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BPW Singapore’s inaugural Equal Pay Day event

Don’t Discount Our Pay– We Are Worth It

– Salary Negotiations, the Law and the Practice-

Singapore, 1 June, 2013About 55 attended a half-day dialogue session recently on 1 June to listen to several speakers discuss and debate on a very interesting topic with regard to the existing pay wage gap between men and women in many countries including Singapore.  

Titled “Don’t Discount Our Pay – We Are Worth It; -Salary Negotiations, the Law and the Practice”, the event which was organised by the Young BPW of the Federation of Business and Professional Women (Singapore) (BPW Singapore) and supported by Women’s Register, saw a fair mix of mainly entry and mid-level corporate executives, business owners, students and some gentlemen, who were keen to find out the reasons and contributing factors behind the income inequality between both genders and if so, what could be done to narrow them.

Participants waving the Equal Pay Day tote bags, 1 June 2013

Held on the premise of Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), this was BPW Singapore’s inaugural Equal Pay Day (EPD) event, which is one of the initiatives of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) and among the many EPD events which BPW clubs worldwide have been organising since 2011. In addition, BPW Singapore also followed in the footsteps of its sister clubs by organising its first ever Red Bag Day as part of its global campaign to raise awareness that the women’s accounts are in the red as a result of the economic discrimination women face. The colour red was chosen because it symbolises red numbers and a red bag represents the red numbers in women’s pockets. Mony collected from the sale of second-hand red bags donated by members of the Federation and Equal Pay Day buttons would go towards the Federation’s Education and Development Fund which is used to help finance or sponsor any individual or any meaningful projects.

Speakers included Dr. Bettina Schleicher, Head of the Equal Pay Day Task Force of BPW International and keynote speaker, Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun an international negotiations consultant.  Dr. Schleicher who was also the special guest of the event, shared with the audience her experience with starting the Equal Pay Day campaign in Germany and how she was later involved in spearheading the campaign across Europe and now around the world with her topic, “Equal Pay Day – a Global BPW Initiative”. Dr. Billings-Yun who also authored the book Beyond Dealmaking: Five Steps to Negotiating Profitable Relationships equipped the audience with some negotiation tips in her topic “Don’t’ Feed Bears – How to Become a Powerful Negotiator While Using a Soft Voice” and also conducted a role play session with a volunteer based on the skills that she shared in her presentation. Copies of her book, Beyond Dealmaking: Five Steps to Negotiating Profitable Relationships were also made available for sale, and Dr. Billings-Yun also obliged with requests for her autographs made on her books that were sold.

In addition, the audience also got to hear examples on the hiring practices and its realities closer to home from local human resources practitioners Yeo Suan Wei a Director of Profile Search and Selection Asia and Diana Chee an Organisational Coach of Clarion Leadership Asia. In both their speeches titled “How Women Really Negotiate – Real Life Examples from a Headhunter’s Perspective” and “The Pay in-e- Quality” respectively, Ms Yeo who has more than a decade of experience in the recruitment industry specialising in recruiting in the financial services sector under her belt, shared how women really negotiate in the marketplace. Ms Chee on the other hand gave an insight to the hiring and compensation practices from the angle of a very male-dominated industry, and MNCs and based on her experience, felt that women do tend to sell themselves short, resulting in being hired with a salary that is lower down the salary scale. Nevertheless, Ms Chee added that if women prove themselves in the job, it was very possible for them to catch up with their male colleagues quickly.

Mrs Laura Hwang, President of the SCWO also made a special appearance and gave a short inspiring speech. Both Dr Schleicher and Dr Billings-Yun specially flew in for the event.

About The Federation of Business and Professional Women (Singapore)

The Federation of Business and Professional Women (Singapore) was formed in 2001.  It is the co-ordinating body of BPW Clubs in Singapore and its members comprise the Singapore Business and Professional Women Association (SBPWA), SBPWA-Mandarin Chapter, and BPWA (Singapore) – Third Chapter.  The first SBPWA Club was formed in Singapore in 1972. For information about the Association, visit the Association’s website at www.fbpws.org.sg .

About The Young BPW

BPW members up to the age of 35 automatically belong to the Young BPW.

About Women’s Register

The Women’s Register (WR) is a platform for networking, education, mentorship, inspiration and the promotion of directorships for an extensive group of women of all ages. It is an initiative of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations. More information about Women’s Register at www.womensregister.org .

About Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day (EPD) symbolises the day until which women have to work longer to earn the same salary as men earned the year before. It is an international campaign of BPW International.  More information about EPD at http://equal-pay-day.com/  & http://www.bpw-international.org/equal-pay-day/what-is-epd

About the Pay Gap Situation in Singapore

The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Report on Wages in Singapore for 2011 reveals that the gender wage gap stood at 26.5% and that wage difference was considerably wider in blue-collar occupations. In The Global Gender Gap Report 2012 which was published by the World Economic Forum, Singapore ranked at number 55 out of the 135 countries that were covered in The Global Gender Gap Index 2012 rankings.

About Special Guest Dr. Bettina Schleicher

Dr. Bettina Schleicher is the co-founder of German law firm, Jung & Schleicher in Berlin and specialises and banking law and capital markets. President of BPW Berlin from 2000 to 2004 and president of BPW Germany from 2004 to 2008. Bettina launched the first Equal Pay Day in Germany in 2008 and convinced other organisations to follow. She has been head of the Equal Pay Day Taskforce of BPW International since 2009.

About Keynote Speaker Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun

Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun, author of Beyond Dealmaking: Five Steps to Negotiating Profitable Relationships, is an international consultant on negotiation and strategic influencing.Formerly lecturer at Harvard’s Kenney School of Government, Melanie has spent the last two decades assisting companies, individuals and women’s organisations to achieve their goals to through improved-relationship management.

About Panel Speaker Yeo Suan Wei

Yeo Suan Wei is currently a Director at Profile Search and Selection, an award-winning Asian focused executive search and selection firm. Suan Wei had spent over a decade recruiting in the financial service sector and has focused recently on governance (legal/compliance/risk/audit). She was voted Number 1 Legal and Compliance Headhunting Executive in Asia in 2013 by the annual Asianmoney poll.

About Panel Speaker Diana Chee

Diana is an Organisational Coach of Clarion Leadership Asia. She brings with her more than 15 years of management and professional human resources experience at regional and country levels. Her successful cross-country track records include the Oil & Gas, Chemicals, Logistics, Trading and Manufacturing industries as well as high-growth and sunset industries.

Singapore EPD

Invitation to IC+ Congress

BPW Spain, in cooperation with REM/BPW Costa del Sol and BPW Campo de Gibraltar, and with the support of BPW Europe and BPW International, is organizing the first BPW Spain IC+ congress (International Connecting Plus), in Marbella (Spain) on October 24 and 25.

flyer A5 ic+ ENG mailA 2-day event in which there will be four main panels dealing with economy, culture, leadership and branding. Women empowerment and gender profitability will also be topics of discussion in this mixed congress with business men and women that are expected to come from many different countries.

Each panel will feature a keynote speaker and a discussion panel, in which participants will be able to exchange opinions with the panel members and other participants. Networking workshops are also planned so that all participants make the most of this event by establishing business connections.

Sabine Schmelzer, Consulting and Regional Coordinator for Europe at BPW International, will participate in the closing ceremony. Click on the link to access the event dossier and preliminary program.

Registration is already open, with early-bird prices until July 31.

Live the connecting experience!

BPW Barbados aims to END Domestic Violence

Hello BPW Members & Friends, 

You are invited to support the following BPW & Rotaract South initiative “Race to End Domestic Violence”, part proceeds go toward the BPW Shelter & Crisis Centre Projects. Registration is just $20. Please encourage those in your network to support the race and wear a purple shirtorange shirt or purchase a Team Mikey Shirt to show your support of the cause. – M. Burnham, President, BPW Barbados.

End Domestic ViolenceThe Race to END Domestic Violence

In an effort to raise awareness and gain support from the Barbadian public in eliminating all forms of violence against women and children, The Rotaract Club of South Barbados in association with SLAM 101.1 FM radio host Alex Jordan and the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Barbados (BPW)  are collaborating to host a 5Km road race; “The Race to END Domestic Violence”, on Olympic Day, June 23rd at 6:00 am in Bridgetown.

Part proceeds will be donated to the BPW’s Shelter, which offers emergency temporary housing to women and children victims of domestic violence. The race is opened to the public and there will be an minimum donation registration fee of $20 for Adults and $10 for Children under 16. More details will be made available on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/RotaractClubOfSouthBarbados, websitewww.run246.com or feel free to contact us at rotaractsouthbarbados@gmail.com.

We are pleased to announce that UNiTE trained talented local Soca artists Terencia “TC” Coward-Thompson and Michael “Mikey” Mercer will be participating in this road run/walk with Alex Jordan.

The Rotaract Club of South Barbados, a community service club and youth arm of Rotary club of South Barbados; held its inaugural annual race for a charity just last year, “The Race for Challenor”, which raised over $15,000 for the Challenor Creative Arts and Training Centre. These funds aided in the purchase of augmentative and alternative communication devices, telecommunication devices for the hearing impaired and other devices and software to support the development of the students of the school. This year the club decided to partner with Alex Jordan and the BPW to acknowledge the recent frequent occurrences of domestic violence in our society.

