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Three rising economic identities of women
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Three rising economic identities of women

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The world is far from being equal and fair for women, and the Covid-19 crisis has amplified this disparity.

As the global Covid-19 vaccine roll-out promises light at the end of the tunnel, the world is still accounting for the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and, consequently, the sacrifices they have made during this time – whether it is at work or at home.

Singapore recognises this and has declared 2021 as the Year of Celebrating SG Women. Meanwhile, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day on March 8 is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”.

How can we enshrine women’s economic value through permanent action, thus forging a new dawn for working women post-pandemic?

The world is far from being equal and fair for women, and the crisis has amplified this disparity. Women form 39 per cent of global employment but account for 54 per cent of overall job losses, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Covid-19 has also made women’s jobs 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s jobs.

In a Deloitte Global survey that polled 400 working women across nine countries, nearly 82 per cent said they had been adversely impacted by the pandemic – largely due to shouldering more caregiving/homeschooling responsibilities. Of these, nearly 70 per cent were concerned about career progression.

Yet the fundamental human right of gender parity presents a critical economic opportunity. Righting the imbalance will help increase women’s economic participation and foster a more inclusive economy, which can drive sustainable development worldwide. This could mean adding US$13 trillion (S$17.3 trillion) to global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030, according to McKinsey. But if nothing is done, global GDP growth could fall by US$1 trillion in 2030.

To counter this disparity and create an equal future for women, corporate and government policies must support women’s full economic participation. To do this, we should recognise three formidable identities of women: as worker, consumer and investor.

Women as workers

When schools in the United States resumed last September and instituted home- based learning, 80 per cent of the 1.1 million job-leavers were women. In December, women lost 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000. To top it off, one in four women in the US is considering leaving the workplace due to challenges created by Covid-19, according to a joint report by McKinsey and LeanIn.org.

If issues are not addressed now, there would be fewer women leaders in the future.

Suffice it to say, there is still no equal pay for equal work. Singapore women still earned 6 per cent less than their male peers for doing the same work, according to a January 2020 report by Ministry of Manpower researchers Eileen Lin and Grace Gan and National University of Singapore economist Jessica Pan.

This is despite more women having higher educational attainment and increased workforce participation. Researchers attributed this difference to caregiving, a role that usually falls on women. Time taken off work leads to gaps in work experience, which affects career progression and earnings.

The gender pay gap was also due to women being more prevalent in sectors such as hospitality and healthcare having lower pay, compared with male-dominated occupations such as doctors and science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals with typically higher pay.

Company and national policies should be designed to retain women workers. They should include tools for women to work remotely, retrain if necessary, maintain work- life balance as well as paid-leave policies that encompass childcare and eldercare.

In Singapore, a change in whole-of-nation/society mindset to share domestic responsibilities more equally is underway, with incentives for firms to adopt flexible work arrangements and increase paid paternity leave. This is significant, given the deep-rooted Asian mindset of gender stereotypes, and could pave the way for other Asian nations to follow.

Women as consumers

By 2030, 100 million more women will enter the global workforce, according to Frost & Sullivan’s Global Mega Trends to 2030.

This means that economic and financial power will shift significantly towards women. In fact, a Nielsen study showed that women are set to control 75 per cent of discretionary spending by 2028. Not only do they shop for themselves, they generally are in charge of household purchases. And if they like a brand, 85 per cent of women will remain loyal to it, Nielsen reported in 2018.

Yet media campaigns have been found lacking. In a 2018 study by Omnicom Media Group that surveyed 1,000 people, 39 per cent felt that advertising did not represent all genders accurately and 30 per cent said that brands misrepresented them and their gender.

Meanwhile, advertisements in Singapore were six times more likely to show women doing housework than men, and men were 32 per cent more likely to be featured in lead roles, according to a 2018-2020 study by Aware and marketing consultancy R3 of 200 television ads from Singapore’s top 100 advertisers.

Companies that pay heed to their messaging are duly rewarded. At Unilever, non-discriminatory advertising created 37 per cent more brand impact and a 28 per cent increase in purchase intent, a 2019 study by market researcher Kantar showed.

Upmarket exercise equipment company Peloton found this out the hard way. In November 2019, it released a 30-second video that showed a husband giving his wife a Peloton stationary bike. Critics slammed it for being sexist, tone-deaf and even dystopian. The backlash may have contributed to Peloton’s 15 per cent stock drop in three days, or about US$1.5 billion loss in market value. Peloton stood by its ad and insisted that the plunge was unrelated.

Companies that target the female audience should also track the percentage of women in managerial positions as well as on their boards. After all, companies with greater gender diversity were 25 per cent more likely to outperform their competition, McKinsey found in a 2020 report.

