Singapore, October 18, 2022 – The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) partnered India’s Lady Doak College (LDC), Madurai, Tamil Nadu’s first women college, to launch a virtual Global Service-Learning programme called Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers (BBBB). The programme enabled youths from both cities to utilise filmmaking techniques to spread community awareness of good practices in gender equality.
The programme is supported by Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) under the National Youth Council (NYC).
Undertaken with LDC’s Centre for Women’s Studies and International Study Centre over the course of four months during the height of Covid-19 pandemic (August 25- December 10, 2021), the BBBB programme connected students of both institutions to co-produce two short documentary videos.
The videos explore the similarities and differences between successful contemporary cases of gender equality and justice in Madurai and Singapore, while highlighting the importance of contextualsation to local conditions for good practices in gender equality to be successful.
The programme facilitated a reciprocal partnership between the two institutions. Ms Cynthia Chang, Assistant Director and Head (Office of Service-Learning & Community Engagement), Centre for Experiential Learning at SUSS said: “As fellow members of the Service-Learning Asia Network, SUSS’ partnership with LDC has come a long way. Overcoming the physical distance imposed on us by the pandemic, our close relationship enabled students from both our institutions to explore a mode of collaboration to serve and learn together.”
Dr Beulah Rajkumar, Advisor, Centre for Women’s Studies in LDC, shared, “Coming from two countries with a wide disparity in size, economic development, and cultural backgrounds, the programme helped the students to learn about each other. As they explored their similarities and bridged differences, the challenges and opportunities surrounding Gender Equality emerged as significant topic for the students to explore and work cross-culturally. The programme helped our students develop relationships and understanding which will last a lifetime.”
Through the programme, participants were equipped to tackle gender equality issues and were taught specialised videography skills by SUSS and LDC team along with United Women Singapore (UWS). Harnessing the powerful medium of documentaries, the two videos created by the students sought to promote community awareness of gender issues.
#NotAlone | How Are Communities Addressing Sexual Harassment?
The first video entitled “#NotAlone” focuses on how sexual harassment is addressed by different communities. It was created by four SUSS students and four LDC students, mentored by both staff from LDC and SUSS. The film can be enjoyed here.
This documentary aims to raise awareness and help others better understand sexual harassment in both Singapore and India. It features stories from survivors and explores their views on the ways society can prevent and support victims.
Through documenting how schools are working to create a safer environment for students, the narrative hopes to promote good practices in hope that viewers will be better informed and equipped to support members of the community who have gone through similar experiences.
“By interviewing school representatives, we can understand how schools are working to create a safer environment for students. By promoting the good practices presently adopted, it is our hope that viewers will be better informed and more equipped to support members of the community who have gone through similar experiences. By breaking the silence on such a topic, we want survivors to know that they are not alone and not to be afraid to seek help,” Nur Hidayah Bte Sarifudin, participant of BBBB and a SUSS Year 2 Social Work student.
“I feel very honoured to be able to work with LDC and be part of this project. It has challenged and broaden my perspective and taught me many valuable lessons. Our teamhope that when victims of sexual harassment watch our film, they will know that they are not alone, and there are people to support them. I am really thankful that we were able to work together in creating social change for our communities.” said Isabelle Tan Yee Cheng, participant of BBBB and a SUSS Year 2 Marketing student.
“The gender issues workshops gave me a rare opportunity to get to know about SUSS students, their perspectives and cultures, especially how some forms of gender inequalitys persists in Singapore and India. I realise how sensitive and traumatic it can be for survivors to share their sexual harassment experiences. The collaboration with SUSS students gave our documentary a different perspective and I loved the workshop and the collaboration! with the SUSS students,” said Harini. K, a participant of BBBB from LDC.
This collaboration between SUSS and LDC paved the way to build more understanding about gender issues among youths, to create a safe space for diversity and inclusion. Dr Ann Nirmala Carr, Coordinator of LDC’s CWS, said the student teams working across borders on a common issue of sexual harassment have deftly called attention to the important issue of silent acceptance of the grave offence of sexual abuse. CWS addresses numerous harassments complaints and it is a tremendous learning to know how it is done at the SUSS. “After this programme, the team in LDC has worked to put in place safe sharing spaces. Amidst the barriers of not being together in a physical space, one big takeaway of this programme is the beautiful collaboration and forging of great relationships between LDC and SUSS.”
The documentary was written and directed by students from SUSS (Nicole Marlene Nonis, Nur Hidayah Sarifudin, Tan Yee Cheng Isabelle and Toh Hui Fang) and LDC (Aiswarya Jothi Bala. M, Harini. K and Mary Shilpa. J).
#EMPOWER | How Tertiary Institutions Empower Women
“#EMPOWER” showcases the various good practices that several tertiary institutions have implemented to empower women within their existing social settings and local context.
#EMPOWER was created by four SUSS students and four LDC students, mentored by both staff from LDC and SUSS. The documentary can be enjoyed here.
