Men now have voting rights at AWARE

Men now have voting rights at AWARE

SINGAPORE - Men who are members of the Association of Women for Action and  Research (AWARE) have been granted limited voting rights.

The women's rights and gender equality advocacy group said in a statement today (Nov 28) that Associate Members who are men as well as non-binary people were given the right to vote in General Meetings at AWARE but subjected to a cap.

Their votes cannot count for more than 25 per cent of the votes on a resolution.

Previously, male Associate Members had no voting rights. Currently, men make up 7 per cent of AWARE's total membership.

In their statement, AWARE defined non-binary people as those who do not identify as men or women.

On Saturday (Nov 26), 71.8 per cent of the voting members present voted in favour of this change.

Over 60 members voted in an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held at the AWARE Centre on Saturday to amend and upated its Constitution.

Other amendments passed were the renaming and clarification of membership categories.

For the purpose of deciding membership rights, "women" include transgender women and "men" include transgender men.

Provisions were also made for non-binary people to join as Associate Members - they were previously unable to join because members had to specify if they were "male" or "female".

The amendments relating to membership were proposed following an extended period of consultation and research by a committee appointed by the Board in 2014, in response to queries from members at Annual General Meetings, said the statement.

The committee carried out focus group discussions, administered an online survey of members and conducted interviews by phone and email.

The findings were disseminated to all members and discussed at the April 2016 Annual General Meeting.

"AWARE's work is multifaceted," said Teh Hooi Ling, AWARE President. "We work to improve the lives of marginalised groups and the policies that affect them, as well as to improve policies and practices that affect everyone in society, regardless of gender."

"Our members have approved of our moves in recent years to engage with more men across all levels of our work. The new rules provide for men to stand up and be counted as key co-owners of the movement for gender equality. We also see this as a move toward building the capacity for men to better promote gender equality."

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