Women as investors

According to Boston Consulting Group, women are adding US$5 trillion per year to their assets globally and female-owned assets are likely to reach US$93 trillion by 2023. When making investment decisions, the study also found that while men mainly focused on an asset’s track record, women also considered environmental, social, and governance factors and preferred those that created positive impact as well.

Men were more willing to invest in speculative stocks that they believed would make money more quickly, but women preferred funds with a consistent record and diversified their investments, according to Warwick Business School’s 2018 study of 2,800 British men and women. The result of women’s more deliberative approach: Their returns were nearly 2 per cent higher than that of men’s, Warwick found.

As women accumulate more wealth, they are also challenging traditional notions of philanthropy. In the US, 93 per cent of high-net worth women gave money to charitable causes, compared with 87 per cent of men, according to the 2018 US Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy.

Whereas donations used to be attributed to their husbands or made anonymously, women are becoming more visible on the philanthropic scene as they carve their own identities as a philanthropist, as seen in the case of Mrs Melinda Gates and Ms Priscilla Chan.

Women are also more inclined to give collectively and this has led to a proliferation of giving circles, where donors pool and decide together the allocation of proceeds. They also prefer to give to causes supporting girls and women, which they feel is most effective in addressing other societal issues, the Trust Study found.

Pre-Covid-19, the World Economic Forum estimated it would take 257 years to close the gender gap. Even as the world continues to grapple with the crisis, it is even more paramount now to take a gender lens in socio-economic policies with women playing a pivotal role in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Trina Liang-Lin is Singapore’s newly appointed representative to the Group of Twenty for Women’s Economic Representation. She is past president of UN Women Singapore and the Financial Women’s Association, past vice-president of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and past co-chair of BoardAgender.

Trina serves on the Board of the Community Foundation of Singapore since 1 September 2018.

Credit: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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S’pore couple plan to leave money to charity after their death in new campaign to promote legacy giving

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SINGAPORE – It was their son’s degenerative eye disease that set ophthalmologist Dr Audrey Looi and her neurosurgeon husband Dr Ang Beng Ti on the path of philanthropy.

The couple were devastated around a decade ago to find out that James, now 19, suffers from Stargardt’s which causes progressive vision loss, when he was in primary school.

To make matters worse, there was a serious lack of programmes then to support children with low vision in their educational and other needs, Dr Ang, 51, said.

In 2011, the couple set up the charity iC2 PrepHouse, which teaches children with low vision the skills to cope with daily life and supports them to remain in mainstream schools.

They now plan to leave $200,000 or more in their wills to set up an endowment fund to support the iC2 PrepHouse’s work and to fund scholarships for needy undergraduates of the Singapore Management University (SMU).

James is now a business undergraduate at the SMU. The Angs have two other children, aged 13 and 21.

Dr Looi, 50, said: “So instead of giving it (our wealth) all to our children, we have started thinking about putting aside a part of it for charity. I think we have to be a little less self-focused and to give back to society.

“We told our children that they can contribute to the fund (in future). And I would like to think that our kids can manage without this sum we are giving to charity.

“Long after we are gone, we have this charity that continues to provide help for children with low vision. iC2 PrepHouse is our family legacy.”

The couple are among the donors fronting the “A Greater Gift” campaign in a three-month drive to promote legacy giving that was launched on Tuesday (Nov 24) morning.

The campaign was started by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), a charity which promotes philanthropy here.

Legacy giving is broadly defined as future donations to charity, such as in the form of leaving money or property to charitable causes after one’s death.

Ms Catherine Loh, chief executive of the CFS, said the charity has seen more interest in legacy giving in the past few years, by people from different demographic groups including singles and married couples without children.

However, she added that Singaporeans’ interest in legacy giving lags behind Western societies, noting that it is taboo in Asian cultures to talk about death and even writing wills.

She said it is changing though.

“People think that legacy giving is only for the very rich. But we want to tell people, nothing is too small. We want to change this concept that it’s only for the very rich.

“Another thing people think is that if they give a legacy gift, their children will not have anything. We want to say it’s not an either-or (situation) and they can consider leaving a part of it (their wealth) to charity,” added Ms Loh.

While there are the uber rich who are leaving millions to charity after their death, some charities have also received as little as $10,000 from a person’s estate, she said.

The CFS will provide resources to help charities engage their donors on legacy giving, among its efforts to boost this form of philanthropy here.

Besides the Angs, the other donors who are part of the campaign include MP and lawyer Nadia Ahmad Samdin, 30, and venture capitalist Hian Goh, 46.

