), SHE was founded by lawyer Stefanie Yuen Thio when she saw the need for a community effort to tackle emerging new issues for women, including online harms. Her decision was rooted in the Sunlight AfA findings that online harms are an urgent issue, yet many victims do not know how to seek help and therefore do not report incidents of harm.
Stefanie, together with other AfA members who eventually became SHE’s founding team, decided to take on the task of combatting this growing scourge. SHE’s first key initiative was setting up of SHECARES@SCWO, a one-stop support centre for victims of online harms, focusing on girls and women.
Although SHE’s initial goal was to tackle online harms, it became clear that there were many other issues girls and women face requiring equal attention. For example, women are still severely under-represented in the C-suite and in other leadership positions in Singapore; they continue to bear the brunt of caregiving duties in the family; and they struggle to balance school, work, and home-life commitments. The SHE team felt it had to help address these urgent challenges as well. As SHE begins its community engagement efforts to determine other areas of focus, the team will also look at the findings from the 2022 White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development.
List of Special Advisers, Board Members, and CEO
|Special Adviser||Senior Minister of State Sim Ann|
|Special Adviser||Minister of State Low Yen Ling|
|Chairperson||Stefanie Yuen Thio|
|Board Member||Dipa Swaminathan|
|Board Member||Georgette Tan|
|Board Member||Dr. Han Ei Chew|
|Board Member||Dr. June Goh|
|Board Member||Junie Foo|
|Board Member||Nadia Samdin|
|Board Member||Theresa Goh|
The full press release, as of 13 September, 2022 (10:18 AM), is available here.