The story of Che Zahara, one of Singapore’s kindest and strongest women

Che Zahara binte Noor Mohamed (1907–1962) was one of the pioneering champions of the rights of women and children, and founded Singapore’s first Muslim women’s welfare organisation, the Malay Women’s Welfare Association (MWWA), in 1947.

Under her leadership, Che Zahara represented Singapore at the World Congress of Mothers in Switzerland. She also worked with the Singapore Council of Women to help establish the Women’s Charter of Singapore, enacted by Parliament in 1961.

She spent her life looking after the poor and needy and improving their prospects. In an era where women’s rights in Singapore were severely lacking, Che Zahara organised stage plays to discourage marriages between teenage girls and older men. She was undoubtedly a fighter and protector of underprivileged women and children, regardless of their race and religion.

Recently, a White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development released on 28 Mar 2022, with recommendations on how we can work towards an inclusive and fairer society, where people partner each other as equals such that both genders can pursue their aspirations freely and to the fullest.

When we talk about an inclusive and fairer society, we cannot forget about women in the workforce. The National Trades’ Union Congress U Women and Family arm (WAF) is at the forefront of advocating for better working conditions for women.

Just recently, U WAF signed a series of memorandums of understanding with some 22 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to stamp out gender bias and harassment in the workplace. These SMEs will gain access to NTUC consultants and resources when they set up policies such as proper grievance handling procedures and disciplinary actions. NTUC will also avail training materials, webinars, and a sample human resource (HR) policy manual that SMEs can use to improve gender equality and anti-harassment policies and practices in their firms.

We owe it to pioneering activists and feminists such as Che Zahara Noor, who paved the way for women to have a better place in society. 👩👩