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How philanthropy can help tackle gender-based online harms
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How philanthropy can help tackle gender-based online harms

John Doe
John Doe
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Technology and the Internet have made our lives better in many ways. But they are also facilitating an alarming increase in online abuse, particularly of young women. There is upskirting, where the perpetrator takes intrusive photos or videos up someone’s skirt without their permission. There is revenge porn, where explicit photos or videos of a person are posted on the Internet, typically by a former sexual partner.

With the ubiquity of social media, there is flaming (insulting someone with offensive language), doxxing (revealing private information), and cyberstalking. And on encrypted direct messaging platforms, victims are being threatened with violence. As actress Ashley Judd noted in a powerful TEDTalk in 2016, the online abuse of women has spiralled out of control (Judd, 2016).

In Singapore, a poll conducted in January 2022 by the Sunlight Alliance of Action (AfA), a public-private-people partnership to tackle online harms, found that close to half of the 1,000 respondents polled have personally experienced one or more types of online harms (MCI, 2022). Most of those who faced gender-based cyber abuse were between 15 to 35 years. With young girls, there is the added danger of sexual grooming.

Yet, women do not always come forward to seek freedom from online harm. One reason is a lack of knowledge about recourse. Another revolves around the gendered myths that direct blame towards the victim, writes academic Laura Vitis in Technology-Facilitated Violence Against Women in Singapore: Key Considerations (Vitis, 2021).

What can be done? This is a problem that requires a whole-of-society effort. It needs awareness, advocacy, education, as well as enhancements in regulatory response, law enforcement and social services support. We can start by talking about what constitutes technology-facilitated sexual violence. Reinforce the message that image-based sexual abuse, camera sexual voyeurism and coerced sex-based communication are offences. Urge tech companies to make their services safer by removing offending images or gendered invective. 

On July 13, the Ministry of Communications and Information launched a public consultation on a Code of Practice for Online Safety (Reach, 2022). This will require social media services with significant reach or impact to have system-wide processes to mitigate exposure to harmful online content for Singapore-based users, including those below the age of 18.

Aside from this, we need to empower women to protect themselves against online abuse. Let them know how to record evidence and who to contact for support. These include the government’s 24-hour National Anti-Violence Helpline, AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre, and TOUCH Cyber Wellness. There is also Solid Ground, a volunteer-run project that provides step-by-step guides for those facing online abuse.

More recently, in April 2022, a new non profit was formed to empower, assist and support women and girls facing gender-based harm. SG Her Empowerment Limited (SHE) was born out of the work of Sunlight AfA and is chaired by Stefanie Yuen Thio, a member of Sunlight AfA. Stefanie is also a managing partner at TSMP Law Corporation and a board member at the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).

The new charity plans to work with technology platforms to streamline reporting procedures and expedite takedowns. It will also liaise with the Law Society Pro Bono Services Office to provide legal clinics and pro bono legal services to those coming to the newly set up Victims’ Support Centre. SHE also hopes to work with the police to provide more holistic and empathetic support to the victims.

“This is an urgent and underserved need in our community,” says Stefanie. “Philanthropy can be a powerful driver and partner in our collaborative, public-private effort to combat online harm. This is a scourge that needs more than government regulation; it requires a whole-of-community response, from setting right mindsets, to calling out offending behaviours, to taking up the cause of victims,” she adds.

In addition to tackling online harms, and in light of the recommendations from the Singapore Government’s White Paper on Women’s Development released earlier this year, SHE will also be rolling out more programmes to support women and girls generally, hoping to work with both men and women to advance and equip the gender.

As a cause-neutral advisor, CFS works with a number of charities and initiatives that raise awareness about gender injustices and provide access to justice for victims of gender abuse, including online harm. If you would like to find out more about supporting these causes or for more information on the work we do, please go to www.cf.org.sg/grants/what-we-support/.

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.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Association of Women for Action and Research. (20 April 2022). Image-based sexual abuse featured in 7 in 10 cases of technology-facilitated sexual violence seen by AWARE in 2021.
https://www.aware.org.sg/2022/04/image-based-sexual-abuse-featured-in-7-in-10-cases-of-technology-facilitated-sexual-violence-seen-by-aware-in-2021/

Judd, Ashley. (2016). How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control. TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/ashley_judd_how_online_abuse_of_women_has_spiraled_out_of_control/transcript

Ministry of Communications and Information. (25 March 2022). Sunlight AfA Releases Topline Findings from Poll on Online Harms at Webinar.
https://www.mci.gov.sg/pressroom/news-and-stories/pressroom/2022/3/sunlight-afa-releases-topline-findings-from-poll-on-online-harms-at-webinar

