Singapore—In a Facebook post on July 13, gender equality group AWARE congratulated all the winners in the recent General Election, which included more women than ever before.
Representation, as they say, matters.
The recent election has proven to be a historic one not only for Singapore’s opposition, which won the most seats in the country’s history, but also for women and minorities.
Post GE2020, Singapore now has 27 out of 93 Parliamentary seats, up from 21 out of 89 five years ago. Out of the 27 new women MPs, six are not of Chinese descent. Furthermore, women won in five out of the 14 Single Member Constituencies.
The non-Chinese women MPs are ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Indranee Rajah, Joan Pereira, Mariam Jafar, Nadia Samdin and the Workers’ Party’s (WP) Raeesah Khan.
The women SMC MPs are Amy Khor, Gan Siow Huang, Grace Fu, Sun Xueling, and Tin Pei Ling, all of whom are from PAP.
Now that #GE2020 is over, we offer a hearty congratulations to all incoming Members of Parliament. AWARE looks forward…
AWARE writes that while a 50 percent representation in Parliament should be the goal, this year’s election results are a step in the right direction. “With a 29% female Parliament, this election has brought us five percentage points closer to the 30% minimum goal for female representation set by the United Nations, though we have yet to cross that mark in Singapore history. (We should of course be aiming for 50-50 gender representation.)”
Of the incoming MPs, “These politicians can be role models for future generations, who will continue to break barriers and bring ever more diversity to our nation,” added AWARE, encouraging those who did not win to continue in their “political journeys.”
GE2020 itself saw more female candidates than the last election, with 40 women contesting for seats this year, five more than in 2015.
AWARE’s executive director Corinna Lim was quoted on July 9 in Nikkei Asia as saying, “When you have that critical mass, women politicians are seen as normal. There’ll be less attention to the fact that a person is female and she’ll be judged on her own terms.”
Nikkei Asia also pointed out that historically, Singapore has lagged behind its Asian neighbours such as Indonesia and South Korea when it comes to female political representation. And in the upper levels of Singapore’s government, the gap widens considerably, with only three women ministers: Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Second Minister for Education and Finance; Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower; and Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, although the country saw its first female president in 2017.
The ruling party’s rising stars include Gan Siow Huang, Singapore’s first female general, Mariam Jaafar, a Boston Consulting Group’s senior leader in Southeast Asia, and Carrie Tan, who was praised by US President Obama in 2016.
As for the WP, although candidate Nicole Seah did not win, she enjoys widespread popularity, as does Ms Khan, despite two police reports filed against her. Nikkei Asia says that Ms Khan has even been compared to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, due to the “popularity with Generation Z and millennial internet users — and the backlash she has received from conservatives.”
As for WP’s He Ting Ru, while her husband had also contested in the election, it was she who had emerged as a new MP for Singapore. —TISG
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