Speech by Minister Josephine Teo at AISP's Ladies in Cyber Symposium
1. Thank you Sherin, for that nice introduction. I’m very happy to be here this afternoon, also sharing the stage together with Ms Tammie Tham, who has been the co-chair of AiSP’s Advisory Council and Ms Teo Yi Ling, who was supposed to have been here with us physically, but thanks to the wonders of technology, she’s not prevented from participating. Likewise, for all the other participants who have dialled in. I very much want to thank AiSP for making the effort to organize this symposium. I know that it hasn’t been easy for you, to bring together all the different resources in order to get this going, and that there have been many changes in our safe management measures.
2. And so, I think it is not a small achievement at all, for an organization that runs primarily, with the efforts of volunteers, to be able to get this up. So, how about a round of applause for all the organisers. This symposium comes at an interesting time. As Sherin says, these are exciting and exacting times. I think two particular sets of events, are relevant to our conversation today. The first, has of course, to do with the fact that we are women. And we are, of course, very interested in women’s development in Singapore. Many of you will know that last year was the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Charter. It was passed a while ago, the Women’s Charter - even before Singapore’s independence, two years after we achieved self-government - that some of us, perhaps, no longer carry in our minds what did the Women’s Charter do for us.
3. In fact, it did one thing, and as a result of that one thing, changed many other things established in law : that in a marriage, men and women are equal. Of course, today, we take it as a given. No one doubts that when it comes to contributions to a family, when it comes to the division of assets in case a marriage does not work out, a women does not deserve as much as men. But, back in the day, it was not a given. So, it was a very landmark legislation. It was a huge milestone. And I think it completely changed our society’s approach to thinking about women.
4. But that was also 60 years ago, and over the years, we have been very fortunate. Especially after independence, we invested particularly in making education widely available. That also changed things because families no longer had to choose between educating the sons, they could also educate their daughters. With education, we were able to participate actively in the workforce.
5. Over the many years, there were so many more women who have broken new ground and entered professions that could only be dreamed about in the past. But, of course, with each achievement, with each new milestone, I think we can only consider these as foundations upon which to aim for new highs. We’re never ever going to be done. It is a journey without an end. Because in each generation, there are also new challenges and we have to find ways to move forward on behalf of women. So that’s one set of considerations and I hope that it will be at the back of our minds as we have today’s conversation.
6. Very soon, the government will be publishing a White Paper that has pulled together all of the concerns and aspirations and the government’s response to these very important issues that have surfaced in a year long conversation that was held nationwide last year. We won’t have to wait very much longer in order to know what are the specific recommendations, so I won’t let the cat out of the bag. I think in the not too distant future you get to hear more about it.
7. The second set of considerations I think are particularly relevant to this group of participants today. And that is our intention to further raise the level of safeguards we have in our cybersecurity in Singapore. I cannot overemphasize how important this is and I think we will get a chance to talk about this further. But many of you know that we have a Cybersecurity Act that has been in place since 2018. Now the act is only three or four years old and as laws go, they’re not so frequently changed and updated. But because you are in cybersecurity, you know that the threat landscape changes very quickly. And what we might have put in place three years ago, based on what we understood to be the challenges then, may no longer be sufficient for us. So CSA has started consultations on what is necessary, in order for us to raise the safeguards that are available to businesses, to individuals operating in Singapore. And we can say more about this.
8. But I want to end off this set of remarks by relating the two - cybersecurity and women. The first, is that cybersecurity is too important not to draw on the strengths of women. The second, is that women have so many gifts that we cannot afford not to make good use of them for the purposes of strengthening our cybersecurity. So on that note, thank you once again for inviting me, I look forward to our conversation.