This is to Highlight one of The Latest News and to suggest the link.
This is to Highlight one of The Latest News and to suggest the link.

Singapore Committee for UN Women News (2015)


TWG Tea for Gender Equality

Posted: 2015-10-01

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Statement by UN Women Executive Director on the migrant and refugee crisis

Posted: 2015-09-17

 

The world is struggling to calibrate its response to the vast numbers of refugees and migrants seeking a better and safer future. The scale of population movement and the horrors fuelling the surge are hard to take in and hard to process, on many different levels.

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On 10 September, children, women and men take shelter beneath a metal pavilion on a rainy day, near the town of Gevgelija, on the border with Greece. They are among the people who have fled their homes amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis. Photo: UNICEF/Georgiev

Yet we must not only find the right emotional response to the situation, we must find the right strategic and practical approaches too. Those approaches must ensure that the response is both sufficient and intelligently framed for the long-term. There is an immediate task of relief and there is a deeper task of confronting why the situation became so acutely intolerable and ensuring that discriminatory conditions are not replicated when refugees and migrants arrive at their destination.

The United Nations is calling for humanitarian assistance and protection for over 80 million women, men and children globally. 

At UN Women, while we are deeply concerned about the instability and lack of safety for all those who need to escape, we have a particular responsibility to safeguard women and girls against the dangers at home and that are widely perpetuated through their displacement. 

Women and girls have become explicit targets of aggression and subjugation by extremist groups, and of routine violence in countries in conflict. At home they risk being denied their educational, economic and social rights. Many have been subjected to brutal abuse, sexual exploitation and even enslavement. They flee to avoid this, only to run straight into smugglers or others who may exploit, traffic, injure or abandon them before they reach their destination.

The sheer scale of unsafe journeys means that the majority of perpetrators are not being held to account. For the Mediterranean alone, there were more than 430,000 crossings in 2015.

There is an urgent need for humanitarian action to address the specific needs of women and girls and to involve them as equal partners. This includes ensuring safe routes for refugees and migrants, in particular for women and children at risk of violence, and providing safe spaces and special protection for them when they arrive. We must make sure that we are able to provide them with opportunities for education and work, as well as protection against further violence. This is not the norm: in destination countries they can face compounded discrimination, deprivation and dislocation. Health services are absent or overstretched. It is estimated that 12 per cent of the women travelling in the Mediterranean crisis are pregnant; there are dramatic increases reported of women dying in childbirth. Reproductive health care for arriving migrants and refugees is essential.

UN Women is working directly on the ground in refugee camps as well as with partners in countries of origin, transit and destination, to shape policies that specifically take these known issues into account, and tackle them. For example, we are working to provide sources of income and psychosocial support, and are addressing violence against women in refugee and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, which are shouldering the largest number of Syrian refugees.

Women and adolescent girls have enormous capacity as a force for reconstruction. They are among the first responders in crises, holding their families and communities together. They must not be portrayed as helpless, nor forced to become so by restrictive environments. 

As world leaders meet at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month to adopt a transformative global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, a renewed commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international humanitarian law is essential. More than that, we want to see it lived out immediately and directly in the response to the current humanitarian situation. Women and girls must be at the heart of this agenda that will shape our future. They must be at the centre of our present concern and support.

We applaud the efforts of nations and institutions, of individuals and communities, who support the needs of migrants and refugees. But as we are facing this unprecedented crisis, we see that much more must be done.

Funding is needed, on a large scale and immediately to address the current crisis. Globally, the humanitarian appeal coordinated by the UN is at approximately USD 20 billion while its funding so far is less than 30 per cent of that figure. We also need to confront what this enormous relocation of populations means for us as a world.

This is a true test of the value placed on humanity in the new sustainable development agenda and it will shape our work for years to come. We must not fail in this. With attention to protecting women and girls from discrimination and violence and a focus on their resilience and potential to learn, to lead, to thrive, we can and must draw strength, exhibit tolerance and enable recovery.


Read: UN WOMEN’S PROGRAMME: SYRIA CRISIS REPONSE IN JORDAN

Read: UN WOMEN’S PROGRAMME: ZA’ATARI REFUGEE CAMP



In Focus: Women and the Sustainable Development Goals

Posted: 2015-09-01

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She walks for hours to fetch water and toils in drought-prone fields to feed her family…

She left her country with the promise of a good job only to find herself forced into sex work…

She picks up the pieces after a cyclone destroys her makeshift home and small business…

She is the provider, farmer, teacher, doctor, entrepreneur, minister, leader, mother— contributing every day to her household, society and the economy.  

Women and girls make up more than half the world’s population—and they are on the frontlines – often more deeply impacted than men and boys by  poverty, climate change, food insecurity, lack of healthcare, and global economic crises. Their contributions and leadership are central to finding a solution.

With the new global 2030 roadmap and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set to be approved by UN Member States on 25 September 2015, we take a look at how women are affected by each of the 17 proposed SDGs, as well as how women and girls can – and will – be key to achieving each of these goals.

 

 

Join the conversation

Join the conversation around the #GlobalGoals and #Planet5050 on social media.

 

Learn more

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

How will the post-2015 agenda – to be adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September – affect women and girls? Learn about UN Women’s position, the stand-alone goal on gender equality, and this 15-year roadmap. http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/post-2015

 

Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!

Almost 20 years ago, 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a visionary roadmap for women's rights and empowerment. Much has been achieved since, but much more needs to be done and can be done. A world in which gender equality is a reality: Picture it!



 

 



2015 Regional Beneficiaries

Posted: 2015-08-19

We have big news for 2015. While we are continuing to drive forward our local campaigns, in 2015 we have decided to shift our regional support to Cambodia, a country emerging from conflict. While the past decade has seen some progress achieved  by government, civil society and international agencies, it remains one of the poorest countries in Asia Pacific. The challenges to gender equality in Cambodia remain those related to poverty, including maternal mortality, illiteracy, violence, trafficking and unsafe migration.
  • Cambodia is one of the most populous countries in Southeast Asia, and also one of the poorest
  • One-third of Cambodians still live below the poverty line
  • Cambodia is still classified as one of the world’s Least Developed Countries
  • Women, who make up more than half the population, constitute the majority of the poor
As we embark on these new initiatives, we look to you again as our pillars of support and partners. As a self-funded organisation, the amount of support we can give to these life-changing projects is directly related to the amount of support that comes from you. You can show your support by:

 

Response to HIV-Outbreak in Roka Commune

"People from other villages are not welcoming us anymore," said a member of the family. "They discriminate against everyone from the village, including H.I.V negative people."

 

 

This project responds to an urgent humanitarian situation that made international headlines when 273 people in Roka, a poor rural area of Northwestern Cambodia, were found to have been infected by HIV. The outbreak originated from the use of contaminated needles by a private health clinician. Sixty percent of those infected are women and girls. Besides the public health consequences of this outbreak, villagers say people from other villages are not welcoming them anymore. Just USD 50 cents a day gives one woman or girl living with HIV access to clean water and nutrition as well as rights awareness programs, livelihood development, and education so they can live healthy and empowered lives. Just USD $5 a day provides healing to the entire community by equipping individuals living in the Roka commune with HIV-prevention education, facilitating improved livelihoods, and tackling discrimination in the broader society.


 

 

 

 

 

What we're doing
We are supporting a community-level response, strengthening solidarity and tackling stigma and discrimination in a manner sensitive to the distinct needs of women and girls by:
  • advising and counseling HIV-affected households on sexual and reproductive health issues including prevention, good nutrition, psychosocial wellbeing, and gender equal relationships within the family
  • ensuring infected women and girls are not abused, abandoned or neglected by family and caregivers
  • providing nutritional support to the elderly, under-5 children, and pregnant HIV-positive women all of whom are experiencing strong side effects of treatment due to poor nutrition, and 
  • building awareness of women living with HIV of their rights and encourgaing participation in decision-making at the local level
  • strengthening local economic resilience
  • humanitarian aid: clean water and nutrition.

 

 

 
Bamboo Producer Association
 
Proceeds from our 2011 and 2012 “Say No to the Oppression of Women” (SNOW) Galas helped fund the early stages of the Bamboo Project. In 2015 we are renewing our support and seeing the project through to its completion. Our support will assist the Kampong Chhnang Producer Association,a group of small-scale bamboo handicraft producers in a rural area of Kampong Chhnang province, in functioning as a stronger and more efficient social enterprise.Your support this year will bring them to operating their own sustainable enterprise. Just USD$1.55 a day gives a woman and her family a dignified and reliable livelihood.

 

What we're doing
Entrepreneurship is a path to the creation of jobs and incomes. Studies have shown that engaging women in business leads to fairer employment, improved corporate social responsibility, and greater investment back into communities. Potential multiplier effects are that the 70 families supported by the women producers will have greater economic resilience and an improved rural livelihood, avoiding the need to migrate for work which can entail family separation and vulnerability to exploitation.

In supporting the bamboo producers, we are thereby improving the livelihoods and economic empowerment of 70 women and their families by:
  • Cultivating financial management and leadership skills
  • Developing the internal structure of the social enterprise
  • Establishing connections with direct wholesalers 
  • Enhancing producers’ productivity and access to markets.
 

 

 


Celebrating 50 Women of Singapore

Posted: 2015-08-01

As Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence, join us as we celebrate 50 Amazing Women of Singapore! 

Also check out the SG50 Women on facebook here!


Amanda Cheong

  

Hi Amanda, tell us more about yourself!

I am an ordinary person with an extraordinary appetite for life. My interests vary from traveling to dancing and drumming.  Most of all, I value having meaningful conversations with old friends and new ones. I am a financial advisor with Great Eastern Life. 

My work allows me to help individuals, families and businesses plan towards achieving their financial goals. I am glad to be able to play a tangible role in the lives of the people I care about and contribute to society through my work as an advisor. It gives me great satisfaction to be in partnership with my clients and growing with them. I am blessed to have family and friends who are supportive of the work I do. I am where I am today because of them.

Currently, I lead a team of very talented and dynamic financial advisors who share my passion and beliefs towards the work that we do. They are constantly my inspiration and I am thankful to have them as my associates.

 What makes Singapore home? 

Without a doubt, my friends and family. This is where I grew up, and this is where I hope to grow old too, surrounded by the people that matter most.We, as a people, have achieved much in this short period of time. I am thankful for the hard work put in by our forefathers. That same blood of resilience runs in our veins. For that, I am proud to call myself Singaporean.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

At the risk of sounding like a workaholic, my favourite place is my office at Nankin Row, Pickering Street. Food wise, I love that within walking distance, you get to enjoy choices that range from hawker delights and quaint cafes, to posh restaurants and pubs for chilling and winding down. During the weekdays, you get a taste of the high energy city vibe. And on the weekends, it transforms into a laid back retreat.Best of all, I get to bump into friends and family here quite frequently. It is always nice to touch base with them in this manner; and for those whom I have not seen in awhile, to reconnect.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I have only experienced half of those 50 years. Even then, it is not difficult to see the transformation of Singapore, both in terms of her physical and material landscape, and also her people. As Singapore modernizes, many lament the demise of the kampong spirit. I, however, believe it is very much alive and evolving. This is evident from the many stories we hear about random acts of kindness towards one another, and how we rally together for common causes. I hope that as we continue to develop and grow, this kampong spirit will stay with us.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Those from the generation before mine would be familiar with the traditional roles of women usually being that of a homemaker, where they were mostly financially dependent on their husbands, and in old age, their children. As families tend towards becoming dual-income households, we see the role of women in Singapore evolve as well.While the modern day Singaporean women now have access to education, healthcare and protection from violence, we still see room for improvement when it comes to gender equality in Singapore.During the last decade, compared to their male counterparts, it has been more common for Singaporean women to attain tertiary education.

However, we find that women are still under-represented at senior management levels. Furthermore, Singapore women are still not equally paid as their male counterparts for the same job. While the main reasons for economic inactivity amongst males were poor health, education and taking a break, main reasons for females were housework, childcare and care-giving. As such, the modern day Singaporean woman faces the challenge of juggling between career and family expectations, where she tends to sacrifice the former for the latter. 

That said, there is much to be hopeful about as we see the Singapore man rise up to go beyond his traditional role as a provider of the family to be more involved in the other aspects of the household and share the burden and responsibilities with his spouse.

What is one advice you would want to share? 

I probably do not have enough life experiences under my belt yet to be give any advice. So let me share something that I have learnt so far instead: Seek help, not because you are weak, but you want to be stronger. Be fiercely unapologetic about your passion and what you believe in. Be courageous, sometimes all you need is just a little faith. The best way to repay kindness is to pay it forward. If it is not I, then who? If it is not now, then when? 


Josephine Ng

 

Hi, tell us more about yourself!

My name is Josephine Ng. I am the co-founder and director of A-changin Private Limited, a Singapore social enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities to women in need. We operate 2 premium clothing alterations boutiques in Orchard Road to generate revenue for our social mission.

Running this social enterprise fulfils both my business and social aspirations. In business, we are ranked as a leading alterations centre by many fashion magazines. We serve regional royalties, international celebrities, socialites, corporate leaders and individuals who appreciate fine sewing skills. In terms of social impact, we have trained and employed in excess of 100 women in our 5 years of operation.

Our social contribution was recognized by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally Speech (2012); and we were honoured to be the winner of the inaugural President’s Challenge Social Enterprise of the Year award.

What makes Singapore home? 

Singapore is home as it is where my past memories, present experiences and future aspirations are. Besides its economic success, I am extremely proud to call Singapore home because of its fair values. Our national pledge sums it all – “pledge ourselves as one united people…regardless of race, language or religion…based on justice and equality…to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation”. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has changed in many ways in the past 50 years. A common observation by many visitors has been the ever-changing skyline of our central business district. 50 years ago, we were a small dot in any world map without much significance. From an unknown island full of uncertainties, we are now amongst the world’s best in aviation, education, finance, healthcare, public housing, technology, and well respected for our safety, political stability, meritocracy and equality.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I have personally not experienced any gender inequality in Singapore. There was, however, a recent calling for more women to be represented in corporate boards. Though Singapore has many accolades to be proud of, the low number of women on our boards is sadly not one of them. But this situation has to and can be improved. I personally think that no company in Singapore will be foolish to not recognize the ability of a talent, female or otherwise. I’m sure gender balance will soon be realised.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Male or female, we are all equal, all a part of this planet. I hope the more fortunate will find ways to help the less fortunate to make Singapore a more inclusive home for everyone.


Nazeera Mohamed

 

Hi Nazeera, tell us more about yourself!

Long-distance walking enthusiast who wanders to find meaning in life. Currently relief teaching on some days, other days - frosting ice-cream or taking people on gallery tours. I write too. Sometimes prose, other times poetry. 

A few things that reveal more me than anything else: Teh-tarik or/and a bloody delicious slice of Secret Recipe’s ‘Chocolate Indulgence’, long walks, hearty conversations with strangers and souls alike, (sometimes) blunt honesty.

What makes Singapore home?

It is where I spent long hours walking, observing every face I come across, listening to the medley of intonations and accents of different voices, it is where I grew up in safety - away from conflict and attacking weaponry, also protected from major natural disasters - of which if occurred here, would probably have shaped me differently. Home is where I seek to find myself - then lose myself again and again. 

