Singapore women’s rights group Aware elects Ong Soh Chin as president

Communications professional Ong ran unopposed for her first term. She will succeed Margaret Thomas, founding member of Aware, who held the position since 2018.

Aware Singapore board members
Gender equality group Aware held its annual general meeting online last Saturday and elected its new board. Image: Aware 

Women’s rights and gender equality advocacy group Aware elected a new board on Saturday, with veteran journalist and communications professional Ong Soh Chin announced as its president. 

At its annual general meeting, held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ong ran unopposed for her first four-year term as Aware president. She will take over from Margaret Thomas, who held the position from 2018 to 2022. Thomas will remain on the board. 

Ong Soh Chin Aware Singapore president

Aware’s newly-elected president Ong Soh Chin. Image: Aware

New additions to the Aware board include long-time member Fikri Alkhatib, president of optical company CooperVision Kathy Park, and social science academic Laavanya Kathiravelu. At 29, Alkhatib is Aware’s youngest board member since the Singapore-based organisation instituted a board in 2010. 

Park has been named Aware’s assistant treasurer, while incumbent treasurer and entrepreneur Aarathi Arumugam retained a position on the board. 

The issues of gender equality and harassment faced by women in the workplace have come under the spotlight in Singapore over the past year. Its Ministry of Social and Family Development dedicated 2021 as the Year of Celebrating SG Women and parliament most recently endorsed a 10-year road map to ensure all Singapore women have greater access to opportunities, and more equal partnerships with men. 

Ong said in a press statement that it is a great honour to take the helm of an organisation that has made an indelible impact on Singapore society. 

“The next two years will be a critical period for Aware. With the White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, Singapore is entering an exciting new chapter in its journey to gender equality.” 

Ong has more than 30 years of experience in the media and communications industry. She has worked as a journalist at Singapore’s English-language flagship daily The Straits Times, and headed the communications and editorial departments at various organisations, including subscription streaming service Netflix, think tank the Institute of Policy Studies and Shell, an oil major. 

Aware executive director Corinna Lim noted that board diversity is an increasingly prominent part of the conversation on equality in Singapore. She said that the new Aware board is ethnically diverse and has members across a wide age range. 

Other members of the Aware board include Aware counsellor Eliza Kang, former communications professional Penelope Shone, academic Teo You Yenn and corporate lawyer Zheng Huifen. 

Further assignment of board positions will take place at the new board’s first meeting next month. 

Founded in 1985, Aware has carried out research into numerous issues affecting women, including workplace harassment, single motherhood and poverty. It runs a sexual assault befrienders service and is a registered charity in Singapore. 

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