In their campaign video, Ms Nadia said she went to school with the help of financial assistance and now wants to help at-risk young people, while Mr Goh wants to create opportunities for innovators to reach their full potential.

Mr Goh is a co-founder of the Asian Food Channel, a pay-television channel now known as the Asian Food Network.

Source: The Straits Times

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Stories Of Impact

#MyGivingJourney x Trina Liang-Lin: Investing in a sustainable future 

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#MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS to celebrate inspiring women and their work in the philanthropy sector. We are proud to feature Trina Liang-Lin, Managing Director at Templebridge Investments and Board of Director at CFS. 

Trina had a back to nature, farm to table experience growing up. Right up to the late 80s, her father’s family-owned farms in Lim Chu Kang, raising chickens, ducks and cultivating vegetables. That gave her a front row seat to the benefits of producing our own food and using natural resources thoughtfully.  

Today, Trina is investing her time and resources to push eco-consciousness to the top of our agenda. In November 2021, she led the launch of Women in Sustainability and Environment (WISE), the first women’s society in Singapore to focus concerted gender action towards Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12. 

WISE hopes to educate and empower a community of women who, in their roles as consumers, business owners and professionals, can move the needle on creating a greener world. This will be done through lectures, mentorships and awards. “Climate change disproportionately affects women and girls around the world so it is important for women to be represented in eco leadership circles and in green economy jobs. We need greater participation, inclusiveness and visibility of key female stakeholders in sustainability and climate advocacy,” says Trina, who works for a US$5 billion global fund where she focuses on clean energy investments in Southeast Asia. 

Trina has been elbow-deep in social and community work for much of her professional life. The causes she champions are decidedly diverse: she has given her time and expertise to uplift women, the arts, education and animal welfare. She helped found the Financial Women’s Association Singapore, which offers women in finance a support network, and was a past-President of UN Women (Singapore). She is currently Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women.  

Her giving journey has seen her serve on the boards of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy CentreSingapore Council of Women’s Organisations and Sentosa Development Corporation. In line with her passion for conserving wild species and their habitat, she currently volunteers on the boards of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Singapore) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That’s not all: Trina is also a board member of Victoria Junior College and the Singapore Repertory Theatre.  

For their 20th wedding anniversary in 2016, Trina and her husband Edmund Lin established a foundation to give back in a more strategic and effective way. They explored different avenues but opted to go with CFS as it works closely with over 400 charities across a wide spectrum and can establish philanthropic funds seamlessly and quickly. Their Lin Foundation has supported causes that resonate with them, such as education, where they fund scholarships at Singapore Management University.   

“We decided to start giving back relatively early as we want to start making an impact now rather than later,” says Trina. “This is a long-term commitment for us and with CFS expertly guiding us in managing a foundation and making grants, our giving is optimised and can be scaled up further.” 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more stories about the #MyGivingJourney series here. 

This article was written by Sunita Sue Leng, a former financial analyst and journalist, who believes that the written word can be a force for good. She hopes to someday write something worth plagiarising. 

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News

The Straits Times: The new philanthropists in town

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by Theresa Tan, 26 June 2016

There is also a growing number of donors who have started charitable funds parked under groups like the Community Foundation of Singapore and the SymAsia Foundation. Both charities manage their donors’ funds and disburse them to each donor’s chosen causes, thus saving the donors the cost and effort of starting their own foundation. A sum of at least $200,000 is required to set up a charitable fund with the Community Foundation, and 82 funds have been formed since it was set up in 2008.

…..Also giving to a specific cause are Mr and Mrs William Bird. They pledged $1 million, through the Community Foundation of Singapore, for outings for frail seniors to attractions such as Gardens by the Bay and the zoo. Mr Bird, a Briton who is now a Singapore citizen, is 70 years old. He made his money from the logistics business. His and his wife Mary have three grown-up children.

While visiting some elderly people whom they helped, the couple realised that such seniors felt lonely and isolated, as they were unable to go out. Mr Bird says: “We were affected by the fact that the seniors had such a poor quality of life, and thought more could be done for them to enjoy the golden times of their lives.”

Each year since the Outing for the Elderly Fund was set up in 2010, about 1,600 elderly people a year have benefited. They especially love to visit supermarkets, where they are given $20 to buy whatever they want.

Mr George Phua, a 79-year-old resident of the Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens, was taken to a Giant supermarket last month. He was delighted to buy his favourite coffee and chocolates. He tells The Sunday Times: “It’s wonderful.”

Read more

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Stories Of Impact

How Collaborative Philanthropy is Powering Support for Mental Health

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No friends, no job, and no confidence. That’s what one person grappled with when he first attended a Growth Circle run by Growth Collective SG. By the end of the year, he had built some friendships and was weighing new career opportunities. His self-worth soared. 