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

This is such a tough question. But I really, really like Little India for my quick, cheap, healthy Indian food fix when my soul gets too broken in mad, mad Singapore. The antics of the community there, the colours and culture hit home because of my heritage. Perhaps because it seems almost impossible to rekindle touch with my ancestor’s motherlands - that I delight in the experiences that resonate with me as innate cultural inclinations. Also, the amazing 24-hr Mustafa Centre is there! That building is a giant. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Having lived 23 years, I feel that Singapore is slowly beginning to embrace its philanthropic heritage that transcends what unseen barriers may exist between us. Our rich history tells of early philanthropists who have contributed to educational and religious frameworks here. I’ve observed how the use of social media, despite the threat it bears to incite all things unproductive and negative, has also allowed for Singapore to move towards a more active, “helping” culture. One time there was a collection period of winter items for the Syrian refugees and I was told that Singaporeans would head to Ikea and buy the entire shelf of blankets. The items were to be shipped to these refugees - and it was beautiful to have seen the outcome of the collection period. From bags, to boxes, to an entire cargo container. There has also been greater awareness towards the foreign construction workers that help make our buildings. The short, heartfelt stories people share often reach out most effectively in making us realise things that go unnoticed in the chase for our place in this country. 

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Quite recently, I attended an event where a lady had come up to the mic to raise her concerns about being the only woman in a male-dominated sector. She asked for advice and I didn’t quite appreciate it because I wasn’t exactly sure what she was trying to imply - that it was going to be a challenge working with so many men, or if she felt she wasn’t good enough. A speaker from the panel congratulated her and it made me feel even more uncomfortable - because I wasn’t sure if it was for her having made it through past the men, or because she has pushed herself to perform so excellently. As much as the reality of gender inequality may exist - it is so important that we do not allow our own perceptions and biases to then justify the existence of it where it doesn’t exist. As a woman, I acknowledge that men and women have been fashioned differently. This means a specific set of skills or inclinations that may be effective for some jobs, and otherwise for others. There could be exceptions. But despite so I think we all deserve equal opportunities although we don't share equal responsibilities. With the aid of growing awareness through various means, I think we’ve had it better than most countries. I am not saying there is no room for improvement. But sometimes gratitude allows us to shift our focus and invest in areas that are more pressing.

What is one advice you would want to share?

To be present. It’s difficult when we’re trying so hard for so many things here - what more with the entire world before the screens we have in front of our eyes. As much as this too is my own struggle, being present feeds the larger part of my soul. I could be so absorbed scrolling through my phone, or I could look up to observe the many attitudes and faces around me in the bus. Perhaps maybe then I could strike up a conversation with the aunty who just sat next to me and brought with her this wafting scent of ‘pandan’ leaves from the ‘putu piring’ she just bought. We could end up making each other’s day. I could be walking while thinking about how stressful this week has been, and not notice how the flowers on the plant I’ve been walking past have bloomed today. Perhaps when I leave work behind and walk with presence that I’ll notice how even my own country is that beautiful. I could be so unhappy at how my efforts haven’t made things much easier for me here that I’ve not forgotten the art of making myself happy. Perhaps when I look to the family on the next table sharing a simple meal at the hawker centre, oblivious to the crowd as they honour their little children’ antics - that I remember to be grateful, that when I get a slice of chocolate cake to cheer myself up - it is delicious like never before. 

Presence.


 Zann Tan

 

Hi Zann, tell us more about yourself!

I'm Zann and I work as a risk consultant for financial services. Outside of work, I enjoy painting and sketching, which I picked up about a year ago. I've recently made my first trip to an Urban Sketchers Singapore event at the Botanic Gardens and I hope to meet like-minded enthusiasts through sketching! 

What makes Singapore home?

That's a deceptively simple question. When I was growing up, I lived in Australia and France; so there wasn't really a notion of where "home" was. In fact, I had a culture shock upon returning to Singapore and attending my first day of school at Dunman High! In recent years though, I've come to realise that home is where my family and friends are.

Attending the national day parade this year was especially moving; when everyone stood up at the Float to sing "Home" with Kit Chan, it was truly an emotive moment.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

Hmm I've never thought of any place as a favourite! It can be quite fun to explore Singapore with renewed interest actually. In a way, sketching about in Singapore allows me to do that and I'm thankful for that. If I had to choose a place, it'll definitely be the East!

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

In the past 50 years, I think Singapore has grown modern, more cosmopolitan. What we've achieved as a small nation has been astronomical in such a short span of time. That said, I wish to see us develop as well culturally, as we did economically. I don't speak from a position of authority, but on a positive note, I feel the arts and culture scene picking up somewhat.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

You know that stereotype having women stay at home and tend to household chores? I think we've come a long way from that. That said, there seems to be a glass ceiling for women in many industries, where most c-executives are men. Could that be due to gender inequality? Perhaps. There is still a prevalent school of thought that men should have better earning power. I hope that gradually changes.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Pursue your passions. That doesn't necessarily mean abandoning all else, but it does mean taking those steps forward, however small they may seem to be initially.


 

Natasha Satar

    

Hi Natasha, tell us more about yourself!

By profession, I'm a youth worker. I work specifically with teenage girls in helping them raise their self-esteem because we all know what a personal battle teenagehood can be. When I knock off work, I’m the wife to a husband who’s amazing beyond words.

I’m this girl who’s freaking optimistic (but practical), dreams a lot, loves a lot, who’s always looking for opportunities to improve the things around me, and has weird humour.

What makes Singapore home?

a)    The rush – Let’s not talk about just morning rush, Singaporeans seem to always be in a rush! Whether on foot or on the expressway!

b)    Our amazing public transportation – Yes, there’s been lapses but whoever said it was easy to provide smooth traffic for 6 million people daily? 

c)    The excitement in the darkest pit of our stomach when we smell hawker food

d)    The number of secret historical places we possess despite being such a tiny island

e)    The diversity of our people, hands down 

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

I have to say, the Bishan neighbourhood. Simply because, it was where I grew up and where the dream-making began. Imagine our excitement everytime we saw familiar looking flats in the opening credits of “Under One Roof” (a local television drama).

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Far too much, sadly. When memories are made in landmarks, and they’re taken away, it feels like a part of you went with it (e.g. sandy playgrounds, the old National Library). But of course with progress, comes change. In a tiny country like Singapore, there’s little place for things to stay. What I love about it however, is how diverse Singapore has become. But despite all that, my pride for Singapore has never fallen short. 

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Times are changing. Women are no longer the followers and taking up only stereotypically female jobs. We have teenage girls who dream of being pilots, soldiers, engineers, and IT experts. We’re not just taking over boys’ jobs. We’re showing them how it’s done! 

What is one advice you would want to share?

I’d like to share a mantra that I’ve held on to since my teenage years, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. It's a reminder to always make the best out of every situation. And I think that’s very important for all of us because at anytime, life will throw a surprise at us. We may be down and out, flustered and confused, but take a moment to collect ourselves, accept the reality of the situation and think of what steps to take next. We know we can’t change what we’re given, but we can change how we deal with it.


Chan Bibe

Photo credits: Adam Maniam

   Hi Chan Bibe, tell us more about yourself!

My name is Chan Bibe binte Syed Mohamed Shah. I got married at the age of 15 years old, my husband passed away when I was 28 years old. This was six months after the Japanese occupation fell in Singapore. It was a period of mixed feelings for me. I looked after a big family, and earned a small income from helping to take care of the sickly and elderly in the neighborhood (Serangoon Gardens area). My father was Pakistani and my mum was a Chinese lady adopted by a Malay family. There were many people living in their Serangoon Gardens house, not just me, but 7 other siblings, their kids and (eventually) grandchildren too. I am the second eldest in the family. Now, I am a mother to 1, grandmother to 6, a great grandmother to 14 and great great grandmother to 7!

What makes Singapore home?


 

I am happy here, I really like Singapore. Singapore has given me so much. Food, a place to live, my family is here, her oneng oneng (great great grandchildren) are here. When I was younger, there was no means of traveling, we barely even left the house, so Singapore was the only home I ever knew because I couldn't go anywhere else. But now when I think about it, there wouldn't be reason to leave anyway because the country has given me so much.


Where is your favourite place in Singapore?


My favorite place is Bedok, because all my loved ones are around this area. My immediate and distant relatives all live in the area, and it helps me keep in touch with everyone. It is important to have family and loved ones close by, and even in Singapore where it's so easy to get around, it's just nice to know that every one is close at hand.



How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?


 

Singapore has changed a lot. Everything has changed for the better, things are more beautiful now, buildings are bigger, In the past, Singapore was very dirty, not developed, now it's a clean city. People are all so in touch with computers and all these gadgets. We have advanced a lot. 



How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?




In the past, the boys had more opportunities to study/work. It was largely reinforced by the older generations, they felt it was the boy's responsibility to look after the family and find work. This was self-reinforcing. Now it's very different, women and men have the same opportunities. Singapore is a safe place for women, not just in terms of safety on the streets, but also in the ability to meet and fulfill their aspirations. This is a very good thing, we all need to be given opportunities to build a good life for ourselves. I hope for more countries around the world to be like this – I listen to the radio, and hear about some of the terrible things going on in other countries to women, children and innocent people, and wish that more places could be like Singapore. 



What is one advice you would want to share? 

 

Pursue whatever opportunities come their way, and to lead meaningful lives. 


Jying Tan

 

Hi Jying, tell us more about yourself!

I am a young artist and art educator based in Singapore. I believe that Art has the power to influence for a better cause and when that's achieved, my life is meaningful. I believe this is how I can contribute to the environment that I live in.  
 
What makes Singapore home?
What makes Singapore home are my love ones and the sense of familiarity of places. Despite wherever I go and how long I have been away from Singapore, it is always the place that I want to go back to till the end of my life. 

 Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

My favorite place in Singapore would have to be the interior of the buses where many activities are going on. Within such a small enclosed space, I am able to see many different characters that are "localized" and amusing happenings which add colour to my mundane life.  

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?
I feel that Singapore has progressed too fast and it feels rather surreal to me. Perhaps that's the reason why we are in the mood of being nostalgic. 
 
How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?
Comparing to the older generation, the younger generation of women has been fortunate to be given an equal opportunity at school and work. However, in order to achieve true gender equality, we first have to stop our stereotypes of what the role of a woman should be in the society and at home.
 
What is one advice you would want to share? 
Take a moment to look and feel the world that you are in. Life is not about pursuing, it is about living. 

 Pamela Ho

   

Hi Pamela, tell us more about yourself!

I’m a writer and journalist, a mother of twin boys, and currently editor of an arts magazine in Singapore. Writing is my passion and calling, and world travel is a big part of my make-up. In 2011, I took a year off to travel around the world and write a book. I’m also a former teacher, counselling psychologist, producer with TV news and producer-presenter with radio, co-hosting a daily talk show. I see my calling as giving voice to people and issues. Away from work, I’m a voracious reader, a deep-end learner, a coffee addict and a lover of spontaneity.

What makes Singapore home?

The fact that so much of who I am is linked to Singapore, makes this home for me. Also the people whom I love the most – my family and closest friends – call this place home, so it makes it impossible for me to place my heart and my loyalty elsewhere. It’s the only place in the world where I step out of the airport, and there is always family waiting for me.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

My home and neighbourhood. As a homebody, I feel happiest when I’m reading on my hammock, sharing sofa time with my boys, chatting with my neighbours and playing with their dogs. I know where’s the best place to eat in this neighbourhood, where to buy what I need, where to jog, I know the cleaners and they shout “hello, sister!” to me in the void deck. And while I love Katong where I grew up, indie bookstores and the beach, coffee places where I work, I think this is still my favourite place. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has changed in very rapid and dramatic ways from the time I was a child – pretty much from Third World to First World. Today, we are cosmopolitan, educated and respected on the world stage for so many reasons. Back then, people left Singapore for “greener pastures” overseas, now foreigners see us as the “greener pastures” for them. While I see the people of Singapore feeling more entitled to things and less tolerant, I also see more open-mindedness and a celebration of diversity from others; a sense of civic mindedness and awareness of world issues, and a willingness to reach out and help. Young people these days also have opportunities to pursue what they love as careers, less so in the past.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Compared to many other countries located just hours from Singapore, and compared to Singapore not too long ago, I think the opportunities and rights of women have come a long way – thanks to the work of women’s organisations. There are more women taking on conventionally male roles, more women in business and politics, more rights for single mothers etc. We still have some way to go, like how society perceives women who choose not to have children, and ironically, those who choose to give up their careers to take care of their children! But generally, I think we’re moving in the right direction.

What is one advice you would want to share 

On my own journey, what has mattered is remembering that it’s not always about me. When times get tough, focus out instead of in, give love instead of demand it; surprisingly, the end-feeling of happiness is the same. Don’t be so hard on yourself, have compassion for yourself and others, and don’t be too quick to judge. Things never make sense looking forward, they only do on hindsight, so always be true to yourself, trust that small still voice, and follow it. And whoever you are, your experiences and gifts have the power to fill gaps and make a difference. 


 

Afra Alatas

 

Hi, tell us more about yourself!

I am Afra, a second-year undergraduate student at the National University of Singapore. I'm studying History, a subject which I find extremely fascinating, yet one that I have a love-hate relationship with. But that could be considered as a passion. I love how History tells us how almost everything in this world came to be. Apart from studying, I spend my time at interfaith events, whether they are dialogue sessions, conferences and so on. While I enjoy interaction with people of various faiths, I also believe that true interfaith understanding and appreciation is crucial in our diverse, multicultural society where misconceptions inevitably arise. I also like to volunteer and engage in community service whenever an opportunity is given to me, and at the end of the day, I love seeing the smiles on the faces of people around me. Besides that, I use as much of my free time as possible to catch up on reading novels.

What makes Singapore home?

Being born and raised here, I think there are many things that make Singapore home. For one, definitely my family and friends, who I spend every day of my life with.  As much as I enjoy my holidays abroad, coming home to the diversity of faces always feels good. Safety is another thing that I feel makes Singapore home. Not just safety in terms of crime but safety in terms of public transport, the environment and so on. If not for the safety we have here, I wouldn't be able to get around Singapore as comfortably as I always do, and this isn't something I'm brave enough to do in other countries that I frequently visit. 

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

Honestly, I don't have a favourite place in Singapore, but anywhere I can see the sunset in the evening or the moon at night is just as good. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I guess the one obvious thing that has changed in Singapore over the past 50 years is our environment; both natural and physical. All the greenery we've had is lovely. As one studying History, it's upsetting to see that a lot of older buildings in Singapore have been renovated or demolished. When that happens, they become forgotten and their History sometimes goes along with them too. But I'm still grateful for the buildings and sites of Heritage and History that are still around and I feel a sense of awe whenever I visit one.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Gender equality in Singapore isn't as great as we'd like it to be, but I do think that it has improved. At least in the past ten years or so, the rate of economic participation of women has been increasing and the gap with respect to men's economic participation is becoming smaller, although it is still significant. With more women wanting to further their education and join the workforce, hopefully the gap will continue to get smaller. Women here probably have it better than women in other countries. But of course societal inequality still exists such as with regard to being a single mother, or wanting to work in the first place. While gender equality has improved in Singapore, there's definitely still place for improvement and women should feel empowered to stand up for it.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Always think about the good in your life. It makes all the difference.


Jordyn Arndt

 

Hi Jordyn! Tell us more bout yourself.

I am the Director of Research at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. As a member of the Government and Public Affairs team, I oversee the analysis and editing of key publications, develop policy position papers, and liaise with regional government officials. Passionate about international development, I volunteer for the local chapters of Room to Read and UN Women. I have over 8 years of experience working, learning, and traveling in Asia and Africa. Whether interviewing children in vulnerable communities in Cambodia or surveying business leaders in Singapore, I strive to better understand the challenges and opportunities of globalization. Outside of work and volunteering, I enjoy staying abreast of international news and politics, watching foreign films, traveling, and hiking.

