The Lives of Women, space

The Lives of Women in Singapore

10 May 2018 - 22 Jul 2018
The Concourse,
Level 1
10am - 7pm
Free Admission

The Lives of Women in Singapore

An exhibition by the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame 

What was life like for women in pre-independence Singapore?  What roles did women play in a society where, until well into the 20th century, there were far more males than females? Who were the women who first broke through the gender barriers in the professions? What brought about the new laws that were introduced soon after Independence and which significantly affected the lives of women?

These are some of the questions explored in an exhibition by the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame (SWHF) at the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) that opens on 11 May and will run till the end of July.

The Lives of Women: What life was like for women in pre-Independence Singapore is the first of a three-part series by the SWHF in collaboration with the National Museum. The second, in 2019, will look at the key issues affecting women in Singapore since Independence, and the final exhibition in 2020 will look at what lies ahead.

The aim of the Hall of Fame, which was launched in 2014 by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, is to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Singapore’s outstanding women and to document and share their stories, many of which are not well-known.

With the exhibitions, the aim is to provide the context for the achievements of the Hall of Famers, to show what it was like to be a woman in those times.

The Lives of Women series of exhibitions is the Hall of Fame’s second collaboration with the National Museum. The first, titled A Salute to the Pioneering Women of Singapore, was held in 2015 as part of Singapore’s SG50 celebrations. It ran for 11 weeks and was visited by some 60,000 people.

Two talks will be held in conjunction with this year's exhibition.

  1. She Works Hard for The Money
    Friday, 25 May 2018 | 7pm - 8.30pm | Seminar Room, Level 2
    Free Admission

    What was life like for the women who, in early to mid-20th century Singapore and Malaya, worked in tin-mining, rubber production, road and building construction, domestic services and domestic servitude, hawking and leisure?
    Sociologist Dr Lai Ah Eng, who has researched and written extensively on women, heritage and multiculturalism in Singapore, offers some fascination insights into the lives of these women who worked so hard for a living.   

  2. I am Woman, Hear me Roar
    Friday, 8 June 2018 | 7pm - 8.30pm | Seminar Room, Level 2
    Free Admission

    Learn about the half-forgotten and under-appreciated movement which struggled throughout the 1950s for women’s betterment. The Singapore Council of Women campaigned passionately for the laws that would come into effect after Independence and which significantly changed the lives of women.

    Educationist Dr Phyllis Chew highlights the remarkable achievements of the Singapore Council of Women in the context of modern-day Singapore. 
Join us! Please drop an email to with your full name, email and preferred talk: She Works Hard for The Money (25 May) / I am Woman, Hear me Roar (June 8). For more enquiries, please call 6837 0611.

Family Time

Visit our permanent galleries with your little ones and play spot-the-artefact! Our colourful Early Learning Resources introduce pre-schoolers to our artefacts according to the themes of Numbers, Colours, and ABCs. Available at $8 per set from the Museum Label shop. For more children's activity booklets, click here.

Museum guide

Download our museum guide (English, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Tamil) to find out about the many treasures in our various galleries. In this guide, you will also find the floor plan for easier navigation. Enjoy your visit!

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