Call for more Singapore roads, spaces to be named after women
The road to greater recognition for women can lie in naming more streets here after women, with a list of only about 40 so far, according to the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO).
But some 540 roads in the country are named after men, it noted.
Nearly half the roads named after women are linked to British royalty, such as Elizabeth Drive and Margaret Drive.
The remainder are mostly associated with female relatives of early local businessmen or colonial British administrators. Joan Road, for instance, is linked to the daughter of Sir Andrew Caldecott, Colonial Secretary of the Straits Settlements in the 1930s.
To plug this gap, a SCWO proposal published last Saturday called for more public spaces to be named after those who have made significant contributions.
On the same day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the closing session of the Conversations on Singapore Women's Development that a proposed garden at Dhoby Ghaut Green will be dedicated to women to honour and celebrate their pioneering spirit and contributions.
So far, only three roads commemorate women in recognition of their achievements in Singapore society, said the report. These include Jalan Hajijah in Siglap, which recognises Madam Hajijah Cemat, who owned the land in the area and built the original Kampung Siglap Mosque.
The other two are Elliot Road/ Walk in Siglap, which honours St Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital physician Patricia Ruth Elliot, and Blackmore Drive in Bukit Timah, named in recognition of the contributions of Methodist Girls' School founder Sophia Blackmore.
More roads and spaces named after women would be a visible and physically permanent way to celebrate their accomplishments and shift mindsets that "it was just men who built and shaped Singapore", the report said, citing the 167 individuals in the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame. The hall of fame was launched by the SCWO in 2014, with outstanding women inducted each year in March to mark International Women's Day.
For example, activists Chan Choy Siong, Che Zahara and Shirin Fozdar were crucial in campaigning for the Women's Charter in 1961, which advanced fundamental rights for women including equal status in a marriage.
The move to name public spaces would be fitting for the Ministry of Social and Family Development's commitment to celebrate the achievements of women this year, the report noted.