What makes Singapore home?

I’ve been living in Singapore for the past two years. I appreciate the diversity of cultures, foods, and languages in Singapore. While I avidly explore popular local attractions from Gardens by the Bay to hawker centres, I also enjoying visiting neighbouring countries. There are many opportunities to learn and experience Singapore’s various cultures and connect with people from all over the world. I recently started dragon boating, which is a unique way to engage in a regional sport, meet new people, and experience the bay area from a different perspective.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

It is hard to identify one place in Singapore as my favourite. Some of my favourite places include the national parks, The Projector, an independent cinema, the historical neighbourhoods of Chinatown, Kampong Glam, and Little India, particularly during local holidays.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has undergone tremendous social and economic development over the past 50 years. Although I moved to Singapore fairly recently, I have tried to learn more about this by visiting local museums and lectures on related topics. One area of change that I find particularly interesting is the nation’s strategic plan to embrace technology and innovation to become a Smart Nation.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Singapore has made progress towards achieving gender equality over the past 50 years. Looking ahead, one opportunity for growth would be increasing the representation of women on boards, as this figure continues to lag behind other countries globally. According to a recent report by Deloitte Global, women in Singapore occupy 9% of board seats while their counterparts worldwide occupy 12%.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Singapore has a lot to offer if you scratch beneath the surface and the regional travel opportunities are boundless.


Prethika Nair

 

Hi Prethika! Tell us more bout yourself.

I’m a Masters student at the University of Edinburgh, studying International Relations, with a focus on international development. My personal area of interest is the provision of educational infrastructure to girls in rural and poverty-stricken areas in developing countries, which is also something I’d like to work on in future.

What makes Singapore home?

Family. Not just the people I’m related to, but also the many amazing people I’ve met here and the friends I have made over the years whom I now consider family as well. Singapore provides many opportunities for us to meet various people from all walks of life, from various backgrounds.

Things are convenient and simple here and especially as a woman, it’s a blessing to not have to worry much about issues such as safety, or equal access to education or work opportunities.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

How much Singapore has progressed since the 1960s is part of the daily rhetoric here and there is a strong sense of pride in how Singapore has managed to achieve such an impressive global standing in terms of finance and education, in such a short period of time. We are lucky to be living in a time where we are reaping the rewards of the hard work of previous generations.

That being said, when it comes to progress as a society, our elders seem to frequently lament the loss of ‘kampong spirit’, whereby there was a greater integration of race and culture when people lived in small close-knit neighbourhoods. Singapore also still has some ways to go in terms of the arts and openness to public discourse.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

For the most part women have equal access to education and career opportunities here and this already puts us at an advantage when compared to many other countries.

However, there is still a gap, especially in certain industries, due to the stigma that a woman cannot be as productive or committed to certain roles because she also has to perform the role of a mother. We still see frequent instances of wage inequality here because of this. There is also much to be said about the rights of single mothers in Singapore. However, we are seeing an increasing number of women becoming successful leaders and entrepreneurs in various industries so hopefully this mindset changes with time.

What is one advice you would want to share?

A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.If you’re grateful for what you have, try to pay it forward by taking a little time to help those with less access to the opportunities that we have had.


Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha

  

Hi Nurul! Tell us more bout yourself.

Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha (Nurul) is challenged with spinal muscular atrophy, which is a neuro-muscular condition that weakens and deteriorates her muscles. She has never been able to walk and uses a motorised wheelchair to move about. Despite knowing that there is currently no cure for her condition, Nurul is neither deterred nor has she given up in life. The Bachelor of Accountancy graduate from Singapore Management University has been able to lead an independent and fulfilling life engaging in normal activities of studying, working, playing sports and community work.

Nurul is currently on a sabbatical from her career in the taxation field to train full time in Boccia under the Sports Excellence Scholarship conferred by Sport Singapore. Nurul was the first Singaporean to represent Singapore in Boccia at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Nurul is a strong advocate of an inclusive society that allows people with challenged mobility to be meaningful contributors in the society. She speaks frequently to youths to encourage them to reflect on the opportunities and challenges that the community might face and how they can embrace those opportunities and challenges to create positive change in the community. She also voluntarily coaches younger Boccia players on how to take charge of their game and their lives. For her contribution towards sports in Singapore and for her efforts to make a difference in the lives of people with physical disabilities, Nurul was conferred the Singapore Youth Award in 2014.

What makes Singapore home?

The familiarity of the sights, sounds and tastes makes Singapore home. The comfort of travelling within Singapore and convenience of access to various goods and services makes me thankful to call Singapore home.
 
How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

It is hard for me to comment since I've only lived 30 of those later years. The improved infrastructure and public transportation system that is more accessible for people with disabilities are a significant change that has impacted me. As a child, Hari Raya was a challenge when it came to visiting my relatives who stayed on non-lift landing storeys of the older public housing blocks. I also couldn't take the public train and buses because there were no lifts to get to the train platform and no ramps to enter the buses. Now, almost all of these physical ("hardware") hurdles are being eliminated. What's left is to change the heart ware of our people to be more gracious when enjoying all these improved facilities.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Currently, women are generally better represented across all sectors of the community in Singapore, as compared to 50 years ago. I don't need to second guess my decisions and choices with "Will I be treated differently because I am a woman?" and this is probably a marked difference from what a woman 50 years ago would have had to consider if she were to pursue what I am pursuing today.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Be brave to try new things. Be brave to change what bothers you. Believe you can be brave. 


Michelle Martin

   

Hi Michelle, tell us about yourself!

I’ve been a radio broadcaster with news and information station 938LIVE for the last 14 years.  I helm several shows; “Talking Books” is devoted to encouraging love for reading and WOW or “Women of Worth” is a show conceptualized to speak meaningfully to the thinking woman and to bring home the message that every woman is a woman of worth.

What makes Singapore home?

Friends, family and food!

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

I’m an island-girl so I love the beach and am frequently found cycling up and down East Coast Parkway. Even when I am on vacation, if I can’t see the horizon over open water, it doesn’t feel like a holiday.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

One area that I think there has been an important change is the general willingness of people – both the man-on-the street and the voices of authority from various sectors- to engage in public discussion of what they observe of life here.  I host a show where we open phone lines daily to sense the pulse of Singapore on various socio-political issues and I feel people are very much more forthcoming with their views, speaking out for what they believe to be important.   

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Gender equality is about social justice and there is a continuous need to engage with the real needs of women in Singapore who should not be held back by stereotypes or pre-conceived notions of a woman’s role. Is there room for discussion about a woman’s autonomous control of reproductive decisions that technology is enabling by allowing for the freezing of her eggs for future pregnancy ? Can we listen to the real needs of single mothers who want society to send a clear message that every child is valued? Can we do more to tap on the talent pool of women who want to keep a hand in work while taking on the main role of raising a family? There are still important questions to be raised, debated and answered as we look forward to the next 50 years in Singapore.  

What is one advice you would want to share?

So often we silence our voices to fit in with whoever we think will judge us.  But some of the most amazing people I have met invariably exhibit a connection with their own inner voice and authority. We are all a work in progress but we do ourselves an enormous disservice by ignoring our own inner voice. Pay attention to it and then find ways to allow the world to hear your considered thoughts. I like to think that the world’s heartbeat is not a chorus of monotony but a song which shapes each other’s being and one we contribute to when we find ways to speak our minds intentionally.


 Tess Mackean

  

Hi Tess, tell us about yourself!

I grew up in a large blended family on the South Coast of England before moving to London to start my career about 10 years ago. I cut my teeth working in corporate brand and marketing before following in the footsteps of my aunt and moving into the charity world. Women like my aunty, who has devoted her adult life to helping remote communities in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula (Community Foundation for South Sinai), inspired me to invest my time in a career I felt passionate about. I now have the privilege of working with similar charities across Singapore who are really making a difference to the country that we all call home.

What makes Singapore home?

One of the incredible things about Singapore is the diversity of its population. No matter where you are from, you are able to make a place for yourself within society. Living in Little India, I feel lucky to be part of a very vibrant section of the community with its own distinct cultural identity, quite different from the rest of the country. Despite these differences, it still plays an important part in the overall make up of Singapore. I feel like I’ve had a similar experience. I have a different background to many others living here and yet I still feel welcomed and like I can make a meaningful contribution to the bigger picture. This sense of belonging is why Singapore now feels like home. 

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

Contrary to its reputation as a big, urban city, I’m always blown away by the wildlife I see when I venture out to areas like Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh and even diving at Pulau Hantu. We have some amazing native species here which you can be lucky enough to glimpse if you take some time out to explore, from civets and hornbills to crocodiles and sharks. Sadly, many of these species are now endangered which is why the work of charities like ACRES (Animal Concerns Research & Education Society) and Shark Savers Singapore is so important and admirable.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Whilst I wasn’t born until the 80’s, I was first in Singapore 12 years ago and I can’t believe the scale of the changes that have happened in little over a decade. The infrastructure and architecture that have sprung up since my first visit is incredible. These changes speak to a country which has shown determination, resilience and commitment to progress since its beginnings. These thoughts were shared by my grandfather, who was here back in the 50s and who was struck by this small pocket of Asia with such ambition. I think he’d be speechless if he could see Singapore today.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

As with many countries around the world, I think that there has been some great progress in gender quality in Singapore but there are still many other areas in which we can improve. For example, I was staggered to learn at an event the other day that single mothers in Singapore are only entitled to half the maternity leave that a married mother can take, which makes absolutely no sense. On the more positive side, I learned this from an incredible woman who campaigns tirelessly to improve support for vulnerable women in Singapore and campaigns for new laws to protect them. The fact that she has been able to have such an impact already shows that women’s issued are beginning to be taken seriously. If more women, with the support of organisations like UN Women and AWARE, stand up to demand more progress in gender equality, the next 50 years could see incredible change.

What is one advice you would want to share?

We need to stop apologising for ourselves and our passions. If something drives you to jump out of bed every day, share it with others gleefully and unapologetically. You never know who you might inspire to do the same.


Hana Ismail

Photo credit: Yoshi Anwar

  

Hi Hana, tell us about yourself!

I identify myself first of all as a mom, although I struggle every single day to be a good one. It's been the biggest challenge in my life so far! My kids are a reflection of me - the good and the bad, and seeing how they grow to become their own persons, with bits of me in them, is an amazing thing to witness.

I am also an avid practitioner of yoga, although I too struggle every day with becoming a good one. Yoga is so much more than mastering physical postures, or 'Asanas'. In Ashtanga Yoga or the 'Eight Limbs of Yoga', 'Yamas' and 'Niyamas' come before 'Asanas' - these are ethical guidelines (such as non-violence or compassion, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-attachment) that allow us to be at peace with ourselves, our family, and our community. There's so much I am learning from yoga, I'd talk endlessly with friends about it if I could!

What makes Singapore home?

As much as I love travelling (and wish I had more means to do it), and as much as I grumble over little dissatisfactions here and there, my heart is pretty much firmly rooted here in Singapore. I feel safe letting my children roam around the neighbourhood, I know they'll get a good education no matter which school they go to, and I believe they'll have so much opportunities to find what they'll be good at, and love doing, than I ever did. Plus, they love the wide variety of food easily found in Singapore, especially with neighbourhood eateries that are open 24 hours!

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

We're so fast-paced, especially in terms of building infrastructure and technology - in the blink of an eye, a new mall or a new housing estate would seemingly pop up from nowhere, forever changing the landscape of our country.  Our mix of people have changed a lot too, from the 'standard' Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian, to include a whole lot of nationalities and languages now, a constantly evolving 'rojak' of people!

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years? 

I see women being so much more empowered these days - they can do as much as men, if not more! Mothers balance work-life more determinedly, are so much more informed and educated, and more of us have a life outside of families. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to 'leave behind' my children a few hours a week to "do yoga", as they call it. It's mommy's thing, something she does even better cooking! And they've totally accepted that, which I doubt would be possible if I were a mother 50 years ago.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience? 

Avoid the pitfalls of giving excuses such as "I don't have the time", especially when it comes to taking care of yourself and your well-being. And... GO "DO YOGA"!


Jawiah Surip

 

Hi Jawiah, tell us about yourself!

I am a mother of 4 and proud grandmother to a brood of 10. I used to operate a canteen stall at Temasek Secondary but retired years ago to take care of my grandchildren.

I have been very independent since young. I started working at a young age to help my family out and continued to do so to supplement my late husband's income for my own family. I am also resourceful and sociable, and "rezeki" (blessings) come my way, all praises be to Him. Ever since I suffered a stroke early this year though, I have been quite dependent on my children. But I am still quite lively and I have my own opinion on a lot of things!

What makes Singapore home?

I was born here, my ancestors were born here and my children and grandchildren were born here. So Singapore is home to me because that's where family has always been. It's a good place to call home, there is peace and stability here even if things are getting more expensive. 

Where is your favorite place in Singapore? And why?

Geylang Serai. It is a good place for a mak cik like me to hang out at. There is an abundant of halal food and cheap goods. It's also very clean now!

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I think the population demographic has changed. There are many more foreigners now. The standard of living has risen though this also means that things are also more costly. 

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I think gender equality is important, especially in Singapore. Girls must not be restricted to only staying at home & taking care of the family. They are as capable as boys and should be allowed to work in any field that they want. I always encourage my granddaughters to study as much as they can and to have their own careers.

What is one advice you would want to share with your audience?

The family unit is very important. The younger generation should respect the elderly and be filial to them. But the elderly should also do their part to help their children out in the household, and not be a burden to them. Maybe the authorities can come up with schemes to ensure that everyone lives harmoniously together. Only then can Singapore prosper even more.


Haseena Sham 

  

Hi Haseena, tell us about yourself!

I am a passionate communicator. I use my 20 years of experience in Communication to inspire learning individuals to unlock their potential and identify their uniqueness to raise their visibility so that they can transform their businesses, their careers and their lives.

What makes me me is my addiction to compassion and love and these fuel my thirst to make a difference in someone else’s life on daily basis.

What makes Singapore home?

Our Multi-Racial, Multi-Cultural and Multi- Religious society always creates a sense of belonging to me. Watching our sports Heroes fighting for the medals and raising our flag up high and people like Veronica Shanti Pereira who took thefinishing line and won the first gold medal in the 200 metres sprint at (SEA) game, made me cry of pride. Singing every word of Majulah Singapura especially on national events gives me a great sense of identity. Just like any other country Singapore is less than perfect but to me the people whom I share all these things with, my family, friends andfellow Singaporeans makes Singapore truly home to me.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why!

Our national pride, Changi Airport. Due to very tough laws and regulations, the place is such a safe haven to relax and chill with friends and family. I can’t wait for Jewel our biggest recreational facility to be up and pulling more visitors to make our Airport the best – yet again.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has definitely and surely changed for the better in the last 50 years. Our landscape has transform tremendously and as citizens we are living quality lives, enjoying the progression, prosperity and stability. Though all these changes are remarkable for a small-city state like Singapore, I do wish our core values which are an integral part of our identity does not get diluted in the midst of all these changes and should remain unchanged for now and 50 years to come.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

While we have made progressed in Gender equality over the years, there are still underrepresentation of women in the senior management roles and in the C-suite level at workplace. As a career coach, I have seen many women who have been penalized in terms of salary and job position for leaving the workforce just to fulfil motherhood for a certain period of time. These women often have to start from scratch despite having the skillsets and experience to get back on their career track. There aren’t enough measures and avenues to ensure or reassure these women that their decision to fulfil motherhood for a short period will not affect their opportunities of being employable or their abilities of getting a promotion. I would like to see more inclusiveness in terms of welcoming women fulfilling motherhood back to workforce making sure that their work positions or salaries are not being short changed at workplace.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Stop Judging, Start Loving and Continue to Feed the Soul


Soumya Bhagavatula

  

Hi Soumya, tell us about yourself!

