The Youth Panel of the AMP 4 National Convention will be centring their discussion on these two main themes:
1) Mental health and economic issues affecting Muslim youths
2) Youth leadership and succession planning in Community and Muslim Organisations
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that Singapore is recovering from has exposed many glaring faults in our social fabric. The Muslim community has made many significant strides over the past two decades. However, aptly labelled the “inequality virus”, COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated existing fissures in our society, with many groups along the margins being disproportionately affected. While Singapore is gradually bouncing back from the pandemic, it is crucial to understand what some significant challenges faced by members of our Muslim community are. We have chosen to focus on the economic and mental health challenges faced by Muslim youths, as well as youth leadership and succession planning within Community and Muslim Organisations (CMOs).
Research conducted by the Youth Panel has uncovered the following:
Intergenerational poverty faced by youth due to family difficulties remains an impediment to the social mobility of youths as they transition into adulthood.
The majority of respondents cited a myriad of personal difficulties they faced within their families that posed a challenge to overcoming their circumstances and achieving social mobility.
Many of these respondents also had to forgo their education to support their families financially, often taking up informal employment or “gig” jobs which did not provide a fixed income.
Rigidity and Lack of Understanding from Social Assistance Providers
When approaching social service organisations for financial assistance due to their predicament, respondents faced rigidity and lack of understanding from social assistance providers.
Many respondents shared that they were provided assistance and advice about their predicament that was not only generic, but devoid of compassion and absent of an acknowledgement that they were doing their very best despite their personal circumstances.
Decline in Mental Health due to Lack of Stability
The lack of stability due to personal, familial and financial predicaments faced by respondents has contributed to a decline in their mental health.
This is a trope that was overwhelmingly acknowledged by all respondents, who were aware that the stresses and uncertainties they faced in various facets of their lives had taken a toll on their mental health.
While aware of avenues that they can approach to seek help for their mental health, many did not seem to have the desire to speak about their challenges to a professional, citing either discomfort to speak about their lives to a stranger or being unable to afford the fees from such services.
Lack of Leadership Opportunities for Younger Muslims and Women in CMOs
According to respondents, current perception shows the desire for more Muslim women to step up to Board of Director positions.
However, as perceived by respondents, there remains within many Community and Muslim organisations a resistance for the older generation of board members to provide opportunities for younger Muslim members, particularly women to be trained and integrated to board positions.
While there are Muslim women willing and eager to join Community and Muslim organisations as Board of Directors, respondents perceived that it remains an uphill task as these organisations tend to favour males and have a preference for people who are older and known to the organisation to take up these positions instead.