Reach. (2022). Public Consultation on enhancing online safety for users in Singapore.
https://www.reach.gov.sg/Participate/Public-Consultation/Ministry-of-Communications-and-Information/public-consultation-on-enhancing-online-safety-for-users-in-singapore

Today. (13 July 2022). Singapore lays out proposals to shield young social media users from harmful content; seeks public feedbackhttps://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-lays-out-proposals-shield-young-social-media-users-harmful-content-seeks-public-feedback-1942991?cid=braze-tdy_Today-Morning-Brief_newsletter_14072022_tdy%0A%0A

TSMP Law Corporation. (25 April 2022). SG Her Empowerment Limited (SHE).
https://www.tsmplaw.com/news/sg-her-empowerment-limited-she/

Vitis, Laura. (2021). Technology-Facilitated Violence Against Women in Singapore: Key Considerations. Emerald Publishing Limited. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/978-1-83982-848-520211031/full/pdf

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The Straits Times: Philip Yeo biography raises more than $500k for charity

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“More than half a million dollars have been raised for charity in conjunction with the launch of former senior bureaucrat Philip Yeo’s biography, Neither Civil Nor Servant.

The funds collected by the Economic Development Innovations Singapore (EDIS) – which Mr Yeo chairs – will go towards helping underprivileged children, via the company’s corporate social responsibility arm, EDIS Cares.

The monies will enable EDIS Cares to expand its programmes in Singapore to reach a targeted 300 children over the next three years, EDIS said yesterday.

The EDIS Cares fund is administered by the Community Foundation of Singapore.”
Read more here.

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Stories Of Impact

Retired doctor donates $1m to start new donor-advised fund

John Doe
John Doe
two elderly climbing up stairs

Dr Chua, a retired doctor, 80, gave $1 million to start the Bamboo Lotus Fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) in July after being inspired by another retiree’s donation of $1 million to start a charitable trust that he did the same thing. 

Describing himself as an “ordinary” general practitioner, and not a “highly paid medical specialist”, Dr Chua said: “I hope (my example) dispels the myth that only prominent individuals or corporate organisations can make significant donations. “To me, $1 million is a significant amount that will get others to notice and start to consider how much they can give too.”

Dr Chua, who has a daughter, said that helping others comes “naturally” to him and his family. Over the years, they have given “small contributions” to charity. But when he turned 80 this year and felt he may not “have many years left”, he decided to help in a more substantial way.

He plans to help disadvantaged women and families, and the arts and heritage through his new fund.

The retired doctor says bamboo, which signifies resilience, is his favourite plant, while lotus is one of the characters of his wife’s Chinese name. Thus, the Bamboo Lotus Fund was born.

It is one of 165 donor-advised funds under the Community Foundation. Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a fund. The foundation manages the money, advises donors on the needs in the community and disburses the funds according to their wishes.

CFS chief executive officer Catherine Loh said the number of donor-advised funds started to grow exponentially several years ago. At the start of 2018, there were 110 such funds. The biggest donors have given more than $20 million to set up their funds.

It took 10 years for the CFS to attract $100 million in donations for all the donor-advised funds set up by various individuals or companies. But it took just the past three years for that sum to hit $200 million, Ms Loh said.

The CFS was ranked third in a report on the 10 largest philanthropic foundations here.

Ms Loh said: “Through times of crisis like the pandemic, individuals have become more open and willing to give more sustainably to make their giving more meaningful.”

A growing awareness of the CFS’ track record has also attracted more donors to set up such funds.

They include successful professionals, retirees or individuals who are semi-retired, and companies.

They give to a wide range of causes, with mental health and the environment among those growing in interest, Ms Loh said.

Since its formation in 2008, the CFS has given out $122 million in grants to a variety of needs.

Dr Chua said: “I hope that this will inspire others in my profession or people of my age, to also donate their money before we pass on.”

To find out more about Legacy Giving, visit us at Legacy Giving or contact us here.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Charitable funds boost donations in a tough year for giving

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"Explore The Straits Times charity news page, highlighting philanthropic efforts and inspiring stories."

SINGAPORE – More wealthy people are setting up charitable funds that give at least six-figure sums to their chosen causes.

There were 143 donor-advised funds set up with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), disbursing $20.2 million to charitable causes in the non-profit organisation’s financial year that ended in March.

This is double the 70 funds giving out $11.7 million in the financial year that ended in March 2015.

Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a donor-advised fund with the CFS, which manages the money, advises donors on the various needs in the community and disburses it according to the donor’s wishes.

Its chief executive officer, Ms Catherine Loh, told The Straits Times there is a greater awareness of the CFS’ work and preference to give through donor-advised funds, which allows donors to give in a more informed, structured and sustained manner over time. And donors get to name their fund.

For example, the donated sum can be held at the foundation in perpetuity and invested, with invested returns going to the charitable causes over time.