Hi! My name is Soumya Bhagavatula and I am currently a corporate lawyer working with Clifford Chance in Singapore. I was born in India but was raised and have lived in Singapore for the past 25 years. I have eclectic interests – whether it is reading books, dancing, acting, debating etc and I don’t think any one thing defines me in particular. I am all for ‘variety is the spice of life’ mantra!

What makes Singapore home?

Family, childhood memories and friends, the freedom to pursue all my dreams, safety and comfort, familiarity.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I think its rapid development from a fishing village to a world-class cosmopolitan city is the most significant change in the past 50 years.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

One’s mindset towards concepts like freedom, gender equality, empowerment and other forms of progressive thinking are often defined by what kind of home/family you come from. I had the privilege of coming from an Indian family that was always very progressive and forward thinking and that had a deep impact on how I perceived gender equality in my formative years. This upbringing at home coupled with uninterrupted education and access to opportunities defined the status gender equality in Singapore. Hence, on those broad and key parameters of gender equality I think Singapore has done well in the last 50 years.

However, progress and development also forces you to relook gender equality through a fresh pair of lenses. This includes treatment of women in lower income groups from other countries (our foreign domestic workers), the comparability of salaries and responsibility between men and women (especially in the higher echelons of the workplace) and the support given to women as primary caregivers in the family. These parameters are more nebulous and intangible and as a result, harder to monitor. Yet, they are extremely crucial if we want to truly develop and progress in terms of gender equality this next millennium.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Empower yourself before you empower others. And as a woman don’t feel the pressure to be good at everything to prove a point.


Porsche Poh

 

   

Hi Porsche, tell us a little about yourself!

I am presently serving as the Executive Director of the Silver Ribbon (Singapore), Regional Vice President (Asia Pacific) of the World Federation for Mental Health, Mental Health First Aid Community Trainer and Facilitator for the Community of Practice (CoP) Mental Health.

Under my leadership, the Silver Ribbon team works closely with the policymakers, grassroots leaders & government agencies. In addition, I have been making several oral and poster presentations locally and internationally, sharing with participants of the needs and challenges of mental health advocacy. In 2011, I published a book entitled ‘Mental Health Revolution-Making Things Happen,’ which details the mental health evolvement and transformation in Singapore, and launched it at the World Mental Health Congress in Cape Town in 2011.

For my contribution in mental health advocacy, I am blessed to receive The Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore (TOYP) Awards from the Junior Chamber International in 2008 and the Singapore Woman Award in 2013.

My dad died of heart disease when I was at age of 7 and my mum passed away due to colon cancer when I was 18 with no sibling and limited support. With my struggle in my personal life, I count my blessing each day.

As my journey in mental health advocacy can be rather challenging, I truly appreciate the support of the organisations and individuals who keep me going.

What makes Singapore home?

After visiting a number of countries and reading those news, I feel fortunate being a citizen of a safe (being free from poverty, war & natural disasters) and stable country.In fact, I used to complain a lot about the mental health system in the past.

During my meetup with stakeholders of mental health system from other parts of the world, I learnt about concerns of those patients on the treatment cost and voluntary welfare organisations’ reports on lack of support for their initiatives.

Although we do not have the best mental health system in Singapore, our Singaporeans are entitled to subsidised treatment and reps from NGOs could tap on support and assistance from agencies such as National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, National Council of Social Service, Agency for Integrated Care, MINDSET Care Limited, etc.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore? and why?

The Chinatown area where I spent my childhood in my grandma’s house and with my primary school (Fairfield Methodist Girls’ School) within the vicinity.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Some are impressed that Singapore has changed tremendously in trade, finance, education and other areas over the years while a handful find it hard to catch up with the fast pace and eventually break down. Hence, I hope the Government will recognise the need to continue their investment in mental health promotion and advocacy.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Over the past 50 years, I observed and applaud the effort of those agencies in addressing gender quality in Singapore. For example, MOM emphasized on fair employment practise.  In addition, I am pleased to see an increase in female representation and find it a good gesture for the local government to take the lead by involving more women in the cabinet.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Each of us plays a role in shaping Singapore into a gracious and inclusive country.


Faridah Jamal

  

Hi Faridah, tell us about yourself!

In 2001, nicknamed by my music colleague as the “Angklung Queen” of Singapore – having carved my own full-time career in angklung music-teaching in 1993, thus naturally assuming the ‘Pioneer’ status in this arena (!).  Thus I happily established my brand-name “angklungqween” – that’s qWeen with a “W” to affirm the uniqueness of what I am and what I do.

The strong desire and passion to express myself in performing and communicative arts especially for children and youth; also for adults who are not musically-trained or have the misconception that they are “tone & rhythm - deaf”.

I can only be my best if I can add value not just to myself and family, but to my community and the borderless world.

The love for music: angklung, and traditional Indonesian and Malay; as well as world and abstract music - thanks to my Indonesian (Banjarese) heritage. My late father used to sing keroncong music with the Radio Malaya Orchestra (Singapore) while he was still in Victoria School.  My first conducting experience: as the school conductor, at the age of 13, for the daily singing of the National Anthem – thanks to my military band (flute) and string ensemble (violin) experience.  And then in Pre-University: student conductor for the Raffles Girls’ School Angklung Orchestra.

What makes Singapore home?

Born and bred in Singapore; in a Jalan Pisang (JP) shophouse; and so were my late father and all my 3 elder siblings. JP is in Singapore’s most important Malay-Muslim cultural and trading enclave and landmark: Kampung Gelam. I am therefore so proud to have been, not just a Jalan Pisang girl but a Kampung Gelam kid; the entire K.G. was my playground.  On our five-foot path or in and out of our shophouses, we played hopscotch, police-and-thief,  skipping, domestic role-play…  And we learned the basics of Quran from our JP neighbour, and then graduated to the mosque.

Singapore is where most of my family and relatives are. This country (and especially Kampung Gelam) is so colourful. Of course, the bulk of my larger family is still in Indonesia (Jakarta & Martapura) and some in Malaysia (KL). Generally, travel is easy here and food is abundant.  While the pace of life here gets crazier, we still make time for each other. People are still loving and caring at heart. We just have to make that little effort and life gets a tad bit easier and less stressful.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Tremendously – both laudable, and not. 

MY Kampung Gelam and Bugis were a rather quiet area, even with so much activity from the early 60s when I was born till the late 80s. Then with the MRT, boom! – Bugis became yet another Orchard Road, and even more. I was stifled; so were my family members and many Kampung Gelam residents. I had already moved to Tampines in 1996, but Bugis is still my first love. The change was certainly good as Singapore became more connected; but many of us cried: “Where did ALL these people suddenly come from??! Our kampong and playground has been encroached and the culture upset!” We detested the gawking over shopping and the crowds. 

In the early 70s, arts education was not fully supported as technical and vocational education took more centre-stage. The passionate arts activists carried on very much on their own.  In the 90s, there was a sudden huge interest in the arts especially performing arts as a co-curricular activity. It was certainly good news for me who had just carved my full-time career in music-teaching.  The typical constant need to succeed and claim glory however, has made us very competitive; it was good in so far as it pushed us beyond our perceived abilities – both for the student as well as teachers and co-educators (instructors/coaches). Students who never thought they could succeed at all were winning awards in the arts which awesomely raised their self-esteem and potentials. For the instructors/coaches, this led to more confidence and higher standards of their creativity and quality of instruction. Yet, as in any successful society, competitions and tests seem to be the only yardstick for our worth. Fortunately, this has been addressed with the watering-down of grades- and awards-only system of assessment, replaced by the evaluation on other intelligences, soft skills, community service and leadership which had not been given enough consideration.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Generally, society has grown more accepting of merit and talent, character and service; never mind your gender.

As an educator and music director, I do not see much gender inequality in my field. In fact, the education and training industries have seen a more balanced ratio of male:female professionals and service providers. This is obviously one industry where women rule, and has been ruling for a long time. With a much clearer career path in the MOE, there are definitely more male education officers. We certainly welcome this as it not only addresses the unbalanced gender ratio but gives our male students a clear role model.  For instructors/coaches, there is still a preference for one gender or the other for valid reasons. And whether there are more women or not in this field has not caused a stir. What is more compelling and important is that we should have more QUALITY players. Gender-orientation is not important.   

What is one advice you would want to share?

Same as my own philosophy:

DO WHAT YOU LOVE, AND LOVE WHAT YOU DO. Just make sure it is ethical!

With that, spice up your life with GIVING AND PRAYING, GRATITUDE AND KINDNESS, because, what goes around comes around.


Shereena Sajeed

  

Hi Shereena, tell us about yourself!

I am a 30 year old Singaporean woman, of mixed heritage, but born and bred here in Singapore. I am also a mother to a one and half year old boy and wife to my husband for 3 years now.

I'm a (what they call) stay-at-home mum and am proud to say that. We made the decision as a family that I would give up my career (I used to work as a radio journalist in the local media industry before this) and raise our child the way we wanted to. With so many families, either by necessity or choice, having domestic helpers as part of their family nucleus, I believe that our decision is what is best for our family and I have no regrets. I don't have many accolades to my name, I'm just an ordinary Singaporean woman who loves her family, friends and life.

What makes Singapore home?

I have always known Singapore was home because it's where my family is but it was not till I went to Australia for my studies when I was 21 years old, did I finally realise that Singapore was where I wanted to be. When so many of my friends chose to stay on and apply for citizenship there, I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, I wanted to come back and contribute to the Singapore economy and work here. I missed everything about Singapore, from its local cuisine like char kueh teow send hokkien mee (you just could not get the same thing there) to the everyday people at the local market/coffeshop/shopping centre. Singapore is home because we all speak a common language (it's so easy to spot a Singaporean when Singlish is the common thread) and this is where my family is.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

My favourite place would be anywhere in the east coast, be it a stroll in the park or hitting the malls. There is just a different air and feel in the people who stay in the east.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I am only 30 years of age but I do remember much of my childhood years and it's nothing like what it is now. I remember growing up with less crowds, more holidays and less stress in general. Today, with influx of many immigrants, it has changed. Going out seems more tiring and parking is always a problem. Having said that, Singapore has grown economically and there's always a new attraction to check out every now and then. But with that comes the constant construction going on the moment you step out your door, not to mention the pollution as well. All part and parcel of living in a 1st world country, I suppose.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Gender equality will always be there no matter what. Of course, now there are as many women in the workforce compared to two decades ago. Women are rising up the corporate ladder, at a faster rate now. Despite this, deep down when you ask men, in general, their views on women have not changed. They still expect women to not only bring home part of the bacon, but also manage the household, expenses, the children's education, and the list goes on. But I guess, we women, are blessed that way, we are excellent multi taskers, who can adapt to any challenge or situation that unfolds. As the saying goes, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of it.


What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Focus on what you have not on what you don't. It will save you much heartache! Too many a time, we worry and stress over something that just may not be the right time or season. So look Up, and see the good in your everyday life. Run the race win your heart full of grace and head lifted high.


Magdalena Poulin

    

Hi Magdalena! Tell us more about yourself.

Everyone calls me Magda, I come from Poland and live with my family in beautiful and exotic Singapore! I work for HP in the area of Diversity & Inclusion, where I develop and create empowerment opportunities for employees who are in minorities in the APAC region. I also manage the regional Corporate Social Responsibility program to ensure we contribute to the communities HP operates in. My work gives me great purpose as I can make a difference and impact lives of others less fortunate than me through volunteering, mentoring and education. Collaboration with UN Women Singapore and US Embassy Singapore gave me opportunities to create new mentoring programs for young girls who could potentially choose STEM education and careers in the future, I am proud to have such collaborative and passionate partners here! I am married, have a lively 2-year old daughter and expecting a baby boy in September, so I am thrilled we will have diversity in our family! In my leisure time I dance socially, for various performances and at competitions! The dance genres I practice are salsa, bachata, West Coast Swing, jazz, lyrical jazz, burlesque and pole. I am also a green belt in Taekwondo! The rest of my family is also very active so we spend all of out free time hiking, swimming and travelling!

What makes Singapore home?

From the moment we moved to Singapore, we felt very welcome here. That was over 5 years ago. The tropical climate agrees with us and provides us with opportunities to lead an active lifestyle we love. It is also a cultural melting pot so we enjoy the diversity and variety of people we meet, food we can try and wealth of cultural heritage we can discover. I personally love the interesting mix of western and Asian cultures and standards, it’s a unique place in Asia that is very safe, clean and very easily accessible from so many neighboring countries… I also need to admit that Singapore is a wonderful place for young families, where parents can still develop professionally with the support of well-developed system of domestic help, but at the same time enjoy the exotic weather that makes you feel like you live permanently in a holiday destination…

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has a very unique history as it was built on cultural heritage of Asia, yet with a new and westernized outlook on economic and financial growth. The beginnings were tough for Singapore as there were no resources available here, no land for agriculture, no military, limited manufacturing capacity and no natural resources, but Lee Kuan Yew built a nation and infrastructure that allowed Singapore to thrive! His leadership led to development in public and private sectors as he drove the nation through conservative yet effective practices that promoted well-educated society, innovation and pro-business growth. As a result, today’s Singapore is rich, it has very low unemployment rate, it is a financial and technological hub in the region, and what’s important to us: it is safe, clean and peaceful. Foreign investments bring talent from all over the world adding to the large mix of nationalities and skills that contribute to further growth of the country. From the cultural standpoint, there are 4 official languages here and various religions reside harmoniously between Buddhist and Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, Christian and catholic churches and many others! Chinese, Malay and other nations have their strong presence from the very beginning and marked their heritage in various parts of the city creating a diverse and interesting mix of Asian flavors!

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Singapore is an interesting country from the gender equality’s perspective… The country was built on very conservative practices that emerged from Asian value-based role of a woman in the society where she was expected to focus on family growth and education. This has continued for decades but new trends started to develop as the economic growth required female participation in the workforce. Today, the role of a woman in a society has changed dramatically, as the country transformation brought about a remarkable transformation in the people of Singapore. Women gained broader access to education, workplace, health care and fuelled further Singapore’s economic growth. This has also shifted family dynamics as more men got involved in managing homes and children. Modern Singaporean families are very flexible and accepting of modern life and career choices for women. Domestic help available in Singapore made it also much more accessible for women to earn their own wages. However, there are still many gender gaps related to female participation in certain careers and industries, at senior management levels and within pay equality. Although women have more opportunities in Singapore than any other Asian country, the gender biases and stereotypes continue and pose a dilemma among many mothers who struggle with achieving work-life balance.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Singapore is very diverse, however I think there is a struggle with inclusion. I would like to encourage everyone, regardless of your origin, cultural heritage or viewpoints, to celebrate this diversity through more intentional inclusion. What does it mean and how we could practice it? We need to be open minded, curious, empowering, non-judgmental, non-assuming and manage our implicit associations and biases every day. Everyone would like to feel a part of a team, group, community, nation. We thrive and grow in communities, so let’s treat everyone with the respect we all deserve and would like to receive from others.


Sarah Druce

  

Hi Sarah, tell us abit more about yourself!

