The Singapore Council of Women, Documents

Philip Holden, Area Coordinator (Literature and the Arts), University Scholars Programme

This section of the Singapore Web collects a series of documents relating to the women's movement in Singapore during the decade from the foundation of Singapore Council of Women in 1951 to the enactment of the Women's Charter by the new People's Action Party government in 1961. While the documents collected here do include speeches by People's Action Party MLA Chan Choy Siong, they focus on the tactics and beliefs of members of the civil society organization the Singapore Council of Women. Phyllis Chew has described the SCW in the following manner:

The group's single-minded thrust against the practice of polygamy gained its widespread publicity and for the first time in Singapore's history, excited and engaged the loyalty and energy of a broad spectrum of women towards achieving a common goal. The SCW was strikingly successful. Within five years, the Muslim Ordinance was passed which included many of the demands which were first brought to public attention by the SCW. Within eight years, in 1961, the Women's Charter granting most of their demands, became law in Singapore. (112)

Chew's article on the SCW is the most comprehensive source of information on the organization. Original documents here appear with the kind permission of Mr. Jamshed Fozdar, and the assistance of Dr. Phyllis Chew, and are excerpted from a larger collection made by Phyllis Chew preserved at the National Archives of Singapore, Microfilm Reel No. NA 2044.

Works Cited

Chelvam, Charmian. "The Women's Charter." Academic Exercise, Dept.of History, U of Singapore, 1972.

Chew, Phyllis Ghim Lian. "The Singapore Council of Women and the Women's Movement." Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 25.1 (March, 1994): 112-140.


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Last modified: 25 April 2001