The Founding of the Singapore Council of Women

Recorded by Elizabeth Choy

Minutes of Ladies Meeting on 20th Nov. 1951 at 352-A Tanjong Katong Road

In view of the prevalent unsatisfactory status of women of different communities in this country Mrs. Shirin Fozdar invited the following ladies to her home on 352-A Tanjong Katong Road on 20th Nov at 5 p.m. to form a Council of Women. Mrs. Elizabeth Choy, Mrs. Vilasini Menon, Mrs. Robert Eu, Miss Amy Laycock, Mrs. T. P. F. McNiece, Mrs. Goh Kok Kee, Miss Macrae, Mrs. George Lee, Mrs. E.V.Davies, Mrs. Helen Tan, Mrs. J. Alcock, Mrs. Malati Pillay, Mrs. Bezbarua, Mrs. Alasgoff, Mrs. Alkaff, Che Zahrah, Miss Mary Chen, Mrs. Shuffing Khoo, Mrs. Butcher, Miss Zahrah Adnan, Miss J. Schain, Che Fatimah, Datin Abdul Kadir, Mrs. Hajjah Zain, Mrs. Rehman.

Mrs. McNiece who was unable to attend wrote that she was in entire sympathy with the aim of our meeting and wished us all success.

The leading English and Malay papers were duly represented by their reporters. After tea and refreshments were served, Mrs. Fozdar addressed the meeting. She explained to them the object for which the meeting was called, describing to them the prevalent pathetic conditions of women among the various communities in Singapore, an the severe handicaps they were suffering from. She also, informed them of the fine work that was being done by the Y.W.C.A., and the Social Welfare department of the Government and the Malay Women's Welfare Association in Singapore in the field of Social Welfare, but maintained all this admirable work could not ameliorate the legal disabilities under which women have been suffering and which were the root causes of many of the social evils. She, therefore, urged them that a Council of Women should be formed in Singapore which would safeguard all their legitimate interests. The aims and objects of the Council would be:


  1. To be a women's movement for the promotion of the economic, educational, cultural and social status of women in general in the city.
  2. To facilitate and encourage mutual friendship, understanding and co?operation among the women of various races and communities in Singapore.
  3. To ensure justice to all women and seek their welfare by the use of legislatures as well as appeal to man's humaner nature which believes in and respects the Human Rights and Freedom as are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

B   The Council shall adopt any or all of the following means for the achievement of its aims and objects.

  1. Organise meetings, lectures, debates and symposiums.
  2. Publish a periodical, moulding public opinion towards a more just dealing for the women.
  3. Start educational institutions for the girls giving them sound academic as well as professional training.
  4. Invite other women's organisations to co-operate with the activities of this Council.
  5. Undertake other activities which may be necessary or conducive to the attainment of the objects of this Council.
  6. Appoint specialised committees to collect information regarding the handicaps under which the women are suffering and guide the executive as to the effective methods by which these handicaps may be removed

Mrs. Fozdar further explained that the object of the Singapore Women's Council was not to overlap the work and activities of the existing social welfare organisations, but to go to the root causes of all the social evils that exist and. handicap the progress of women towards their emancipation and their enjoyment of equal rights with men. The Council should mould public opinion in the best manner possible to implement the Human Rights Charter as agreed upon by the signatory nations of the U.N.O. She also made it clear that she had invited those progressive and enlightened women who, she felt, were in accord with these ideals, but if there were any amongst them who were not in accord, they were in no way obliged to join this Council. Women among the masses have promised us their full support if the Women's Council is serious in its endeavours to remove the social and legal disabilities from which they have been suffering.

Mrs. Fozdar then invited those present to form an ad hoc committee which would be empowered to invite the various women's organizations and other women in Singapore to form a permanent body which would go ahead with the work of the Council.

An ad hoc committee consisting of the following was then duly elected: -

Mrs. Elizabeth Choy President
Che Zahrah Vice President
Mrs. Goh Kok Kee "
Mrs. Vilasini Menon. Hon. Treasurer
Mrs. Shirin Fozdar Hon. Secretary
Mrs. E.V. Davies Member
Mrs. J. Alcock "
Mrs. A. Alsagoff "
Mrs. Helen Tan "

After the formation of the ad hoc committee Mrs. Fozdar thanked all who had come and lent their active support towards the formation of the Council of Women in Singapore.

Mrs. E.V. Davies explained that some women had asked her if there was any need for a move for women's emancipation in Singapore; as they said the women here were already emancipated. She replied to them that her own daughter had put her the same question and she had advised her daughter not to imagine that the masses among the women in Singapore were emancipated. Mrs. Davies also said that we must enlist the sympathy of men and invite their help.

Then Mrs. Alcock suggested that the Council should investigate the existing legal rights and privileges given to women which should be taken help of by enforcing and implementing them. She further suggested we must seek men's cooperation by properly publicizing the aims and objects of the Women's Council which is to be formed.

E. Choy

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Last modified: 25 April 2001