I am an Australian lawyer and mother of two.  I currently work for some Singapore charities, mainly with Aidha (an award-winning Singaporean social enterprise which offers “sustainable futures through financial education” for foreign domestic and other low income workers).  I am happiest on metres-deep untracked powder snow, preferably in Japan, before an onsen and some ramen.  And if I could choose, I would gladly never visit a shopping centre again. 

What makes Singapore home?

I came with my husband 6 years ago with a plan to stay for 2 years.  Two children and three homes later, and we have no plans to leave.   We love the lifestyle and the opportunities that the little red dot has to offer.  Also, as an expat, without family here, we have an incredible group of friends whom we love and who are our Singapore family.   

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

The best, closest chicken rice, bah kut teh or chicken curry restaurant.  That’s the one thing I really miss when I’m not in Singapore – eating the best street food at 1am.   I love MacRitchie Reservoir during the week at sunrise when I have the trails almost to myself – it feels like I’m in the middle of the jungle.   Or it’s with a gin and tonic with on a Saturday afternoon with some of the amazing friends I’ve met here.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has obviously had a world leading transformation in the past 50 years.  It is an incredible and inspirational story.  Almost everything about Singapore has changed in the past 50 years – which I think presents the challenge for Singapore going forward.   How do you support this rate of development and maintain the social fabric of the community?

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I think that there is still room for Singapore to improve gender equality.   There are still massive gender gaps in Singapore in terms of political representation (there are currently 18 elected women parliamentarians out of a total of 84 elected members) and in positions of government and business leadership.     

Also, I have met amazing Singaporean sports women whose families tried to persuade them not to follow their sporting dreams as playing sports was not considered “lady like”.    It is time for these kinds of irrelevant and antiquated attitudes to end.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

When you see something that is unjust, unequal or unfair, speak out!  Whether it is someone saying ‘don’t be such a girl’, or someone not giving the same level of service to a foreign domestic worker at the shops, speak out.  By opening the conversation each time you see inequality, we can identify what needs to be changed and change it.


 Zaharah Ariff

  

Hi Zaharah, tell us more about yourself!

I came from a very supportive family. I must say that academically, I am one of those who had to go through longer route to achieve my dreams. With the encouragement from my family, at the age of 18, I signed up for evening part-time classes with MOE and I had to start from the bottom i.e. Secondary 2. The minute I made up my mind, I did not look back. My life from then on revolved around working full time during the day to support my studies and as a part-time student in the evenings. I did this for 10 years. It’s was an “academic race”.

However, I could also see my career progression with my academic achievement. I had good exposure of working in the corporate environment and was given opportunities to progress further, but somehow I knew that working in the corporate world was not what I wanted. My hunger to upgrade myself academically was still very strong. I decided to go for a career switch and went into social work. I took Diploma in Counselling where I find myself growing as an individual and that I am enjoying the new me.

I wanted to put into practice what I learnt and signed up for a Degree programme in order to render my service as a Counsellor. With the Degree, the opportunity given to me was tremendous. I was offered to work as a School Counsellor and soon after as a Marriage Counsellor. My experiences working with these 2 different profiles were just amazing. It was really an eye opener for me and I found a lot of satisfaction knowing that I am a part of their journey towards making life changes. To see my clients growing with confidence before my eyes was an experience that will stay with me forever.

At some point, I should be telling myself to stop the “academic race”, but I guess, this is where the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs set in for me. I wanted to do something more, not for career progression, but more for my own self-actualization; I signed up for a Masters Programme in Counselling and graduated in 2008.

My life journey has humbled me in many ways. From someone who left school with only Secondary 1 education, I managed to earn a Masters qualification in my counselling profession. Looking back, I often asked myself where will I be if I had not responded to the wake-up call and do not have a supportive family who encouraged me to take the 1st step to sign up for my part-time classes. My own experiences has taught me the route to achievement is not limited to only one way but to believe in one-self is the key to unlock life surprises.

What makes Singapore home?

My interpretation of HOME is a place where I feel safe, supported, have the freedom to practice my beliefs, opportunity to achieve my dreams and surrounded by families and friends who shares the same sentiments. I can find all these in Singapore.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I must say that the social service landscape has progressed tremendously. The commitment from government to continuously fill up the gaps in making sure that the less fortunate are supported not just financially but also emotionally in order to meet with the demands of our high living standards as well as the well-being. Singapore has grown into a community that is gracious and inclusive. These joint efforts between the government, community & individuals as well as the corporates really make Singapore solid and unique.

What  are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Gender equality in Singapore has certainly progressed over the years. I see women and men working together in areas where it used to be dominated by men such as architectural, electrical and engineering. Over the years, I see women taking the role of CEOs in leading commercial industries as well as in the non-profit sectors. Even in sports, for example golf, women are seen actively involved in the game. In 2013, Singapore had its 1st female Speaker of Parliament. It shows that Singapore values each person based on his/her merits and not who you are or who you know.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Be precise with what you want and work towards achieving it!


 Charlotte Goh 

  

Hello Charlotte, tell us about yourself!

Wow a simple question, but it forces me to stop and think what makes up who I am. 

I am someone who believes that in giving of myself to others in any way big or small; in blessing others with even a warm smile, or an encouragement, or a statement of truth that benefits the person, I can do my best to make a positive difference. My life is about that I realise. It's about wanting to make good differences in other people's lives. I always ask myself, what difference can I make? 

What makes Singapore home?

All the relationships I have here make Singapore my home. My heart is here because my closest ones are here too. The people around me continuously build me and grow me. I realise that my desires can be fulfilled here. That's why I want to be where I am. I have wonderful experiences in other beautiful countries too with close relationships too. It's all part of my life experiences and I treasure them. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years? 

Needless to say, it's very modern, it's a cool city, and we’ve got hardware to be proud of. We've got more people from different parts of the world coming together and living together. What is changing in my eyes is how the community is slowly becoming more responsible for each other around us. There is a growing surge of groups and individuals coming together to make positive differences in the society we live in. For a long time we turned to the government to solve many issues, but we are slowly taking collective responsibility for the community we live in. There are so many wonderful examples of groups and individuals stepping out to reach out and strengthen others in our community. 

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

I say this from my own personal experience: I lived almost all of my life so far in Singapore. My comment is related to my being in Singapore. I have been blessed in my career and life, in all my different jobs, with equal opportunities in Singapore. How I see change is how a woman sees herself. Some of our mothers grew up and gave their whole life to the family putting themselves selflessly last, if at all. My generation, even though we grew up with that mind-set, we are gradually recognising the importance of putting ourselves first and because of that, we are taking better care of our emotions, our spirituality, our bodies and our life choices. We are asking for help, voicing our thoughts and reaching out more. When we prioritise ourselves, self-perception changes and that does influence how others treat you, regardless of gender. People, bosses, co-workers, neighbours, friends, family members, all reflect the energy space we are in. 

What is one advice you would want to share?

Don't live with regrets. I always ask myself, will I regret if I don't do this, or if I do this. The answer is always clear to me if I pose the question to myself. And give to bless others. Always. You'll be surprise how much it blesses you. 


 Ruby Shekhar

   Hi Ruby, tell us more about yourself!

My name is Ruby Shekhar. I am a naturalized Singaporean, of Indian origin; born into a family from Punjab (North India); grew up in Assam (North East India); married a Brahmin boy from Tamil Nadu (South India); and have now been living in Singapore for almost 20 years. I did my graduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering; worked in the software development industry for about 9 years and have been running after-school enrichment centres for the last eighteen years. For most of my adult life, I hated to dress up, refused to 'waste' money on real jewellery or wear any make-up. Just a few years back, I got attracted to the 'art form called the Sari', and started to collect and wear them frequently. I decided to add some 'tech oomph' into this belated interest in life, and created a Facebook page called 'Demure Drapes'. I thought it was a great way to learn, communicate with friends and have some fun. It was amazing to see so many people, from near and far, adding their posts and pictures to the page and a voluntary group soon came together to create a lot of fun events featuring the Sari. I hope to keep unfurling new ideas; - to learn new things and make new friends with; very much like unfolding the drapes of a mysterious Sari.....


Need I add that I am a Gemini, and according to my dear husband and kids, have a completely split personality!

What makes Singapore home?

Family, friends and ‘Manzil’ (our home in Singapore which in Persian means final destination, goal or purpose). This eclectic mix makes me yearn to come back even when I am away on a holiday and I hope this feeling and bond with Singapore keeps growing. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I can only talk about the 20 odd years that I have been here. It certainly has become more cosmopolitan, more open and more fun. It has grown a bit more crowded but still stayed ‘greener’ than most cities I have visited across the world. It is now also far better known and acknowledged as one of the most liveable cities in the world. However, 20 years ago, most Singaporeans seemed to appreciate whatever they had. Regrettably, we have now become ‘champion grumblers’, despite the enormity of Singapore’s progress and achievements.  

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Again, my experiences over the last 20 years has been very positive on this count. Most Singaporean women are ‘equal’ if not ‘first amongst equals’ – whether at home or work. You can see countless examples of successful women (and a few men!) in all walks of life – whether in the government, in big and small corporates, or in the social sector. It is one of the few cities in the world where one can go out in the middle of the night and yet feel safe as a woman. Maybe NS for women will make men completely on par with Singaporean women!

What is one advice you would want to share?

We have to truly understand value and cherish the miracle that is our ‘home’ today. If we really look at the outside world, it will help us appreciate how fortunate each Singaporean  is, today. It will also hopefully force us to continuously adapt and innovate, so that we stay ahead of the curve.


Charlene Koh

  

Hi Charlene, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am a co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer for Paktor, Singapore's first and largest local dating app. Besides handling the overall marketing direction for the brand across Asia, I also spearhead Paktor’s offline business called GaiGai, which is a bespoke matchmaking agency that my partners and I founded in November last year. Truth be told, I never expected to be working in the dating industry my whole life. Who would ever think of doing this when you're in university or still a kid? I believe my curiosity and adventurous spirit led me to the dating industry, and I haven’t looked back since.

What makes Singapore home?

Having lived in Sydney for 8 years, each time when I flew back home, just the obligatory ‘…Singapore residents a warm welcome home’ from the Singapore Airlines Stewardess always filled me with joy. Food is also one of the things that I miss most when I was abroad also the people you share it with. Food binds us together in Singapore. I refer to the Singapore pledge, because it shows us not where we are now, but what we hope to become. Singapore is my home because not just me, but all of us Singapore citizens are striving together for a better future for not just us but for our country.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has definitely changed tremendously over the last 50 years. We have better road infrastructures, hospitals, clean water to drink every day and also a great education system. Education has evolved to be more inclusive so both males and females have equal and fair rights. This has been essential in helping us build the modern metropolis that Singapore is right now.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

It has been improving, which is a positive sign. Women are getting more recognition in our society today and more women are breaking the glass ceilings in business. We cannot ignore the past, where women were considered the weaker sex and there was clear inequality. Fast forward to today, women are celebrated widely across our tiny island and we are seeing more female politicians holding seats in our government. This would never have even been thought of 50 years ago.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Dare to dream! Regardless of your gender, we're a force to be reckoned with! 


 

Natasha Lean

  

Hi Natasha, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am me. I have 1 one mind; 1 soul, one soul. I live for others such as- the weak and the needy. Not only those that lack monetary gains but those with “no voice” to speak up like birds and animals.

I work for an NGO together with the programs team doing case work. I love what I do and though my workload sometimes takes me past the midnight “chime” and some weekends, it wouldn’t matter as somewhere some child is sleeping contented with a nourished mind. To see anyone happy as result of my help fulfils me.

What makes Singapore home?

My neighbours, my fellow work mates and my family living harmoniously together make Singapore home.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

The “Kampong Spirit” is coming back very fast and with the government’s untiring efforts in community clubs and Resident’s Centres and the enthusiasm of new migrants joining in the potpourri.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Singapore has opened its doors to ALL genders. We see this in important positions in Government andn non-Governmental establishments such as sports, cultural, and entertainment fields. If one has the required skills and talents, you have earned a place in the progress of Singapore.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Give. Give your whole self to others and speak up. Show genuine love to want to help. I would like to end with the words of the great Saint of Calcutta, Mother Teresa: – “GIVE. GIVE … until it hurts. Only then are you giving.”


Nazli Anwari

  

Hi Nazli, tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a Singaporean of mix heritage, like the salad: rojak! A little bit of Indian, Malay, Chinese and European. This aspect of my heritage is what I reflect in my approach to health and wellness. I combine traditional Asian therapies with the science of nutritional biochemistry and research from the West in the natural lifestyle programmes I offer. 

I am a mother of 2 grown up children, Sharda and Sean Harrison. We live together and support each other in our work and endeavours.

Medicine Woman Asia was founded in 2010 as a practice to educate and support women in natural health therapies, especially the tradition of Asian plant remedies

I call myself a Plant Medicine Therapist.

 

I use the art of Jamu, the Malay and Indonesian natural plant tradition to help women regain their wellbeing. I believe that each woman can realise inner peace and beauty; that inside every woman is a natural medicine woman who is equipped to heal her-self and others.

I offer workshops on Jamu, Juicing, and Healthy Raw Salads (Malay medicinal salads like ulam). These workshops encourage the use of local vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. I also speak at corporate events and offer workshops to community clubs, women’s groups and other establishments.

I am driven and passionate about my work. The workshops are also about a woman’s personal growth and self-development. I see how many women today have lost their vital energy trying to be many roles and yet forgetting their power as women to heal.

My learning journey started when I was a child, watching my mother preparing her jamu tonics in the kitchen. I think this may have planted the seeds to my horticulture career. I later added a diploma in massage therapy and a specialist diploma in health promotion. Recently, I added a certificate in whole foods plant based nutrition to promote healthy eating.

What makes Singapore home?

Singapore is home because firstly, my family and friends are here. I was born here; I love and appreciate the diversity of races living together and sharing one culture that is the unique essence of Singapore: the proximity of Asia at our doorstep.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

I will say that East Coast Park is my favourite with a close second, Little India.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

As a plant loving person, I notice the destruction of home and kampong gardens, as many old neighborhoods made way for HDB estates. Today many plants like the Noni tree, Breadfood tree or Neem trees are ‘extinct’ on this island. Even humble plants of fruits we love like the Rambutan, Mango, Jackfruit or Chiku are rare plants.  It is a hardscaped city with sensible ornamental plants, many of which are imported hybrids. So, although we have evolved to a smart looking and efficient metropolis, I feel Singapore has lost the ethnic essence of local flavours through its planting. We have forgotten our roots.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

When I was growing up in the sixties, women were content to be teachers, typists and secretaries. Today young women are well educated, and hungry for personal achievement, even in jobs and positions that are traditionally held by men. Gender equality has improved and there is definitely opportunity for any woman to compete with a man. We have a first woman fighter pilot in the RSAF, Captain Khoo Teh Lynn and a few women in politics, amongst others in high office.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Put healthy food in your fridge and look after your family and children.


 Gisela Garcia-Alvarez

  

Hi Gisela, tell us a bit about yourself!

I would described myself as a citizen of the world born in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. Since young I have been always interested in discoveries and that prompted me to become a scientist. My father passed me his travelling genes and my mother her bubbly personality. No wonder I love discovering the world and learning from the different people one meets.

 

What makes Singapore home?

I have lived my most productive and personally happy years as an adult here, in Singapore. Professional challenges and personal changes are totally related with this city state. Besides I met my husband here and formed a Euro-Asian family with a fun mix of Spanish and Singapore. At the end of the day home is where the loved ones are, isn’t it?

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?

The Singapore Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places. My husband and I try to go for a walk or a run early every morning before we start work. However I’m lately falling more and more in love with the Green Corridor, especially as I can still remember when the train still ran through those tracks!