Trafficking, VAW – Victim Compensation: Winning a Case

Presentation by Loretta Bondi
Be Free Social Cooperative – Italy
HRC 23 Event: Femicide–The Strategic Role of NGO’s in Making States Responsible for Implementation of Due Diligence Obligations  
Geneva, June 5, 2013
Dear Colleagues,
I wish to thank the organizers for inviting me to this important discussion. It’s literally vital that violence against women, one of the most pressing human rights challenges all over the world, figures prominently on the radar of human rights advocates everywhere and the international community as a whole.
I am speaking on behalf of Be Free, a Rome-based social cooperative and a member of the CEDAW platform.  Violence against women and the fight against human trafficking are at the core of Be Free’s mandate and actions. Among its activities, Be Free has developed a five-year experience in psycho-social and legal counseling through a help-desk at the migrant-related detention center of Ponte Galeria (Rome, Italy). Be Free also facilitates access to justice for the victims.  This background allowed Be Free to spearhead a case in 2010 involving Nigerian women who were trafficked to central Italy and two years later, win compensation for 17 of the victims in a criminal court. To the best of our knowledge, this is unprecedented in Italy. I will explain why in a moment.
For those of you who work to combat trafficking in human beings, the story of the victims at the center of Be Free’s case is tragically familiar. It’s a story of intimidation, confiscation of documents, financial exploitation, ill-treatment, torture, rape, forced prostitution, forced abortion, and conditions of slavery.  In our case, most of the women were trafficked from Benin City in southern Nigeria by a prostitution ring of Nigerian criminals with bases of operations in the village of Martinsicuro near the cities of Teramo and L’Aquila in central Italy.  Once in Italy, the women were made to work every day of the week with very little time for rest, were often denied adequate food as well as access to medical treatment. They were routinely assaulted if they failed to meet their exploiters’ expectations while their families in Nigeria were threatened by local operators of the racket.   The women were placed as virtual detainees in apartments owned by the ring, shuttled by trusted taxi drivers to their places of work, that is, to main roads outside populated centers, and submitted to a strict regime of surveillance and abuse by iron-fisted “mamans” and their accomplishes. It was a very profitable operation which went on for years.
A breach in this daily inferno occurred in 2007 when a Carabinieri patrol intercepted one of the women who showed clear marks of physical abuse.  This set in motion an investigation and finally a raid on the ring as well as, crucially, a series of protection measures for the trafficked women. A network of support was offered by “On the Road,” a non-governmental organization, and ultimately by Be Free.  Through their courage, and their determination, bolstered by NGO services, the victims were empowered to overcome their fears, fight back, and have their day in court.
When the case against the trafficking racket was heard before the Criminal Court of L’Aquila, all defendants were found guilty of conspiracy for the purpose of trafficking, slavery, and illegal immigration. Their assets were confiscated and the ring was dismantled.  Yet the victims and their rights, including their right to compensation, remained in the background.  Be Free and On the Road were not satisfied.  We had argued that any repressive measure against human trafficking would fail in its primary obligation of protection if the victims and their rights were not placed squarely at the center of State action and due compensation for their suffering granted.
On our side of the argument we had international law, including European Council Directive 2004/80/EC of 29 April 2004 relating to compensation to crime victims. This Directive sets up a system of cooperation to facilitate access to compensation to victims of crimes in cross-border situations. Article 12 states that: “All Member States shall ensure that their national rules provide for the existence of a scheme on compensation to victims of violent intentional crimes committed in their respective territories, which guarantees fair and appropriate compensation to victims.”  These principles were reaffirmed in European Union Directive 36/2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims which in article 17 specifically holds that: “Member States shall ensure that victims of trafficking in human beings have access to existing schemes of compensation”.
However, these directives had not been translated into Italian law. Further, the focus of criminal courts in Italy has traditionally been on the perpetrator rather than the victim. Thus, when the assets of a perpetrator are seized, this confiscation accrues to the State, not the victim.  The victim is left to find recourse and compensation through expensive and lengthy civil court procedures.
As Carla Quinto, Be Free’s lead-lawyer, would say: “When I meet obstacles, I also get good ideas.”  Carla found a legal ground to pursue an appeal on behalf of the Nigerian women and to seek compensation contextually with the judgment of the Appeal Court. That ground was offered by the dormant article 600, paragraph 7 of the Italian Penal Code which stipulates that goods can be seized by the State only if they are not needed by the victims.  Clearly, the victims supported by Be Free were in dire need of compensation for the physical, psychological and financial abuse they had suffered.
Be Free and On the Road made sure that this argument resonated when the case was appealed both by the two NGOs in a class action, and by the defendants. On April 25, 2012, the Court of Assize of L’Aquila (the appellate court) revoked the confiscation order delivered in the original trial. Instead, it granted each of the 17 victim 350,000 Euros in damages, with 50,000 Euros to be paid immediately. As participants in a class action, Be Free and On the Road received 10,000 Euros each.  Fourteen defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 5 to eighteen years.
Subsequently, the perpetrators have lodged an appeal with the Corte di Cassazione—the last port of call in the Italian judicial system.  This high Court rules only on procedural issues and errors, rather than the substance of the matter at hand. Thus, we are confident that the judgment of the Court of Assize of Aquila will be upheld in higher jurisdiction.
L’Aquila case set a very important precedent that can and must be replicated. But frankly, propitious circumstances also played their part.  To begin with, the victims were able to come forward and seek redress under a protective shield. This is not always the case since all too many endure abuse in total isolation and fear. Further, the racketeers had identifiable assets that could be seized, including real estate and the taxis that shuttled the victims to work.  Such conditions do not always obtain, as criminal rings are often also well versed in hiding their wealth.
In this process, we have learned many lessons, but two are of critical importance. First, in criminal proceedings involving victims of grave human rights violations, such as trafficking in human beings and gender-based violence, it is imperative to sensitize the courts to the needs and rights of victims, including their entitlement to immediate compensation. The neglect of courts to tackle such issues is regrettably systemic rather than occasional.  Let’s not forget that when victims are forced to pursue exclusively the track of civil courts to obtain compensation, not only are their entitlements deferred and their needs put on hold, but the expansion of the temporal horizon to obtain justice also exposes them to higher risks of re-victimization.
Second, States must heed international law and ensure that dedicated funds are created and devoted to compensation of victims of transnational crime. They are often the most vulnerable to abuse and the least likely to be protected.
Both these lessons are and will continue to be main points of advocacy for Be Free and our colleagues.  We will keep working to ensure that L’Aquila case will not stand in “splendid isolation.”

