MCI Launches AfA to Tackle Online Harms, Especially those Targeted at Women & Girls
With Senior Minister of State Sim Ann and Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu Mahzam as Co-Chairs, the Alliance brings together members from across the 3P sectors, with a focus on developing support mechanisms and infrastructure for victims of online harms.
Following a series of conversations since February 2021 that engaged more than 300 stakeholders from diverse backgrounds1, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) today launched the “Singapore Together Alliance for Action to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls”2 (the AfA). These include technology facilitated gender-based harassment issues such as the non-consensual one-to-many publication of images and personal details online; unwelcomed one-to-one interactions online, ranging from sexual harassment to online grooming; and the existence of online platforms that encourage vice and harm.
The AfA will focus on closing the digital safety gap, and on taking action to enhance the freedom and safety of our women and girls in a digital future. A key recommendation that came up from the earlier conversations was the need to develop support mechanisms and infrastructure for victims of online harms. This would entail: (i) providing help to victims of online harms by providing tools, knowledge and assistance; (ii) creating a safer space online for all by providing support, advice, education, and (iii) helping shape norms around safe and responsible use of digital devices and online spaces.
The AfA is co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development Ms Sim Ann, and Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information Ms Rahayu Mahzam. Taking a whole-of-nation partnership approach, the AfA will start with 48 members across the people, public and private (3P) sectors, to address the issue of online harms in the following five key workstreams as suggested by participants of the earlier conversations:
i. Public Education Cluster – To look into developing educational resources, workshops
and campaigns for various target audiences.
ii. Research Cluster – To look into scoping and conducting studies, including
understanding emerging trends and develop localised scales to measure digital safety.
iii. Victim Support Cluster – To look into counselling, psychological and legal support.
iv. Youth Engagement Cluster – To look into campus advocacy initiatives and peer support networks.
v. Volunteerism Cluster – To identify areas where volunteers from the wider community
could play a role.
The AfA members are at Annex.
The AfA will also look into partnerships with various stakeholders to strengthen and drive the cause. For a start, MCI is supporting the private-public collaboration with DBS and Singapore Judiciary on a community hackathon to generate innovative solutions for safer and kinder online spaces3.
On the launch of the AfA, Ms Sim Ann said, “Over the past six months, the community, industry and government have had meaningful conversations on how we can close the digital safety gap for women and girls in Singapore. I am heartened not only by the enthusiasm of stakeholders but also by the quality of ideas they have put forth. We are now ready to embark on this AfA to take concerted action together, test out initiatives and develop impactful programmes. My hope is for this AfA to be the start of a movement that will grow from strength to strength in advancing the cause of women and promoting a safer internet for all.”
Emphasising the importance of partnerships, Ms Rahayu Mahzam said, “With the launch of this AfA, we hope to generate nation-wide interest and action towards the cause. More than just conversations, we need innovative and workable solutions, as well as boots on the ground to bring our conversations to fruition. The Hackathon is a good start and we are looking forward to more ground-up conversations and initiatives in the future.”
Interested members of the public who are passionate about co-creating initiatives to tackle online harms, and contributing to the AfA can indicate their interest at go.gov.sg/mciafa.
Annex - AfA Members
- Anbarasu Rajendran, CEO, Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA)
- Anita Low-Lim, Senior Director, TOUCH Community Services
- Carmen Low, Co-Founder, Afterglow; Member of 15th National Youth Council
- Chew Han Ei, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Principal Investigator, Centre for Trusted Internet and Community, National University of Singapore
- Claire Nazar, Director, Kalco Law LLC
- Clara Koh, Head of Public Policy, Singapore and ASEAN, Facebook
- Carol Loi, Founder and Principal Consultant, Village Consultancy
- Elmie Nekmat, Associate Professor, Department of Communications and New Media and Principal Investigator, Centre for Trusted Internet and Community, National University of Singapore
- Eirliani Abdul Rahman, Co-founder of YAKIN (Youth and Adult survivors and Kin in Need)
- Eunice Olsen, Founder, Eunice Olsen Media
- Fong Wei Li, Managing Director, Forward Legal LLC
- Ganesh R.Kalyanam, Director, Office of Student and Graduate Affairs, Republic Polytechnic
- Georgette Tan, President, United Women Singapore.
- Gia Lim, Undergraduate, Nanyang Technological University
- Harminder Singh, Deputy Head, Office of Student Life, Singapore University of Social Sciences
- Hazlina Abdul Halim, President, Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura
- Ho Suu Wei, APAC Director of Public Policy and Economic Graph, LinkedIn
- Irene Ang, Founder, Fly Entertainment
- Isaac Ong, Founder, Colours Global Pte Ltd
- Jamin Tan, Head, APAC Regional Product Policy, TikTok
- Jeff Cheong, President, Tribal Worldwide (Asia)
- Joel Lim, Managing Director, ZYRUP
- Junie Foo, President, Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and CEO, Methodist Welfare Services
- Lalitha Subramony, Vice-President (Well-being), Club2Care
- Lee Mong Li, Professor, Department of Computer Science, and Principal Investigator, Centre for Trusted Internet and Community, National University of Singapore
- Leonard Lim, Head of Public Policy and Government Relations, Zoom
- Lim How Khang, Assistant Professor of Law and Computer Science (Practice), Singapore Management University
- Lim Sun Sun, Professor and Head of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Singapore University of Technology and Design
- Lin Shumin, Director, Dispute Resolution, Drew and Napier LLC
- Lin Youyi, Presenter for Channel 8, Mediacorp
- Liyana Sinwan, Senior Associate, K&L Gates Straits Law LLC and Volunteer Lawyer with Defence Guild SG
- May Oo Lwin, Professor and Chairperson of Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information, Nanyang Technological University
- Nadia Hanim Abdul Rahman, Honorary council member of Islamic Scholars and Teachers Association of Singapore (PERGAS); Ustazah
- Nadia Yeo, Co-founder of the Young Women in Leadership Dialogue (YWILD) and former Assistant Chief Council, IMDA and PDPC
- Natalie Pang, Senior Lecturer, Department of Communications and New Media and Principal Investigator, Centre for Trusted Internet and Community, National University of Singapore
- Nisha Rai, Undergraduate, National University of Singapore and Founder of Closed Doors, Open Hearts
- Norshahril Saat, Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
- Rachel Teo, Government Affairs and Public Policy Lead, Singapore, Google
- Ridhwan Basor, Ustaz and Head, Community Resilience, MUIS
- Shailey Hingorani, Head of Advocacy and Research, AWARE
- Sharminee N Ramachandra, President, Club2Care
- Simran Kaur Toor, Partner, Wong Partnership
- Stefanie Yuen-Thio, Joint Managing Partner, TSMP Law Corporation
- Sujimy Mohamed, Managing Director, ScreenBox Pte Ltd
- Sunil Sudheesan, Director, Quahe, Woo & Palmer LLC
- Sylvia Chan, CEO and Co-Founder, Night Owl Cinematics
- Wang Shuyang, Digital Content Editor, NewsHub, Chinese Media Group, Singapore Press Holdings
- Yeo Lay, Assistant Director and Head, Office of Student Life, Singapore University of Social Sciences
1 Stakeholders engaged included those from corporate firms, technology companies, community organisations, the legal community, the academia, the media industry, parents and youths.
2 The AfA supports the Digital for Life movement and the wider inter-agency conversations on women’s development.
3 The Hackathon will formally kick-off later today (21 Jul) at 2pm, where Ms Rahayu Mahzam will be giving opening remarks.