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

 Considering how fast Singapore has changed since I arrived in 2009 I can imagine the Singapore of today is amazingly different from the one 50 years ago. However I must confess that when buildings, hawkers, and paths I use to visit frequently disappear, I feel certain loss. I am in favor of progress, renovation, and changes but I guess my European side likes keeping a bit of the “history” as well.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

I think gender equality has progressed in Singapore as well as in Spain in parallel with the need of increasing the economic power in a family. With the introduction of the women, into the workforce, roles for both genders change inside and outside the household, which obliges to re-adjust.

In my case, as a researcher, I haven’t experience any career barriers for being a woman nor have I observed any inequality inflicted on my female peers. At home I get to experience cultural differences but fortunately my husband and I have the same values regarding gender equality.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Smile more, look at your mobile screen a bit less and before going to bed check if you are satisfied with what you did today. If you are not, it is time for some changes! Even small things will do, try it.


Joy Mahbubani 

  

Hi Joy, tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm not the person I used to be.  In fact, if the old me and new me were to meet, we may not even become friends. Laying in a hospital bed, in a critical state, the result of an abusive marriage, I had a choice: live or die. You can probably guess what I chose! 

Once I made that decision, I felt my spirit return and I felt the Spirit inside of me.  For the past 10 years, this is who I have been.  With the support of family and friends and inspiration from my dear son, I transformed into an independent woman with a vision to live to my full potential. 

It has not been easy and I've made mistakes, but I have refused to let the scars of the past bring me down;in fact, they have given me the strength to strive ever forward.

I've run an interior design business, founded an event management company where I was allowed me to run my own brand of conferences for women, JoyFul Women. This was definitely a highlight in my journey. Currently, I own a Restaurant called J's.

It is said that we are today the accumulation of our past experiences and there is merit in this.  However, it is also our choice of which of those experiences we let affect us the most.  My name used to be Jyoti, but now I am Joy.  And that is who I want to be and how I intend to live my life.

What makes Singapore home?

I was born and grew up in Hong Kong and lived in Central America as well as Indonesia before settling down in Singapore.  Of all the wonderful things that can be said about why I consider Singapore to be my home, first and foremost, this is the place where I became who I am today and I feel this could not have happened anywhere else in the world.

What is your favourite place in Singapore?

My favourite place in Singapore is J’s. Not because I own and run the restaurant but it is a wonderful place where I get to meet people from all walks of life, different races, old and young. Interacting with them has given me a much wider perspective of life itself.

J’s has been a platform for me to pay it forward for all that has been sown in my life.  We have been able to feed migrant workers, domestic helpers, the elderly and this year, we will be working with the youth and other projects that support women in disadvantaged situations.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore is a city that has always strived for excellence. Having lived here for the past 13 years, there are definitely tremendous achievements that can be seen from the infrastructure and technological viewpoint.

However, having run several businesses and working with people at different levels of education and earning capacity, the overall view is that things are getting much tougher for the day to day lives of many.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Singapore is, today, truly one of the most developed societies in terms of gender equality.  Of course there are still examples of women being discriminated against and abused horrendously and we must fight to end all instances of this terrible treatment of women.  However, we do have rights and those rights are enforced by the authorities; perhaps only a handful of other countries can claim the same.

The situation for women today is definitely a result of an evolution of consciousness from a place where women in the past were treated as subservient to men. I feel much credit must be given to the people of Singapore to have evolved to the level they are at now; it is truly from the people we, as women, have a standing on par with men in many areas of life.  There is still a way to go and we must remain ever-vigilant, but we're certainly heading up the right path.

What is one advice you would want to share?

We all have amazing potential—far more than we give ourselves credit for—and sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we find the strength to strive to realise that potential.  Perhaps if we believed in ourselves sooner, we would not have to go through some of the unpleasant experiences that may lie ahead.


 Siti Aishah Zahari 

  

Hi, tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm a designer turned entrepreneur. What do they have in common? The rigour of adaptation. As a designer I had to adapt my artwork to the clients' needs and as an entrepreneur I had to adapt my pitch to the potential customers' needs. "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." -- Charles Darwin. I chose the path as an entrepreneur because it made me feel more creative-focused, having to innovate within a business' constraints and scope, yet broadly-competent, having to pick up new skills every day.

Hi, tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm a designer turned entrepreneur. What do they have in common? The rigour of adaptation. As a designer I had to adapt my artwork to the clients' needs and as an entrepreneur I had to adapt my pitch to the potential customers' needs. "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." -- Charles Darwin. I chose the path as an entrepreneur because it made me feel more creative-focused, having to innovate within a business' constraints and scope, yet broadly-competent, having to pick up new skills every day. 

What makes Singapore home?: Family. That's the first thing that comes to mind because they are my most loyal fans, in both good times and bad. Second, the freedom in opportunities I have here. Call me idealistic, but I do believe Singapore beats America as a land of dreams, especially so for women in a minority group.

Where is your favourite place in Singapore?: Craftsmen coffee, 5 minutes away from Siglap Starbucks. And Level 33, 5 minutes away from MBS Ku de ta. I go for authenticity in experience.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?: The government definitely has more money now, and I can see how that contributed to my personal growth through scholarships to go overseas, subsidies to take private design courses at night, building the start-up ecosystem that I am part of, grant investments in starting a business, free events, so on and so forth.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?: Clearly, we have more women in the workforce today. Though I wished there would be as many female leaders in the workplace as there are in schools.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?: I always feel that gender discrimination is self-imposed, similar to other kinds of discrimination such as race, appearance. If this is what women conceive of what society thinks, then they need to snap out of it and make it a point to "sit on the table".


 

Rajalakhsmi Kumar 

  

Hi Rajalakhsmi, tell us more about yourself!

I balance my time as a school teacher, home-maker, mother and grandmother. Teaching tapped a hidden talent in me, which I thoroughly enjoyed and brought me to respect Singapore's education system. As a woman, exposure to a life in Singapore has helped me in the pursuit of several new and fulfilling interests - my weekday mornings are filled with activities like yoga, aqua aerobics and tai chi with my wonderful Singaporean neighbours. I hope to do advanced courses in them and teach them to others someday. I am a person with a zest for life!

What makes Singapore home?

We moved to Singapore in 1993, and it has been our home since. I'm eternally grateful for the warmth of Singaporeans and to the government that gave me the opportunity to bring up my children and provide them with the highest standard of education, safety, and good living. Here, I have the full support and comfort of exploring and cultivating my interests. Singapore's libraries are my second home, my divine space where I pursue my spiritual interests to my heart's content.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Before 1993, I lived in Singapore from 1980 - 1984. In those 3 decades, I have seen advancements in many fields, offering competitive education, world-class transportation, and enviable living standards. I always marvel at the construction industry for its smooth efficiency, and for continuously being a key provider of job opportunities for people from other nations.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Women today get equal opportunity in the working sector. My daughter enjoys her work and workplace environment. Her peers and seniors of the opposite gender openly appreciate her, which many women did not enjoy a few decades earlier. Another change I have observed in the recent past is men openly accepting the fact that their partner earns better than them. 

What is one advice you would want to share?

We have to be appreciative of the safety, good life and just governing body that Singapore has to offer. Let us as the public play our role in making and maintaining this and realise the dream of the yesteryear leaders of Singapore. I wish for the youth of Singapore to engage in voluntary work, always be filial children to their parents, and to constantly find ways to remain physically and mentally active in this technology age.


Yasmine Khater 

   Hi, tell us more about yourself!


My name is Yasmine Khater and I am an award-winning entrepreneur, world traveller, speaker and the creator of Earn 5K. I am known for whipping business owners into shape through my Earn $5K program, Fearless Bootcamp, Fearless Therapy and Fearless Luxury Mindset Retreats.

I have coached dozens of people to quit their jobs, start and scale their six and seven figure small businesses through building trust-based marketing & sales funnels, developing airtight systems and a fearless mindset. www.yasminekhater.com

What makes Singapore home?

Singapore is home because it’s where my family is and a place that constantly inspires me. I look back at all of LKY achievements and it makes me feel that anything is possible if you have a dream and a desire.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I am only 30, but I grew up abroad, so every summer when I came to visit my grandparents. I always felt I was coming into an episode of the Jetsons cartoon - Singapore seemed to be like a sci-fi movie because every year it was changing so much.

I love how visionary the country has been and continues to be and I believe that it will continue to change and evolve.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

I think gender equality is phenomenal in terms of rights, but as in most countries some women need to learn not to be shy to vocalize what they want.

What is one advice you would want to share?
Everything in life is a work a progress, whether it’s our careers, our empires or ourselves. So be patient, keep focusing on the bigger picture and anything is possible.


Radhika Pandya

    

Hi Radhika, tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a completely ordinary woman who wants to source my life from within myself - from my dreams - and not from of external forces. Following this yearning has taken me to unexpected places. I have been a teacher of Physics and Environmental studies, an activist for human rights, a conflict facilitator, counselor, a karate teacher and a writer of fiction. Next stop – meditating in a Himalayan cave.

What makes Singapore home?

Singapore is Asia and Asia is home but what makes Singapore special is the diversity and the way cultures co-exist. Nowhere is this co-existence more apparent than in the food! I love the food and I love how people don’t ask, ‘How are you? But instead ask, ‘Have you had dinner/lunch/breakfast?’

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Economically Singapore has grown more than any other Asian country, and possibly more than any other country in the world in the last 50 years. I’ve lived here for seven years and seen its physical landscape constantly change; sometimes it reminds me of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. It has grown in other dimensions too, perhaps at a slower pace, in the arts scene, opening conversations, and welcoming of sexual diversity.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

That I don’t worry about my daughter returning home alone even in the deepest hours of the night speaks a lot about gender equality. Girls have more access to things denied to them in many Asian countries. Yet inequalities persist in the higher echelons of corporation and government, in pay scales, and in expectations from mothers and wives.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Don’t listen to advice from the outside. Find a quiet spot, sit and listen to the whispers within yourself.


Jacqui Hocking

    

Hi Jacqui! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m the co-founder of “Gone Adventurin’” an enterprise in Singapore helping companies #DiscoverPurpose. It’s a unique model which uses documentary filmmaking & storytelling to enable companies to create long-term social impact for causes we care passionately about. 

What makes Singapore home?

I fell in love with this country the moment I first came here. Now, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else - there’s is something truly magical about this place. There is so much happening here, every night there is so much to do: creative events, meet-ups, screenings, fundraisers, workshops… I really appreciate how hard-working everyone is, making the most of every day. Singapore has such a strong spirit of solidarity. More importantly -, it fills me with hope to see such beautiful greenery even in the heart of the CBD!  I lLove the natural spots in Singapore, the beautiful mangrove forests, watching the turtles at the old quarry, trying to spot the beautiful oriental whip snake hidden in the trees in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or just enjoying the ocean! Did I mention Singapore is in the heart of the Coral Triangle? Lots of things to discover… I LOVE THIS ISLAND! Oh and did I mention the incredible hawker centres? It’s so nice to sit down late at night along side a bunch of uncles drinking Kopi O and sharing stories :) 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I’m lucky enough to be a part of helping to document Singapore’s Environment Story this year, which means I’ve been learning everything about the transformation of the environment here - from waste management to the river clean up. It’s incredible how far Singapore has come, and it fills me with excitement to see such a strong culture of urban gardening starting to bloom! 

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years/ What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I think it’s great that Singapore is becoming a hub for female entrepreneurs & business leaders - with the launch of female co-working spaces like http://woolfworks.sg/ and foundations like http://femalefounders.com/, for me, gender equality is well on its way here. Definitely there is still a massive gap - but I’m super optimistic about the future! As a company with 3 strong female leaders, working in a co-working space which was also founded by powerful women - I’d say Singapore is a great example of progress. >  http://singapore.impacthub.net/

What is one advice you would want to share?

There is no harm trying to achieve what you think might be impossible; - the higher you aim, the faster you’ll grow as a person or organisation. Stay passionate about what you do, and always make sure to listen & and  learn from all the people around you, then go on to make your own decisions. 


Claire Jedrek

  

Hi Claire, tell us a little bit about yourself!

There are a few sides to me that get me up in the morning! My background has always been Fitness and Sports, which lead me to being a presenter/emcee for lifestyle and motorsport. I am competing in my second season the Malaysia Championship Series, racing a Honda FD2 , representing Singapore and I am the marketing director of Singapore's first electric karting circuit, The Karting Arena (www.facebook.com/thekartingarena.com)

What makes Singapore home?

Home has been a few places for me over the years, but now that my loved ones are all based in Singapore, it most certainly holds an important place. My teen years were spent in Singapore and I've seen the change and progression of Singapore over the last 20 years. It will always hold a special depth of connection.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Change to me means progression and the ability to evolve. Singapore is ever evolving to suit the moment. As a nation we have learnt the art of grabbing opportunities and improving on them. We've had strong leaders who had vision and foresight not just economically but socially. People joke that we love to complain but in all honesty its part of our ability to rapidly adapt.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I think people put a lot of emphasis on the subject but I believe it is more important to focus on your individual skills to achieve the idea of equality. It is believed that some jobs women/men are just more interested in and/or suited for. When you see numbers change in more gender associated roles then equality will filter through. In my own world of Motorsport, there are lesser females, but I never succumb to the men are better to women theory. I don't give my self-boundaries. I set out to learn, absorb and be the best I can be as an end result, till my talent runs out. I was given an equal opportunity as any other male, it was up to me on how I approached and became part of the industry and along the way the achievements happened.

What is one advice you would want to share?

You have to be able to remember that you cannot control external factors but you can control yourself in whatever you do and life in general. How you view life around you is entirely up to you and I choose to view it positively.


 Sultana Rahman

   Hi Sultana, tell us a bit more about yourself.

I am a teacher, both by profession and passion. Our children are the future of our nation, and nurturing their development is no small responsibility. When the work gets tough and demanding, as it sometimes does, we take a step back and think about what we do. And to watch our children grow over the years, see them interacting with their peers and teachers, we get to see them develop, in character and life skills, and it makes our job worthwhile. As a teacher, my colleagues and I bear the duty of teaching students the right way of doing things so they will know how to lead our future in the right direction. And it is one we do with pride. 

Apart from my teaching career, I also love to cook and travel. Both are means to explore the world and understand the many cultures of the East and West. Food is a great means to understand a country’s history and its approach to daily life, and, if nothing else, tasty!

What makes Singapore home?

It is easy to forget the value of an efficient, hardworking, and peaceful society, when we have lived in it for a long time. For me, it is this simplicity and peace that we so often take for granted, that make Singapore home. The fact that we can spend time discussing issues such as our NS men standing on empty trains, or the difficulties that come with the occasional MRT breakdowns, is already testament to the fact that we have made it as a nation. There can be no country without issues, and with our kiasu attitudes and impulsive need to complain, we Singaporeans will definitely find issues to discuss. But to be able to live, work, play, and grow up with people of all races and religions, to send our children to school without worrying about shootings, to walk home at any wee hour of the night, and especially to turn on our taps to get fresh drinking water… we can only be thankful and be happy that this is our home. Wherever in this world I travel to, I also look forward to getting back home, as this is where all my dear memories are.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Unlike many Singaporeans who lived in Singapore’s prime housing estates in Tampines or Ang Mo Kio, I have always lived in Kampong Glam. A relatively older and more ‘relaxed’ part of town, we Kampong Glam kids enjoyed easy access to Bugis, Arab Street, Suntec City and the Concourse has always been our hangout. 25 years ago, it was a very different place; a quiet and laid back respite, we could play and run around in our homewear. It is now far from its origins, with premium condominiums, hotels and the ever-popular Bugis Junction, life here has become much more exciting. But when you look for the right places, our historical landmarks are still here - Arab St is an easy place to chill with family and friends in the evenings, Bras Basah Complex houses some of the country’s best food, and the ever popular army markets, and of course, we have one of the last few wet markets, still bustling with activity every morning with fresh produce at cheap prices.


