Publication Details

Lyons, LT, Believing in Equality: The Meanings Attached to ‘Feminism’ in Singapore, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, 1999, 5(1), 115-139. Copyright 1999 Asian Center for Women's Studies (ACWS), Ewha Womans University Press, Korea.


There have been a number of attempts in recent years to define the nature and character of ‘Asian feminism’. This article examines the way that Singaporean women who belong to the women’s organisation AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) understand the label ‘feminist’, both as a descriptor of their own political practice as well as that of the association. This study shows that for these women, claiming a feminist identity is fraught. Women in AWARE are caught between a public perception of feminism based on a western model, as well as the Singapore state’s own political usage of ‘western values’ in its debate over family values and moral order. Consequently, not all AWARE members choose to describe themselves as feminists. This paper explores the many meanings that Singaporean women attach to the term ‘feminist’ as well as the range of ways that they describe their own belief systems.