The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is working to form a new Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA), which supports the recently launched Digital for Life movement1 and the wider inter-agency conversations on women’s development. This AfA encourages Singaporeans to discuss, take action and co-create initiatives to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls. 

2 Kickstarting conversations on the formation of this AfA are engagement sessions, helmed by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Ms Sim Ann, which aim to shine a light on some of the darker corners of the online space especially for women and girls. Two such sessions were held on 22 February 2021 and 8 March 2021, engaging a total of more than 60 participants, both men and women, from diverse backgrounds – including representatives from corporate firms, tech companies, community organisations, legal professionals, academics, activists, parents, students from Institutes of Higher Learning and government agencies. 

3 The sessions broadly discussed (i) the non-consensual one-to-many publication of images and personal details online, and how these would create distress and incite harassment; (ii) unwelcomed one-to-one interactions online, ranging from sexual harassment to online grooming, which is exacerbated by the prevalent use of social media,; and (iii) the existence of online platforms, websites and the like that could encourage vice and harm to women, especially young girls. Possible solutions were also explored in the broad areas of public education, partnerships and regulation.  

4 On the impetus of starting these conversations, Ms Sim Ann said, “We launched the Digital for Life Movement to bring together resources and ingenuity to help everyone in our society go digital. As more embrace digitalisation and reap the benefits of doing so, the issue of online harms – as we live, work and play more online, cannot go unaddressed. It is a difficult topic, as we delve into issues including the online grooming of young girls and the image-based sexual abuse of women online. However, it is also a necessary topic. We welcome views and support, from both men and women, as we work towards a safer and more responsible Internet in Singapore.”

5 Feedback from these conversations will be incorporated into the AfA, with key updates to be progressively shared in the lead-up to its official launch later this year.  

1  Launched by President Halimah Yacob on 8 February 2021, the Digital for Life Movement will look to bring the whole of nation together in collective efforts to help all Singaporeans have the necessary digital tools, skills and habits to succeed in the future. It will build on the momentum of many community efforts seen during COVID-19, and mobilise more community partners and resources to help all Singaporeans embrace digital, and live enriched lives with digital. It will serve as a platform to bring together corporates, community organisations, government agencies as well as individuals to play a part, coordinating efforts, co-creating solutions and catalysing change.