We can say the same for the rest of Singapore. For as long as I have lived here, somewhere, somehow, there is always "Construction in Progress”. We live in a place that is constantly reinventing itself, and chasing the newest and most state of the art. Nonetheless, our traditions are never left behind, and if you look hard enough, it will always be there. We may always be evolving, but we stay true to our roots, our culture, and to what makes us Singaporean. That gives me comfort to say that we can always look forward to embracing whatever comes next.


Another thing that must be mentioned is really how differently other countries perceive Singapore now. The rise of Singapore in the past 50 years has earned respect on the international stage. And with our sincere efforts in foreign policy and goodwill nurtured over the years, we get to cross borders easily because of what our government has done. Be it travel for work or pleasure, we should be thankful for these connections.

What is one advice you would want to share?

In the words of the late Mr Lee Kwan Yew, and I paraphrase, I fear complacency. When things become better, people will want more for less work. For 50 years, life has been getting better in many aspects, and it is easy to rest on our laurels. It is the resilience of the Singaporean people that has brought this country to where it is today. The willingness to never step down, only up. To keep pushing for improvement and to be unweathered by the difficulties that comes along the way. We should have it. And more importantly, we should ensure that our children, and our grandchildren, hold true to these values. Your children, our children, are one day going to be the scientists, engineers, managers and governors of this country. For the uncertainty that lies ahead of them, let us pass on the importance of resilience: to encourage them chase their dreams, regardless of the difficulties that may lie ahead.


Ananya Jain

  

Hi, tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi everyone! My name is Ananya Jain and I am a current grade 11 student at The United World College of East Asia, East Campus. I am a proponent of women’s rights, basketball player, passionate learner, and a critical thinker. I consider myself to be an active learner in school and love to keep myself engaged in ongoing political and social issues. I love to pick up an ongoing social issue in Singapore and try to find solutions to these issues through creativity, critical thinking and resilience. I am also a big believer in making every day count, so I always try to keep myself engaged in the little I can do to help through community service, volunteering, and social interaction with the local community. Being part of the team of Project Aspire with Singapore Committee for UN Women, I have been actively involved with programmes that aim to educate the youth about women’s empowerment and social entrepreneurship. These programmes not only engage the Singaporean youth, but create a socially engaged society where all women and men are treated equally. I believe that charity starts at home and that contributing to society, builds a unified nation, like Singapore.

What makes Singapore home?

Having lived in Singapore for the past 15 years, I consider this unified nation as my home. Cultural diversity, belonging and security are just a few of the features that make me feel so attached to Singapore, my home. Singapore is a multi-racial society where it stands as a home to all languages, religions and cultures. The idea of belonging and ownership is highly prevalent in Singapore where the government creates a safe and secure environment where the country belongs to we, the people. This idea motivates myself to remain as an active citizen and engage in providing a sense of generosity and happiness in the atmosphere through the little I can offer. Being brought up and raised here, I have learned to appreciate Singapore’s growing culture and heritage, and the feeling of belonging and unity is what makes Singapore my home. I am Singaporean, and I am proud to call it my home.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Being a Singaporean, I believe that our country has not only evolved greatly since its independence, but has become a unified and culturally diverse nation. Singapore’s slogan goes as ‘One People, One Nation, One Singapore’, and I believe that this slogan stands by our country’s reality, because not only does it create a unified nation, it creates a sense of independence that our people hold in considering Singapore as their home. Our shared values are portrayed on the National Pledge where we all believe in unity and how no one should be discriminated by their race, skin color of language. This nation has not only evolved ethically, but also financially where it is one of the leading countries in providing employment for many. 

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

The national flag represents equality twice, once through the red color, which represents equality, and second trough the stars, that represent democracy, peace, progress and justice. Being a feminist, I believe that gender equality in Singapore has substantially improved and the inequality gaps between men and women have reduced. On one hand, without the physical and mental work of both men and women, the Singapore economy would never have flourished to the state it is today, the GDP and total output are a combination of the work of both men and women. I believe that the government is making a conscious effort to reduce the gender gap through the fields of education, healthcare, equal pay. However, gender inequality still exists, as women are not paid as well as men in occupations that have been well dominated by men; like engineering, banking and medicine. The reality is that women are still underrepresented at management levels and their capability is neglected. However, the Singaporean government is making a conscious effort to reduce the gender gaps in Singapore and I believe that the social stigma associated with women will reduce in the following years.


 Ameya Rao

    

Hi, tell us more about yourself.

My name is Ameya Rao, I'm 16 years old and am about to begin 11th grade at United World College of South East Asia. I'm originally from Toronto, Canada and have spent most of my life abroad, growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore. I am an avid writer and lover of all things Beyoncé., Iin my spare time I enjoy doodling and fighting for women's empowerment with the UN Women team!

What makes Singapore home?

 This is a question us TKC'S (Third Culture Kids) hope to avoid. Home could be an array of places ranging from Hong Kong to North America and over the years I've learned to accept Home for where my immediate family is, growing to love this cultural melting pot was a bonus. 

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I moved to Singapore in the summer of 2008, in just seven years I've been able to see Singapore grow and flourish tremendously, and to extrapolate along fifty years just reiterates the huge extent to which Singapore has developed. 

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I believe what makes Singapore so progressive in comparison to its South East Asian neighbours is that from such an early stage Singapore recognized that gender equality was a key step in its economic development. Today's issue is not the number of women in the workforce, it's the lack of women at senior management levels. s, and However, I believe that with the right mind-set and a coalition of the willing,  I believe this can be changed. 

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience? 

Don't let anyone tell you who you are, and most importantly don't let anyone tell you who you aren't. 


 Shona Graham

  

Hi! Tell us more about yourself.

Hello! My name is Shona, I'm 16 and I work with the UN Women Youth Team in Singapore. I've lived in Singapore for 11 years, but prior to Singapore I lived in India and Dubai.

What makes Singapore home?

I consider Singapore home because all my first memories are from Singapore due to the fact I moved here at a very young age. It's all I've ever known, and I have made friendships here that will last a lifetime.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

In the last 50 years, Singapore has gone from a new nation just standing on its own, to one of the most powerful business cities in the world. Also still being such a relatively new nation, it has made progress that other nations didn't make for centuries. The drive and hardworking nature of Singapore is the reason why it is thriving today.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

Gender equality has clearly progressed in Singapore from its independence in 1965. Some major accomplishments started as early at 1989, with guidelines being set against gender discrimination in advertisements. Even though I am extremely grateful to the organisations that continue to fight against gender discrimination and sexual exploitation of women and girls, does not mean that it no longer exists.

What is one advice you want to share?

Some advice for the audience specifically about gender equality in Singapore is that we should be proud of the achievements it has made for gender equality. However, there is still more everyone can do to help stop gender discrimination and sexual exploitation in Singapore.


 

Nichol Ng

 

Hi Nichol, tell us more about yourself.

I am first and foremost a mother to 2 beautiful girls ( 10mths & 2.5y/o )

A wife to my exuberant and active hubby

An entrepreneur and business owner of 4 companies in food distribution with an estimated turnover of 40million.

Managing Director or FoodXervices Inc , Groxers Inc , LogiXtics LLP & Plotx LLP

Philanthropist - Co-founder and CFO ( Chief Food Officer ) of the Food Bank Singapore which was established in 2012.

President of ONE SINGAPORE

Founding Member of SEDS – Support For Eating Disorders Singapore

Board Member of the Tan Tock Seng Medifund board

The First born in a small family of 4 people, I have been quite an active student leader since my kindergarten days. As you can see till date, I am still very active on top of managing companies and households, I feel extremely blessed to be able to contribute back to society as well.

What makes Singapore home?

The reason is simple, despite the imperfections, Singapore is where my family is and this is a big reason why this is home.

Secondly, and also quite importantly, Singapore has given me the room and opportunity to pursue my dreams as a female in a secure and equal environment.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Being only 37, I cannot comment on the full 50 years.

But from the Courtesy campaigns to CTE,PIE,ECP,ERPS, Singapore has actually

Blossomed and matured into a more open(&interesting) environment not just for tourist to visit but for their citizens mature alongside with the country.

Importantly, I feel that Singapore has our own unique brand identity which is a culmination of 50 years of nation building.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

From 3rd world to 1st world, definitely the opportunities and equality has improved vastly.

I feel that just like many developed countries, there is sometimes still a glass ceiling for women leaders. And also women are often demanded to juggle family and career equally well. However, I also feel that “glass” is something that can be shattered, its just a matter of how you want it to be broken and at times changing some ways of working etc esp within an Asian society.

But definitely, there is no lack of opportunities for women here and I believe little girls has equal opportunities as little boys here for sure.


 Tan Hsiu Li

  

Hi Hsiu Li, tell us more about yourself.

I like psychology and love art but was not very good at drawing. Art therapy is an allied health profession with a marriage of both psychotherapy and art,that was when I knew this is the profession for me.

Art therapy provides a psychological safe containment for anyone to explore their issues with the therapist, externalising their thoughts into tangible artwork as the therapist process with them. It has been my honour to journey with the different people of all walks of life as they shared their life with me through art. In Australia, I enjoyed working with children with PTSD/Anxiety and other issues. Locally, I worked with different population such as people recovering from substance abuse/addiction, older adults and elderly with early – moderate stage of dementia, caregivers of persons with dementia, single women with life stresses, women and children affected by domestic violence.

With regards to my personal life, I am really fortunate to have supportive family members and a wonderful husband. After working in corporate life for many years, I realised that I do not want to lead a life of ‘what if’. I decided to make a conscious choice of doing what I like to do, thus I joined the pool of helping professionals, as an art therapist in Singapore. And till to date, I have not regret my choice and have been enjoying every single moment.

What makes Singapore home?

We are living in a country where we are fortunate to have education, medical and safety. We are indeed lucky that we are able to shop at night, walk alone at night or not having to worry about our safety. While I was studying in Australia, I realised that we took our safety for granted when the rental flat I stayed in was broken in; my laptop and cash were all stolen.

Singapore is my home to me in my heart because this is the place I grew up to, the place where I had all my memories. Home is the place where my grandparents have planted their roots, where we grew our fruits and nurture the younger generations to come. For me, I love local food and our lovely garden city.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore has gone through many changes for the past 50 years. I still recall when I was young; I used to hang around the Jalan Besar area where my grandfather owned a barbershop. The neighbours were very close to each other and we will watch out for each other. The children can go to anyone’s house during the day, and during the festive seasons, they will share food among the families.

Since I was a child, I saw how Singapore’s transportation, education, technology, employment and the overall economy has improved tremendously

What is one advice you would want to share?

I realised more and more people in Singapore are getting angry or frustrated easily. I recalled one of the taxi drivers sharing with me that he became hot tempered after he started driving taxi.

I do hope that people staying in Singapore can be more considerate, compassionate, and empathetic.


 Nicole Mak

  

Hi, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am Nicole Mak, a General Education Officer to little angels of age 7-12. In Singapore, I am known as their "cher" (colloquial term for a primary school teacher). I have been in the teaching service for 17 years and each day, month, year passes by colourfully adorned by the numerous little angels who come into my life. There is never a lacklustre day at work thus far! What makes me ME? I am a workaholic, a full-time mum to my 4 year old son. I dabble in floral creations, baking, cooking and decoupaging old stuff....Life is too boring not to have a hobby or even a few in fact!

What makes Singapore home?

Friends, family and Singlish! Local hawkerfare like Laksa, Mee Siam, Hainanese chicken rice and Rojak is my personal favourite.  I have been blessed with spending 40 years of my being in Singapore.  Each decade holds a certain significance to me, in the 70s where the dining by beach eating satay from the original satay club was fun, in the 80s where courtesy campaigns were held in schools, in the 90s where collecting saga seeds with friends was a norm and in the millennium where technology and progress soared sky high!   The tinge of nostalgia hits me and allows me to realise home is where I grew up in.  Home is where all things familiar are - Singapore.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

We have come a long way, from a third world country with no natural resources to a first world nation with its strength hidden in her people.  Singapore is more tolerant and open to discussions with respect to different moral and social issues over the years.  Singaporeans are more gracious in our multiracial and multi-faceted society too. 

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

I think in Singapore gender equality is rather balanced in the general sense.  We have a huge workforce of women and many have done well in their line of work. Girls have equal opportunity in education too!  It is not perfect yet but the gender equality in Singapore is much more favourable to us ladies than compared in many other countries.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience? 

Live life to best that you can be.  Be brave, reach out and live for yourself, for your family and for your friends!


Divya Ramesh


   Hi, tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Divya Ramesh and I'm powering through my last year of high school at the United World College of South East Asia this year. Any description about myself would be incomplete without any mention of performing: I am a passionate dancer, singer and actor and hope to take on a career in these fields professionally. Other than that, I also enjoy studying chemistry, own a vast collection of colored socks, am a devoted Grey's Anatomy fan, and believe that all people deserve equal opportunity and should be allowed to live without fear.

What makes Singapore home?

I moved to Singapore from Hong Kong eight years ago, and though these two countries have completely different vibes, I was able to adjust to life here easily. What makes Singapore home is the sheer comfort and safety I feel when I'm walking down a street late at night, the omnipresence of nature that is a constant escape from the materialistic and technological aspects of life, and of course, the endless food options!

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?
From a third-world country producing goods that were consumed domestically to one of the most highly developed market economies in the world, Singapore has undergone a complete economic transformation. Even so, I have seen significant progress during the time I've lived here: Singapore looks at advancement, but looks to do it in a green way that minimizes waste and promotes cleanliness, for example, the construction of Marina Bay Sands- a hotel that makes use of natural light, rain water and ultimately cuts down on energy use through advanced technologies.

What are your thoughts about gender equality in Singapore?

I think on a cursory level, a working woman is perceived as just as valuable as a working man in Singapore. Both genders also have equal access to jobs and education too. However, one aspect that hasn't progressed is the approach to household duties. It is still seen as a woman's job to take on parenting activities, and this is made clear by the decrease in employed women in their 30s. Lee Kwan Yew once said "wives cannot alone carry the burdens of managing the home", and I think that only once we fully get rid of these expectations will we travel further along the pathway to complete gender equality.

What is one advice you would want to share?

Abraham Lincoln said "The best way to predict your future is to create it". It reminds me to take charge of my own life, and that only I am responsible for it. I may not be able to control what happens to me, but I can control how I react to those things. 


Cheryl Tay

Photo credit: Seah Chuan Heng

  

Hi Cheryl, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a PhD student at Nanyang Technological University researching paddling synchronisation in teamboat sprint kayaking. Growing up I've always enjoyed sports but never thought it would be my career. I fellin love with kayaking at age 16 and since then, I've represented Singapore in Canoe-Kayak sprint and Dragon Boat racing. Sport can be a huge positive influence to our lives and I hope to spread that messageby coaching the next generation of paddlers.

What makes Singapore home?

