SUNDAY TIMES - Store's respect on back burner -- critic
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Sunday Times Business By Reuters, 2017-03-12 00:00:00.0

Store's respect on back burner -- critic


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A popular Singapore retailer came under fire this week for "trivialising" International Women's Day with a promotion offering cut-price frying pans.

Upscale department store chain TANGS marked the day, which falls on March 8 and is observed by many countries across the globe by women pushing for greater equality, by discounting a range of items, including two frying pans.

Other deals included beauty products, high heels and razors.

The retailer sent out a promotional e-mail to customers with the frying pan offers listed at the top, according to Marketing magazine.

Campaigner Jolene Tan said the promotion appeared to overlook the struggle of women in the city state, who are pushing for better representation in company boardrooms and battling laws that critics say allow marital rape.

"International Women's Day is a day to honour the struggles of women for equality, safety and respect," said Tan, head of advocacy and research at Singapore's Association of Women for Action and Research.

"Sadly, too many retailers present it as a consumerist event to be trivialised through sales and discounts rather than attention to the serious issue of gender equality."

An executive at the TANGS corporate communications department said she could not comment.

Singapore is ranked 55 out of 144 countries in the Global Gender Gap 2016, an annual report by the World Economic Forum that measures how women fare in areas such as economic and political participation, health and education.

Only 8% of board directors in Singapore are women, and they are paid 43% less than their male counterparts, according to Tan, citing previous research.

TANGS is most recognisable for its flagship store at the swanky shopping district of Orchard, in downtown Singapore. It also has outlets in neighbouring Malaysia.