sophia cooke (google)

Sophia Cooke started the YWCA in Singapore, organising classes in English, sewing, cooking and Bible knowledge or young Chinese girls. A Literacy Programme was started, which led to Singapore’s first lending library.


Continuing with the mission to provide safe housing for young women, a house in River Valley Road was rented to operate as a hostel.

1914 hostel

YWCA purchased a plot of land at Fort Canning Road for $10,000 to set up a permanent base for the Association and to operate the hostel. Classes such as typing, shorthand and first aid courses were offered to women.

1923 raffles quay

The YWCA leased a site in Raffles Quay to operate a restaurant for working girls and women and a Travelers’ Aid Bureau and an Employment Bureau was set up to help young female immigrants settle in Singapore and seek employment.


YWCA organised talks on family planning and sex education.

1932 google

First cookbook was published to help the expatriate members to learn about local food and to cook the local dishes, as well as giving women in general a wide selection of recipes to cook for their families. The cookbook provided a wide range of recipes as well as information on food, nutrition and methods of cooking.

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The YWCA set up Singapore’s first club for girls working in factories and provided recreation for children and girls and a night school was set up to teach handicrafts, English, Mandarin and hygiene.

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During the Second World War, the Japanese and later the British, commandeered the buildings at Fort Canning and Raffles Quay which were returned to the YWCA in 1947 and 1948 respectively. Women volunteered in sewing projects to help with war relief during the Second World War.


The foundation stone for the Outram Road Centre was laid and the building was completed in 1959.


The YWCA started its first play school for children of the squatters who were living in close proximity of the Outram Road Centre.


With the merger of Singapore and Malaya, the YWCA became known as YWCA of Malaysia and later when Singapore broke away from Malaysia and became independent in 1965, YWCA became known as YWCA of Malaysia and Singapore.

1976 six storey hostel

A 6-storey building at Fort Canning Road was built for hostel accommodation and was completed in 1969.


Outram Road Children’s Centre, Jurong Children’s Centre, and Jurong Kindergarten were opened.

1970 opening of ywca house

At the Biennial Conference of the YWCAs of Malaysia and Singapore, the two Associations became two separate movements and Singapore became an independent association. The YWCA opened YWCA House to house over 600 foreign girls who came to Singapore to work in factories in Jurong with the industrial development in Jurong.  The girls were not only provided with safe shelter but their spiritual, physical and emotional needs were also looked after.


The YWCA rented seven units in a block in Jurong and set up a library.


The first YWCA Child Development Centre was set up at Block 80 Marine Parade on 1 March.


YWCA participated in discussions which led to the formation of an umbrella body for women’s organisations – Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), 

1983 world council in singapore

The YWCA of Singapore hosted the 25th World YWCA Council Meeting. This was the first time the Council Meeting was held in Asia after the Second World War.


Jurong East and Serangoon Child Development Centres were opened.


In the 1990s, more child development centres were opened in – Bukit Gombak (1990), Bishan (1992), Pasir Ris (1993). 

1994 groundbreaking

The hostel building at Fort Canning was demolished and the foundation stone for the new building was laid and Dr. Aline Wong graced the groundbreaking ceremony in the presence of Ms Tan Kee Leng (left) and Mrs Margaret Chew (right).


The Golden Y Circle was started to serve the needs of women above the age of 60. The women meet on Mondays for fellowship, bible study and activities.


The Outram Centre Extension was completed. The YWCA Adult Day Centre for senior citizens was opened.

1997 FCL

The new building at Fort Canning was completed and the operations of the Fort Canning Lodge commenced. The YWCA started the Meals-On-Wheels for Elderly programme for the aged poor in designated areas, delivering free, hot and nutritious lunches daily on weekdays to over 100 elderly.


In November, the YWCA started the Family Link Scheme together with The Haven, a residential home for abandoned, abused and neglected children. This Scheme aims to provide the family link to these disadvantaged children, bringing them joy and warmth.


The Educational Support Unit (ESU) was started, a non-profit department to provide educational intervention and occupational therapy to children with developmental and learning needs. In collaboration with Lien Foundation, the YWCA launched the “YES U CAN … BE INCLUDED!”, an early intervention programme that aims to provide mainstream pre-school education for children with mild special needs in a normal child care environment, with the purpose of integrating them into normal schools.


