In celebration of the International Women’s Day, SSA women together with our community partners, launched a Women for Peace movement, with the hosting of a Women for Peace Interfaith Symposium on 9 March 2019 at the SSA Headquarters. Close to 500 people attended the event, including guests from various interfaith and community organisations.
The Interfaith Symposium was part of a three-part peace movement carrying the theme “Empowerment of Women in the New Era”. At the Symposium, the following two activities were launched:
- Empowering activities for women such as the Interest-based activities; and
- Community Befriending Programme that focuses on outreach by women volunteers to women in need.
Through these initiatives, the ground up peace movement transcending religions, ethnicities, culture, social and economic backgrounds aims to bring together women for the common purpose of peace.
Symposium: “Women Empowerment through Religious Faith”
This theme of the Interfaith Symposium was inspired by the SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2018 Peace Proposal to the United Nations where President Ikeda wrote about the empowerment of women as the key to resolving global challenges,
“Women’s empowerment cannot be an optional agenda: it is an urgent priority for many people in dire situations. …It is the pledge of the SGI to continue striving to create a groundswell of people’s solidarity with which to surmount the challenges facing humanity, grounded in efforts to safeguard the life and dignity of each individual.”
Entitled “Empowerment of Women through Religious Faith”, the Symposium saw panelists from three different faiths of Catholic Christian, Islamic faith and Nichiren Buddhism, coming together to highlight the key tenets of peace that underscores the roles of women in their respective faiths.The panel speakers representing the Catholic Christian, Islamic faith and Nichiren Buddhism respectively were:
- Ms Michelle Voo, member of the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue (ACCIRD);
- Madam Rahayu Mohamad, President of PPIS (Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura or the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association); and
- Ms Sim Pauline, SSA Women Division Zone leader
During the panel sharing, each speaker echoed similar insights on how the key tenets of Catholic-Christianity, Islam and Buddhism embrace the equal dignity in both men and women, and that the soft power and virtues of women are paramount in achieving peace and cohesion at the individual and societal level.
On the same day, SSA together with Dr Tan Weng Mooi, Chief of the Community Mental Health Division from the Agency for Integrated Care launched the ‘Friends in the Orchid Room’ (FOR) befriending programme that will reach out to the elderly and people of special needs in the community.
Mdm Sek Soon Heng, SSA Women Division Chief and Chairperson of the Women for Peace Movement explains in her Welcome Address,
“As the name implies, we hope that just as orchids in a room impart their exquisite fragrance to all who enter, we should strive to be the kind of friend who has a positive and uplifting effect on others. In the East, the orchid is a symbolic of a person of lofty character, thus, we hope that we will all be able to exude a beautiful orchid-like fragrance and make a difference to another fellow woman’s life through your friendship and time. As what Nichiren, the 13th century Buddhist monk shared, “Amongst the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, that of women attaining Buddhahood is foremost.”
A volunteer recruitment drive that ensued after the Symposium received enthusiastic support from the women attendees.
To ensure a wholesome event that empowers women with knowledge and the learning of skills sets, there was also a recruitment drive for weekday interest-based activities for women which includes ceramic classes, English class and joint exercise class, amongst others. SkillsFuture Advisors from the Northeast Community Development Council were also present to share with the women attendees on how they can maximise their SkillsFuture Credit and upgrade themselves.