Ms Loh said more people are also setting up legacy funds, like those in memory of a late loved one, adding to the rise in donor-advised funds. Or donors may set up a fund to be disbursed after their deaths.

So far, the largest sum donated to start a fund has been $24 million, set up by a family in their late father’s name, Ms Loh said without giving more details.

She noted that such funds have been especially needed during the current Covid-19 pandemic, where more people are in need and many charities say donations are falling.

Since February, the CFS’ donor-advised funds have given out about $1.2 million for purposes related to Covid-19, such as topping up phone cards for migrant workers and buying masks for charities caring for seniors.

Many donor-advised funds, however, are set up to give to specific causes that donors and their families care about.

Mr Lien Ber Luen gave $200,000 in 2018 to set up the Lien Shih Sheng Foundation, which gives to educational causes among others, in memory of his late grandfather, the editor-in-chief of Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau. Mr Lien Shih Sheng was a literary pioneer here, involved in many arts, education and cultural activities, his grandson said.

The Lien Shih Sheng Foundation has funded scholarships at Raffles Institution for children from low-income families and it will also support a new programme to give financial aid to children from underprivileged families to attend preschool regularly.

Mr Lien, who is in his 40s, works in a local asset management firm and is married with two children, said: “He was a doting grandfather and a role model for me. I set up this fund to remember him and to continue his legacy of contributing to the community.”

Like Mr Lien, over half of the funds at the CFS were set up by donors aged between 40 and 60, ranging from working professionals to those with inherited wealth, Ms Loh said.

While supporting education and helping the sick and the poor are evergreen favourites, causes relating to environmental and sustainability issues are also becoming more popular. Donors are also more savvy.

She said: “We have seen donors asking more questions and moving away from just chequebook philanthropy over the years.”

Instead, they are keen to understand the root causes of social problems and to find ways to tackle them, instead of simply handing over their money.

Besides the CFS, the SymAsia Foundation, which is established by private bank Credit Suisse for its clients, also offers donor-advised funds.

The SymAsia Foundation did not reveal the number of such funds, but said its clients “typically make a commitment of $1 million for donations”.

Ms Young Jin Yee, CEO of SymAsia Foundation, added: “I would say no other cause has brought our donors together like the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

She said about a third of its donors from across the Asia-Pacific region have stepped up to alleviate the difficulties brought about by the virus. This includes giving financial aid to students in Singapore whose families were affected by Covid-19, and supporting the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus being jointly developed by the Duke-NUS Medical School and an American pharmaceutical firm.

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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Including the Excluded: Everyone Plays a Part

John Doe
John Doe
Standing man in blue shirt with wooden wall backdrop.

Through working and volunteering in the non-profit sector, I often meet people living in dire circumstances. I vividly remember one incident while distributing breakfast to families living in public rental units. Speaking in simple English, the mother thanked us profusely for the warm porridge and noodles – generously contributed by a donor – so the money saved could go towards their monthly transport.

Giving goes a long way. But recognising and acknowledging the realities of those in need may be just as important.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

Look around the world and it is not hard to see how the unmet needs of marginalised groups can lead to tension and ruptures in the social fabric. In Singapore, social exclusion and by default, inclusion, has become a hot subject – not the least because of our incredibly diverse society, aging population and the widening inequality.

Responding to these challenges require us to think more deeply and tangibly about the ways we respond to the disenfranchised. I believe developing empathy and simply taking time to understand the challenges of others, will play a critical first step.

I was encouraged to see in a 2016 study of Singaporeans’ attitudes towards social inclusion, that many saw the importance of ‘celebrating diversity’ and making a greater effort to understand vulnerable groups; be it the disabled, the mentally ill, migrant workers or disadvantaged households. The message is clear: we all play a part in making Singapore more inclusive.

At the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), it is our mission to identify underserved needs – and then empower donors to give meaningfully to meet them. In this issue of Change Matters, I’m happy to share several developments that will enable you to contribute to a wide range of social causes.

You might have seen the recent news about the launch of the LIFT (Learning Initiatives for Employment) Community Impact Fund. LIFT supports programmes that provide vocational training, social support and suitable job placements in the open market for disadvantaged persons.  Through LIFT, you’ll be able to help people with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk to make a better life.

We also highlight the incredible dedication of HOME (or the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics). Amidst the challenges, HOME has steadfastly championed the well-being of migrant workers in Singapore over the last decade. Learn about how your support to CFS’s Migrants Emergency Assistance and Support (MEANS) Fund helps HOME provide vital financial assistance in a migrant worker’s time of crisis.

With your continued support, I believe we can help to foster a sense of belonging and empathy towards those who have less, enabling them greater opportunities to participate meaningfully in our society.

Joseph Lua

Assistant Director

Community Foundation of Singapore

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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”。

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.

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