The YWCA launched the Meals-On-Wheels for Children on 31 July. This is the first of its kind programme in Singapore which provides free nutritious dinner, from Mondays to Fridays, to children from low-income families at their schools, social service centres or homes.


The YWCA Kids’ Club, a literacy and mentorship programme, was started on 31 March to provide a more holistic approach to help the children on the Meals-On-Wheels programme. The cookbook entitled “Sharing From Our Hearts” was published. 


A Family Support Scheme was started in June to help the mothers of the children on the Meals-On-Wheels programme to improve their knowledge and skills so that they can look forward to better employment prospects and hence an improvement in their financial situation.

The Group Befriending Scheme was started on 1 August for children on the Meals-On-Wheels programme. The Scheme provides an opportunity for the staff to recognise strengths and issues among the children in small group outings so that encouragement and counseling can be provided accordingly. A fully equipped multi-functional computer lab, complete with internet access, was set-up at the Outram Centre to conduct basic computer classes for elderly members and the public with funding support from the Lien Foundation. Computer literacy courses were also conducted for low-income families at a subsidised rate to equip them with computer skills which would be useful in their jobs or help them in their job search process.


CraftWorks is a social initiative launched to provide a source of livelihood for disadvantaged women who are unable to find work due to their role as main caregivers of their families. Handicraft skills are imparted to the women and materials provided to them so that they can fabricate marketable handicrafts for sale.

Connexion, a support group, was formed to provide programmes and services to enrich the lives of foreign women living and working in Singapore and to assist them to adjust and integrate into the community.

To celebrate her 135th anniversary, YWCA collaborated with the prestigious TWG Tea Company to offer an exquisite limited edition Earl Grey Tea blended by TWG Tea Company for sale. All proceeds from the sale of the tea will go towards the support of the YWCA’s community services and programmes.



For further integration of IT in pre-school centres, the YWCA collaborated with Lien Foundation for the implementation of Project IngoT Preschool.  

The building of a main learning laboratory at the YWCA Headquarters in Outram was completed in 2009 while the resource laboratories for each of the 11 pre-school centres commenced in early 2010.

The Hungry No More (Sustenance for Families) Programme was started in July. This programme distributes dry rations on a monthly basis to needy families living in designated areas and who are not eligible to receive any form of assistance from Senior Activity Centres and/or Family Service Centres.

A Bursary Scheme for children on the Hungry No More (Meals-On-Wheels for Children) programme who have performed well in their studies was launched in November.

The Care and Share Programme was launched for children enrolled in the YWCA’s Child Development Centres.


In April 2011, the Project IngoT Preschool with the Lien Foundation was officially launched at the YWCA Outram Centre. 


The TGIF Thank God I’m Female! Campaign was launched. It is a public education effort to raise public awareness of the prevalent issues faced by young women between 13 – 35 years old through information and resources.  As part of the TGIF campaign, a Chic Notebook containing educational facts and information relevant to young women was distributed.

The YWCA Safety Alert App was released for iOS and Android mobile phones. It is designed to enhance the safety of young women.

The Workz-on-Wheels programme was started. It aims to impart life skills to at-risk children and youth staying at various children’s and girls’ homes in Singapore while giving an opportunity for them to unleash their creative abilities.


The Youth Centre was opened at the Outram Road Centre. It serves as a “home away from home” for youths between the ages of 13 to 18 living within vicinity of Outram. 

The objective is for the centre to become a sanctuary for youths to hang out, relax, make new friends and acquire new skills.


The YWCA House, a hostel for girls aged between 18-25 years, was set up to provide safe housing for girls who have graduated from girls’ homes as they have reached the majority age but do not have a conducive home environment to return to.

occupational therapy room empowering mums

The YWCA of Singapore published the Recipe Journal to commemorate the 140th anniversary of YWCA service to the community.

Workz-on-Wheels programme was expanded to cover social-emotional issues like anger and relationship management.

Empowering Mums project organized for back to work women from lower income and to equip them with confidence, skills and opportunities to seek employment.

KWC (1)

YWCA Kids’ Club was replaced by Kids’ Weekday Care, a thrice-weekly afterschool care focusing on the overall development of children from low-income families.

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