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Bicentennial Tours: 200 Years of Women - 6 June

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200 Years of Women's Lives in Singapore
Price $75 / ticket

Singapore’s multi-faceted history reaches back over 700 years. The arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles on behalf of the British East India Company (EIC) in 1819 marked a turning point that set the island on a new trajectory, and launched it onto the global stage. It is against this historical backdrop that we offer a look at the world of women in Singapore over the past two centuries.

The establishment of colonial Singapore in 1819 resulted in a steady influx of immigrants. Singapore society in those early years was male dominated, as it was men who came as traders and labourers. There were few women. 

Those women who lived on the island were mostly from the local Malay community or from wealthy European and Asian families. Otherwise, women living in Singapore were likely to be prostitutes and servants. 

While life for men in19th-century Singapore was one of extreme hardship and even abuse, the struggles women faced were even worse. The presence of women in Singapore grew after 1900 and especially after the 1930s when female migrants surged into Singapore, strongly encouraged by colonial authorities. 

Let us take you on a fascinating journey through 200 years of the evolving female experience in Singapore. From the passive role women found themselves relegated to when they first arrived in Singapore, through the rise of the “modern girl” in the 1900s and finally to the second half of the 20th-century when the women's rights movement transformed gender roles and expectations. 

Among our tour stops, we will visit Chijmes, the bastion of a progressive order of French nuns. We'll also spend time in the National Museum of Singapore to learn more about a special exhibition dedicated to modern life in Singapore in the 1920s and1930s as seen through the lens of the changing position of women. At the Singapore Council of Women Association we will find out more about brave women's rights “warriors.” On the tour we will also meet Karen Hoisington, the author of "Flower in the Fall," a story of the remarkable Elizabeth Choy, a war heroine, who with her husband, bravely supplied medicine, money and messages to POWs interned in Changi Prison during the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II.