Post-2015 Development Agenda UN Report – Women

Link to Full 8-Page Report:
By Associated Press – May 30, 2013

UNITED NATIONS — A high-level U.N. panel recommended an ambitious roadmap Thursday to tackle the world’s major challenges, from climate change to equality for women, with a key goal of ending extreme poverty everywhere by 2030.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed the panel last year to recommend a new development agenda after the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, expire in 2015. World leaders agreed in 2000 on anti-poverty goals including cutting extreme poverty by half, halting the HIV/AIDS pandemic and increasing the number of people with access to clean water and sanitation.

The extreme poverty and clean water goals have been met, but many other of the goals probably won’t be achieved.

The 27-member U.N. panel expressed “deep respect” for the MDGs, saying: “The 13 years since the millennium have seen the fastest reduction in poverty in human history: there are half a billion fewer people living below an international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Child death rates have fallen by more than 30 percent, with about three million children’s lives saved each year compared to 2000. Deaths from malaria have fallen by one quarter.”

The panel proposed a major expansion of the MDGs — with a special focus on the more than one billion people still living on less than $1.25 a day — to tackle the causes of poverty such as weak government institutions, corruption, a lack of basic freedoms, conflict and hunger.

The panel’s report will kick-start two years of discussions and negotiations on what the development agenda after 2015 should be

The co-chairs, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and British Prime Minister David Cameron, called it a “bold and practical” proposal with 12 goals and 54 targets.

“Our vision and our responsibility are to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all,” the panel said.

The recommended goals include ensuring food security, sustainable energy and sustainable natural resources management; creating jobs and promoting economic growth and good governance; achieving gender equality and ensuring stable and peaceful societies. Targets include promoting free speech and the rule of law, ending child marriage, protecting property rights, encouraging entrepreneurship and ensuring that every child has at least a primary school education.

Mexico’s former foreign relations secretary Patricia Espinoza, a panel member, said the vision for 2030 won’t be achieved “if the world continues to do business like we have been doing for the last decades.”

U.S. panelist John Podesta, who served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and co-chaired President Barack Obama’s transition team, told a press conference that one of the MDGs’ failings was that it didn’t include proposals to promote the peace and security that world leaders talked about in 2000.

The panel rectifies this by recommending “building blocks” to peace and stability, but Podesta said “more than 40 percent of the extreme poor now live in conflict and conflict-affected states, so until we tackle that problem with real vigor, I think … it’s hard to finish the job.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. .