Growth Circles are a powerful means to open up mental wellness support to anyone in need. With the backing of philanthropic dollars and like-minded partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Growth Collective SG is sparking a movement for accessible well-being that is gaining momentum.

Growth Collective SG grew out of the Community Mental Health Champions initiative. A collaborative project by CFS and Empact that was generously funded by the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, it began in 2021 with the aim of building a pool of people equipped to help others access mental health support. Mental wellbeing is one of five focal areas that CFS has identified as a priority for grant making in the coming years.

Growth Collective SG is made up of the following organisations:

  • Growthbeans, a social enterprise that provides coaching-infused programs, products and services to equip individuals and leaders with self-awareness, compassion andkey people skills to grow resiliently, connect authentically, and give meaningfully for their well-being.
  • SG Assist , which supports caregivers and their loved ones through an app and volunteers;
  • Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), whose mission is to transform society through applied social science and to inspire lifelong education;
  • Psychosocial Initiative, a social enterprise that promotes psychological first aid skills and emotional/mental health literacy awareness;
  • Empatho, a consultancy that provides social, emotional and mental wellness training to organisations and schools and wants to shift the mental health paradigm from a remedial model to a preventive one;
  • Singapore Anglican Community Services, the community service arm of the Diocese of Singapore;
  • Community of Peer Support Specialists, (CPSS) is a ground-up collective made up of professionally trained and certified Peer support specialists interested in growing Singapore’s mental health peer support movement. They leverage on their lived experiences to provide support to persons with mental health challenges while engaging them in clinical, community and workplace settings.

The idea of Growth Circles for mental health came from Growthbeans, which has been running sharing circles and coaching circles since 2015. These are psychological safe spaces for sharing, reflecting and building meaningful relationships. Each Growth Circle is led by a trained facilitator, who empower individuals through active listening and asking effective questions. “Mental health is a state of wellbeing. To empower individuals to better support their personal wellbeing, we want to provide them with more than a safe space to belong. We want to provide a platform for people to gain self-awareness and perspectives, and have a guided way to practise and grow their person-centric skills with the support of others. And, we have seen the impact that Growth Circles have made,” says Shane Yan, a co-founder of Growthbeans and an ICF certified coach. Shane is the Chair of the steering committee of Growth Collective SG and sits on the steering committee of the SG Mental Well-Being Network.

Drawing upon the varied resources, experiences and competencies of its members who cover the spectrum of the mental health continuum, Growth Collective SG came up with a framework to support four aspects of personal growth – social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual growth. It then set about training Growth Facilitators to lead the Growth Circles. They set boundaries, offer psychological first aid and help participants develop soft skills such as questioning skills, empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence.

Growth Circles typically comprise four to five individuals and take place in person or online. The very first one, held at SUSS, garnered a good response from curious students. “Many people feel burnt out or overwhelmed. They appreciate the friendships made, opportunity to share and process their emotions, the new perspectives gained to lift their emotional and mental burden, and the awareness that they are not alone” says Shane. There is now a waitlist for many of these sessions. And, it is attracting a growing diversity of people of different ages, walks of life, and life experiences.

Even more encouragingly, the practice of and learnings from these Growth Circles are being incorporated into the curriculum at SUSS, for undergraduates studying psychology while postgraduate students will undergo the Growth Facilitators training. Longer-term, Shane says the goal is to build a sustainable, scalable offering that bolsters not just mental wellbeing, but employability, as well as community resilience.

“We are grateful to Johnson & Johnson Foundation. Without their funding, the dream would have taken much longer to materialise,” says Shane. And ultimately, its success has hinged on different stakeholders across the charitable, government and private philanthropic sectors working together to engender change.

“A collective allows a diverse group of stakeholders to work together to reinforce each other’s efforts and achieve more impact. Through Johnson & Johnson Foundation’s funding, CFS took on a backbone role in the collective to align activities, establish shared measurement practices, while mobilising and managing resources,” says CFS.

Growth Collective SG has a promising pipeline of projects. This includes running Growth Circles for residents of Nee Soon South Community Centre and Yuhua Community Club, a partnership with the National Gallery to combine Growth Circles with their How to Art with Friends program for its upcoming Wellness Festival, and an MOU with the Institute for Human Resource Professionals to hone skills for workplace wellbeing.

Enabling community well-being takes an entire ecosystem working together in partnership. Growth Collective SG has officially launched its Together, We Grow movement on 1 April 2023. Join the movement, collaborate with us, and bring Growth Circles to every part of Singapore. Find out more here.

To find out more about how CFS empowers collaborative philanthropy, click here .

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