Many of us will recall British actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson’s headline-grabbing speech to the United Nations, as much for her heartfelt plea that men and boys stand up and get involved in the struggle against discrimination and inequality faced by girls and woman, as for the speed in which her words went viral.
This month, everyone can get behind the push for gender equality through the HeForShe campaign, by supporting the HeForShe Impact Awards. Open for nominations until 24 April, the Awards recognise men, women and organisations who are active promoters of gender equality.
We asked last year’s winner, Jolovan Wham, ex-Executive Director and Consultant at Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) an advocacy organisation for migrant workers in Singapore (who recently backed a Chinese worker who successfully won his salary dispute case in the high Court) his thoughts on the campaign and the awards.
Why do you urge individuals and organisations to nominate?
The awards can help raise the profile of gender equality in their workplace and community, and also encourage more men to come forward to be agents of change in their workplace.
What are some examples of workplace practices at HOME that embody the HeForShe values?
We try as much as possible to empower our female domestic workers to take leadership roles in our programmes, which provide social support and education to other domestic workers. Many of them are often socialised to believe that they are inferior; we try as much as we can to give them a platform to achieve their potential.
What are the biggest challenges facing the domestic workers that HOME serves in Singapore now?
Firstly, they can’t switch employers freely. Power very much lies in the hands of the employers who have the right to not sign transfer papers. Domestic workers need to be given the same right, like us, to switch employers. Secondly, despite the government’s day-off legislation, many domestic workers still do not get a day-off, or don’t enjoy a full day-off. Thirdly, domestic workers continue to be looked down upon by many. They aren’t covered by the Employment Act, which means they will continue to be excluded from the basic rights that many of us take for granted – rights such as statutory holidays, sick leave and annual leave, for example. Getting domestic work to be recognised as dignified labour remains a challenge.
What impact can the HeForShe campaign have on these challenges?
Hopefully, it will encourage more men to stand up for domestic workers. Domestic workers are one of the most vulnerable groups of workers and much more can be done to uphold their rights and dignity.
About The HeForShe Awards
In Singapore, the HeForShe Impact Awards recognise men and women who promote gender equality through initiatives that they have championed; inspiring steps that they have taken, and everyday actions that have resulted in positive change for the community. There are four categories:
- HeForShe Everyday Hero (nominations for male individuals only)
- HeForShe Leader (nominations for male individuals only)
- HeForShe@Work(nominations for companies only)
- HeForShe Influencer (nominations for female individuals only)
Make a nomination at unwomen-nc.org.sg, entries close on 24 April. Winners will be announced in May.
Also, check out In Their Own Words, a photographic series by Jenson Lee from 4 to 7 May. The exhibition will feature 10 special individuals who are advancing gender equality through their passions, aspirations and professions. Be inspired by these everyday men and women and make a change in your community. Read more here.
About UN Women Singapore
The Singapore Committee for UN Women is a self-funded non-profit organisation working towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. The organisation supports the general mission of UN Women by raising awareness and funding for Ending Violence Against Women, Economic Empowerment, and Governance and Leadership Programmes in Singapore and the region.
Want to read more about the UN’s fundraising work in Singapore?