Having lasted over a century and a half while growing from strength to strength each year, the YWCA of Singapore is here to stay and God willing, will be here for the next 150 years and beyond.
The future will be determined by the continuing challenges of a changing society but it is clear that YWCA will continue to focus on women and children as she was set up to focus back in 1875. How and what programmes will be developed over the coming years and the direction in the future will depend on the volunteers, specifically the Board of Management and the senior staff in all sectors of the Association.
We are proud of our rich heritage and welcome you to celebrate with us, the many milestones we have accomplished over the years.
The YWCA was founded by Sophia Cooke, an English missionary and takes pride in being the oldest women’s organisation in Singapore and a pioneer in serving the needs of women and girls today. In the wake of its inauguration, the organisation set up its first house in River Valley to provide safe housing for women working in the city and operated a hostel in Fort Canning to offer typing and first aid courses to women.Read More...
As Singapore became more cosmopolitan, YWCA started to cater to different needs by setting up various clubs, such as the Kamala Club to cater to the interests of Indian women, and Katong Club to provide fellowship and activities for women and girls respectively in the Katong area. To keep up with the industrial development, Singapore’s first recreational club was set up in Outram Road for girls working in industries.
The association also played an important role in the war recovery efforts after World War II and reopened its YWCA Fort Canning hostel.
YWCA pioneered the first preschool in Singapore to support children of squatters at Outram Road Centre, and more preschools were subsequently set up at Prinsep, Jurong and Marine Parade to cater to the baby boom in the 1970s.
As extensive industrial development started to take place in Singapore and especially in Jurong, YWCA also started to expand its reach there. By the end of the 1960s, the YWCA owned properties at Fort Canning, Outram Road and Raffles Quay.
Much of the 1980s was spent on the development for women and girls, senior citizens, fellowship and friendship, world mutual service, hostels, preschool education and child development. By 1989, 9 preschools were running at full capacity and the Association was operating 4 clubs; the International Women’s Club, Katong Club, Dancers Club and Blue Triangle Club.
YWCA’s focus in the early 1990s centred on child development and the enhancement of women’s welfare.
By 1992, YWCA had adopted the Christian Home for the Aged, and operated 2 centres, a hostel, 11 preschools, 2 women’s clubs and a youth group. In the late 1990s, YWCA redeveloped its hostel and named it as Fort Canning Lodge.
The early 2000s saw YWCA Fort Canning Lodge play venue host to many important events and esteemed guests such as the International Women’s Day dinner and Asean Confederation of Women’s Organisations’ 10th General Assembly and Conference, attended by Mr S. R. Nathan, the then President of Singapore and the then Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Goh Chok Tong respectively.
YWCA also moved her National Office to 254 Outram Road, where it remains today. YWCA made a critical step in the direction of inclusivity by launching the Integration Programme for Children with Special Needs (Mild), as well as an Educational Support Unit.
As YWCA celebrated her 130th anniversary, the second half of the 2000s was dedicated to serving the needs of the underprivileged and providing greater support to children with mild special needs. A Meals-On-Wheels for Children initiative was launched to provide nutritious dinners to children from low-income families in their schools from Mondays to Fridays and Kids’ Club (now evolved to Kids’ Weekday Care) was set up to empower underprivileged children.
“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
In addition to launching initiatives to alleviate needy families’ financial hardships such as the Sustenance for Families scheme, YWCA also equipped low-income mothers and youths with skills to remain relevant and employable through the Empowering Mums and Workz-On-Wheels programmes.
YWCA continues to operate by her motto “By Love Serve One Another” and prioritize the needs of our society. Neighbourhood Noms, a social enterprise collaboration between YWCA and Enactus NUS, was launched to empower low-income mothers by providing them with flexible employment opportunities through hosting cooking classes.
The association also rolled out some rebranding exercises in the last two years to better reflect its voice and services. Fort Canning Lodge was renovated and rebranded to YWCA Fort Canning in 2020, and YWCA Child Development Centre was rebranded to YWCA Preschool in 2021.