The documentary shows how schools strive to minimise and preventgender inequality by providing equal opportunities for both genders to succeed in a male-dominant industry such as Entrepreneurship, Sports, Public Safety and Security. Based in India and Singapore, the film showcases how school-based activities such as co-curricular activities and the planning of curriculum encourage inclusivity of both genders.
“We made a film about tertiary education's influence on women empowerment because during our discussions, we found Lady Doak College an oasis for students to develop their skills and personalities. It paved ways for students to overcome their inhibitions as women, boost their self-esteem and to know about themselves. It was my first experience working with overseas friends and I was stunned by their active participation, collaborative work and friendship. I’m glad to have made new friends and grow,” shared Logitha MA, a participant of BBBB from LDC.
Through the documentary, the team advocated for steps towards gender equality within tertiary education by sharing successful stories.
It was written and directed by students from SUSS (Benjamin Chong Wei Ming, Darren Lee Xiang Lin, Jasmine Goh Jia Qi and Yegammai Sethuraman) and LDC (B. Jaladhijaa, K.Sushma, M.A. Logitha and S. Shalmia Kysar).
The programme is supported by Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) under the National Youth Council (NYC).
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 The United Women Singapore (UWS) is a non-profit organisation that aims to advance and drive gender equality and women’s empowerment, and build a pipeline of women leaders and influencers in Singapore and the region.
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About the Singapore University of Social Sciences
SUSS is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education, and transforming society through applied social sciences. We develop work-ready graduates and work-adaptive alumni to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness to meet the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.
We offer over 70 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes, which are flexible, modular and inter-disciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. SUSS also offers a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills upgrading of Singapore’s workforce.
Our programmes and courses are offered by our five schools:
- S R Nathan School of Human Development
- School of Business
- School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
- School of Law
- School of Science and Technology
To date, over 42,000 graduates have experienced our unique brand of education, and each year, about 17,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.
The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), as part of SUSS, leads in the field of research on adult learning to build capabilities of the training and adult education sector in Singapore and beyond.
For more information on SUSS, please visit www.suss.edu.sg.
The SUSS Office of Service-Learning & Community Engagement empowers learners to further develop and act on their sense of social responsibility, grounded in real-world ideas and practices to contribute meaningfully to society. Through Community Engagement, students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully-organised service experiences that meet actual community needs and that are coordinated in collaboration with the university and community. We invite community partners to become co-educators to guide students in their journey of growth to contribute to society.
About the Lady Doak College
Lady Doak College is a premier education Institution with almost 5000 students and the first Women's College in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India. It was the brainchild of Ms. Katie Wilcox, an American with a vision and fervour for the empowerment of women. The College made its humble genesis in 1948, and by 1978, was commissioned to function as an autonomous college, being affiliated to the Madurai KamarajUniversity.
It is the first women’s college in Madurai District of Tamil Nadu State, and seeks to empower young women from all walks of life through higher education. It aims to enhance participation of women and oppressed communities in governance and economic development with requisite knowledge and skills and by harnessing the local resources. As an institution with a purpose to impart quality education to women students of all creeds, this college strives to develop their intellectual powers, locate, identify and cultivate their interests and talents and train them to be responsible and useful citizens. The Lady Doak College, with its 74 years of pioneering service in higher education for women strongly believes in transforming the lives of many young women drawn from diverse backgrounds. Since its inception the college caters to a significant number of first-generation learners from the families of socio-economically disadvantaged communities.
The college presently functions as a unit of Katie Wilcox Education Association and stands distinguished as one of the pioneering autonomous colleges in India.
With the strong and innovative teaching methods in experiential learning through proven augmented interactive models of learning, it seeks to create globally competent women leaders who dream, dare and do things to make this world a better place. The capabilities and competences of our young women students are strengthened with experiential learning, vocational skills training and gender just education that fosters critical inquiry. The experiential learning projects of Lady Doak College provoke young women students to recognize how gender discrimination manifests in inadequate health, low levels of education and insufficient economic power of women.
The College offers a total of twenty five undergraduate courses, fifteen postgraduate courses, along with postgraduate and undergraduate diploma & Certificate programs in the the disciplines of English, Tamil, Social Sciences, Economics, History, Physical Education, Commerce, Business Administration, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Information Techology and Fashion Designing.
The mission of the College to build women leaders with critical inquiry and a sustainable planet is promoted by the following Centres of learning:
- Centre for Human Resources Development
- Life Frontier Education Program
- International Study Centre
- Centre for Enrepreneurship Development and Institution Innovation Council, Lady Doak College
- Centre for Value Based Courses
- Centre for Women’s Studies supported by the University Grants Commission of India.
- Human Rights Education Unit
- Centre for Environmental Sciences
- Centre for Information Technology
- Centre for Communication & Multi media
- Counselling Unit
- Centre for Music
Till date over fifty thousand students have crossed the portals of Lady Doak College and currently 4761 students are studying in the College.
For more details on Lady Doak College, please visit https://www.ladydoakcollege.edu.in/