Just because it is ours. "Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is theirown." (Seneca)I'm extremely proud of who we are as a people, and also immensely indebted to the earlier generationswho made Singapore what it is today. The odds were against them, but they came together and made ithappened.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I'm making a guess since I've only lived for about half of those 50 years. In terms ofdevelopment as a country, "From Third World to first" nicely encapsulates our progress. One thing I hope we've retained is that fighting spirit to defy all odds.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

I will comment on sport since this is an area I'm most familiar with. I think there are definitelymore opportunities for girls and women to participate in sport now. More importantly, societyis becoming more accepting and celebrating the athletic female, or as the mantra goes,"Strong is the new sexy".

What is one advice you would want to share?

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for (John Augustus Shedd).


 

Zoe Adamapoulos


  

Hi, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Zoe Adamopoulos, I'm 16 years old and currently studying in Singapore. I've been a summer intern at the Singapore Committee for UN Women for the past five years, and I am President of our own UN Women Singapore Youth Team, where I run our social entrepreneurship challenge directed for Singapore youths, Project Aspire: 5 Minutes to Change the Nation.

What makes Singapore home?

As a mixed race "halfie" (as we call ourselves), it can be difficult to identify with a specific background or culture; I don't live a completely Greek-American or Chinese-Singaporean lifestyle. However, the part about Singapore that makes it so culturally diverse and international is where I feel most at home, and I have identified with that for my whole life living here.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore's growth as a country is exceptional. The amount of changes and improvements that occur just in five years is astonishing, but to span it in 50 years is incredible. You can't find any other nations that have built up as strong global and economic foundation as Singapore has in such a short time. 

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

As a first-world country, Singapore doesn't necessarily encounter as alarming issues as other Southeast Asian nations. Nevertheless, there will always be gender inequality in some shape or form, whether in terms of domestic workers abuse or economic and workforce empowerment. However, I would say that to live in a country as progressive as Singapore, the issues of gender inequality will improve as long as people stand for the right ideals and principles.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

I think that if you are given the opportunity to change people's lives -- whether it's doing a service trip, working at an organisation, etc -- you should always take the chance because it improves your life as well as others. And having these experiences, especially the younger you are when you start, build you up to become a very well-rounded and caring individual, and that really makes you stand out.


Selina Gan

  

Hi Selina, tell us more about yourself.

I would like to think that I am someone who is hardworking, modest and positive. I am a mum to my daughter, Amanda and son, Timothy, whom I love completely and unconditionally.  I come from a very large close and loving family, and both my parents were immigrants.

The biggest part of my working life was in the Corporate World and I never thought I would ever join the non-profit sector.  My work in SCWO (the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations) is fulfilling, and I am so proud to be part of the team that I work with.  To be able to work with dedicated volunteers (some who have been with us for more than 10 years), and many inspiring women is the icing on the cake. It is being with SCWO that made me a see a whole different side of our community and gave me hope in humanity.  I have met many kind and generous people who do so much good, and who don’t need or want the recognition or applause.

What makes Singapore home?

One word…. “Family”!  It is said that “Home is where the heart is!”  I enjoy travelling, seeing new places, meeting new people, learning about new cultures.  But after a lovely trip, when the plane comes in to land at Changi International Airport, there is a sense of relief and of delight, that I am Home.  This is a relationship that has been built up over many many years.  I know its strengths and I know its weaknesses, the good and the bad – and I feel comfortable and safe here.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I was young when Singapore was going through its tumultuous period of racial riots etc, and I remember the fear and chaos that it brought.  I remember non-air conditioned buses, eating ‘ice balls’ after school, and buying noodles from the street hawker. 

Now my children will only remember pristine Streets, Mega Shopping Malls and Food Courts.  They have only lived in the peaceful years, enjoy the feeling of being safe and having anything and everything readily available.  They know that they have a voice and have been taught how to use it, and my wish for them is that they use that voice with integrity and respect.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Considerable progress has been made e.g. in the areas of education (women’s educational attainment on a par - if not above – with that of men), employment (female labour force participation has been steadily increasing), violence against women & protection of the rights of women (Women’s Charter in 1961), as well as in recognising the formal equal status of men and women.  2015 marks the 20th anniversary of Singapore’s ratification of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) in 1995.

However, gender gaps in Singapore still exist, and there are e.g. still fewer women in decision-making positions than men despite women’s rising educational level and attainment. Women are still not paid the same as men for the same job, and lion’s share of household responsibilities still rests with them despite women going out to work.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Not my words, but a quote that could have come right out of my mouth: 

Life is short, Live it,

Love is rare, grab it,

Anger is bad, dump it,

Fear is awful, face it,

Memories are sweet, cherish it.


 Dipna Lim-Prasad

Photo Credits: Danny Toh

  

Hi Dipna! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello!! My name is Dipna and I’m 24 this year. Since graduating from Nanyang Technological University last year, I’ve been a full time athlete, representing Singapore in Sprints and Hurdles. I also double up as a coach and personal trainer, and enjoy baking in my free time.

What makes Singapore home?

Everything! It is my family and friends, it is also the aunty who smiles in surprise when she realises I can speak Mandarin and grills me about my heritage (Chinese-Indian), and the uncle who asks just how I managed to grow so tall (long beans, maybe?). It is the delicious food, the bustling streets, and the constant chatter. Singapore is home because this is where I grew up, and it is where my heart is.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

Singapore is constantly evolving. We can easily see how our pioneer generation moulded this city into what it is today, just by observing our ever changing skyline. But when we look deeper, socially, I feel that we have learnt to embrace just how multiracial and multicultural our society is by working as one people, one nation and finding strength in our differences.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

In my opinion, Singapore is a country where even in traditionally male dominant industries, we seldom notice a stark difference in gender representation. We have also recently seen many barriers drop in recent years–the lifting of the quota that limited the number of female medical students in NUS, for example.

What is one advice you would want to share with the audience?

Do not limit yourself. Dream big, work hard, and be patient.


Katrina Dick

          

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Katrina, tell us more about yourself.

Forty two year old goofball who refuses to behave appropriately, with a side serving of repulsion at inequality in all it’s forms, originally from Australia but still loving the adventure of never quite finding my place in the world with a knack for creating appallingly bad Birthday cakes. 

What makes Singapore home?

Being here makes Singapore home! Having my immediate family here makes Singapore home. My friends, work and passions make Singapore home. Way too much stuff in my flat makes Singapore home. I am a firm believer in ‘wherever I and my family are, is home’. Enjoying and liking the place just makes it easier to do.

How do you think Singapore has changed in the past 50 years?

I can only comment on my personal experience of Singapore from when I lived here for the first time in 1996. There is more openness to discuss social issues, more pockets of creativity, exploration and a willingness to make mistakes. There seems to be more acceptance of diversity and although the discussions can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, to me it is one of the biggest changes that I have noticed in Singapore and that I think will shape Singapore in years to come.

How do you think gender equality has progressed in Singapore over the past 50 years?

Gender equality in Singapore is a really tricky one for me. Compared to so many places in the world, equality between the genders in Singapore is looking pretty good. Lots of women in the workforce, the Women’s Charter for legal protections, girls’ equality in access to education. There is no doubt that there have been fantastic leaps forward for gender equality in Singapore enshrined in the laws as well as changing attitudes over the past 50 years.

But, and there usually is a ‘but’ on this issue, there is a long way to go. Like so many places where gender equality is improving, the women living on the margins face more inequalities than most. 

For Non-Singaporean women who live, work and marry in Singapore gender inequality is still very real. Female Foreign Domestic Workers do not enjoy the same rights as any other workers, even their male foreign worker counterparts. Foreign brides do not have the legal rights of other married women. Women working in the areas of entertainment and sex work face inequality and discrimination everyday. As is currently in the news, single Mothers face inequalities in the way they are viewed and what they are entitled to. 

I do believe, I have to believe that Singapore, like much of the world is slowly moving forward on the issue of gender equality but that there is still much work to be done – by everyone, for everyone.



Annual General Meeting is here!

Posted: 2015-06-18

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From the local to the global level, women’s leadership and political participation are restricted. Women are underrepresented as voters, as well as in leading positions, whether in elected office, the civil service, the private sector, or academia. 

One of the core pillars of UN Women is women's leadership and participation. As such, equality in voting and decision making is part of the DNA of Singapore Committee for UN Women's governance structure. Every year, at our Annual General Meeting we invite Members to join us to hear our President's Update, receive our Annual Report,  and vote on important decisions facing our organisation. 

On Thursday, June 18 we need your participation and your voice. Join us for the Annual General Meeting dinner at 7pm. Not a Member? Becoming a Member is a simple process and we encourage all non-Members and lapsed Members to sign up here


Standing up for women's empowerment means not only advocating for equality in representation and leadership, but actually making sure all of our Members', male and female, voices are heard. Rarely do we have a forum to gather all of our Members in one place to discuss ideas, concerns, and thoughts about our organisational direction, so please do update your Membership status and RSVP to join the Annual General Meeting today. 

 

Please see the formal invitation below. 


 

INVITATION
 
Dear UNIFEM Members,
 
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (Singapore Chapter) (“UNIFEM Singapore”) will convene its17th Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 7pm at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, details of which are set out below. Full dinner buffet and drinks will be served.
 
 National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC)
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
Room MPH2
#04-88 The Central
Singapore 059817

Upon arrival. please proceed to unit #04-88 and take the escalator down to Level 3.

Agenda
1. Registration will commence at 6:30pm 
2. Welcome Address by Executive Director at 7:00pm
3. President's Report on 2014
4. 2015 Calendar of Events
5. Confirmation of Minutes of 16th Annual General Meeting

6. Vote on Resolutions (see Notice of 17th Annual General Meeting below)
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 
Trina Liang-Lin
Sharon Tan Poh Choo
Jacqueline Loh
Jasmine Quek
Sheela Parakkal
Georgette Tan
Debra Soon
Claire Ngo
Karen Loon
Christina Liew
Archana Parekh
Harpreet Kaur


OFFICE TEAM 
Pia Bruce
Mellisa Chong
Mrinalini Venkatachalam
Amra Naidoo
Soha Yassine
Caitlin Jung
Dora Lincoln 

 

Click here to RSVP

 

 
 
 
Notice of the 17th Annual General Meeting

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the 17th Annual General Meeting of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Singapore Chapter) (“UNIFEM Singapore”) will be held at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, Room MPH2, #04-88 The Central, Singapore 059817 on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 7pm, for the purpose of considering and, if thought fit, passing, with or without modifications, the following resolutions:
 
AS ORDINARY BUSINESS
1. To receive and adopt the Treasurer’s Report of Audited Accounts for Financial Year Ended 31 December 2014. (Resolution 1)
2. To appoint Ho Ren Hua as an Executive Committee member for 2015/2016 until the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting in 2016. (Resolution 2)
3. To re-appoint Lo Hock Ling & Co as the Auditors of UNIFEM Singapore and to authorise the Executive Committee to fix their remuneration. (Resolution 3)
4. To transact any other ordinary business which may properly be transacted at an Annual General Meeting.

Ms. Jasmine Quek
Honorary Secretary
Date: 26 May 2015
 
Notes: 

Any member who wishes to place an item on the agenda of the Annual General Meeting may do so, provided that she/he gives notice in writing to the Secretary ten (10) days before the date of the meeting (that is, by 7:00pm. on Monday, 8 June 2015).

An Institutional Member shall be represented at the meeting by its duly appointed representative. The appointment of the representative shall be made in writing and signed by an officer of the Institutional Member and deposited at the office of UNIFEM Singapore not less than forty-eight (48) hours before the time for the holding of the meeting (that is, by 7:00 pm. of Tuesday, 16 June 2015).


Valencia Club de Futbol and UN Women kick off partnership to promote gender equality

Posted: 2015-06-03

 

New York (26 May, 2015) – Today at UN Headquarters, Valencia Club de Fútbol (CF) and UN Women are to announce their partnership in support of UN Women’s mandate to promote and support gender equality across the globe. For the first time ever, UN Women will collaborate with a professional sports team. The organization’s logo will be featured on the back of the Valencia CF players’ jerseys when they play in European competitions such as the Champions League, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football. Valencia CF clinched a Champions League qualification just three days earlier. In addition, as part of the partnership, special matches and soccer clinics will take place over the next four years throughout Spain, the Americas and other parts of the world. 

Launching the partnership, Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “UN Women is dedicated to bringing more men and boys into the gender equality conversation. Valencia’s players are strong role models who will lead by example and inspire their vast fan base. We are excited to have Valencia show its support during every match played, with the cause prominently displayed to fans and viewers around the world.”

With high-profile public advocacy initiatives such as HeforShe, UN Women seeks to engage men and boys across the globe as agents of change. 

 

Chairwoman of Valencia CF, Lay Hoon Chan, the first woman ever to hold this role in the club’s 96-year history, and the only female Chair of a club in the top Spanish league (Liga BBVA), adds: “We are honoured to work alongside UN Women and the global community to support and bring awareness to such a remarkable cause. This is a long-term commitment to really help make a difference to expand advocacy efforts towards gender equality. It’s not only a women’s issue, it’s a human rights issue that Valencia CF strongly believes in.”

The entire Valencia CF first team, including superstars Dani Parejo, Shkodran Mustafi, Paco Alcacer and Alvaro Negredo, as well Valencia CF Executive President, Amadeo Salvo, and Valencia CF Ambassador Mario Alberto Kempes are to kick-off the partnership in New York. David Villa, the current superstar of Major League Soccer (MLS) New York City FC and former Valencia player, and the President of La Liga, Javier Tebas, are invited as special guests.

Valencia CF will introduce their new jerseys when the team travels to Columbus, Ohio to play the MLS team Columbus Crew on 27 May, 2015. As one of the biggest and most successful clubs in Spain and throughout Europe, Valencia CF’s role as a UN Women partner will bring awareness of the shared commitment to gender equality to new audiences.

 

Follow the conversation on Twitter via #unwomenvalenciacf, @UN_Women and @valenciacf.

Photos will be available here shortly after the launch event.

About Valencia Club de Fútbol:

Valencia Club de Fútbol is one of the most recognizable brands in European football. The 96-year-old club have won six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey trophies, two Fairs Cups, one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and two EUFA Super Cups. They also reached the finals of UEFA Champions League in 2000 and repeated the feat a year later. In 2004, it topped the “Club World Ranking” of the International Federation of Football History & Statistics.

Off the pitch, Valencia CF is well-known for its strong fan base. The unflinching loyalty of Valencia CF fans to their club is known across the globe. For the 2014-2015 season, Valencian fans won the coveted prize for the best fans in La Liga, awarded by Aficiones Unidas and the Liga de Fútbol Profesional.



Support Nepalese relief in honour of a loved one

Posted: 2015-05-01

 Honour your loved one and donate to Nepal 
 

 Make your donation a gift! 

Have a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion coming up? Honour the one you love by funding women's empowerment with an e-card.The card will let her know you honoured him/her by providing essentials for Nepalese earthquake survivors. 

---- ALL E-CARD PROCEEDS WILL BENEFIT NEPALESE EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS---

Email azialyce.fuad@unifem.org.sg your donation receipt and personalised message and we'll start working on a customized Mother's Day card for you right away. You will receive the card within 12 hours. You can make your donation to UN Women relief efforts in Nepal. 


Change starts small. Something as simple as one gift can show women in Nepal that they're not alone.


Sample cards

    

 
      

E-cards are available for all occasions! Interested? Contact azialyce.fuad@unifem.org.sg and we'll begin working with your on the perfect card for the person you care about. 

Related links:

http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/humanitarian-action/emergency-response

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/5/un-women-to-address-gender-based-violence-in-the-aftermath-of-the-earthquake-in-nepal



Progress of the World's Women Report for 2015 to 2016

Posted: 2015-05-01

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On Sunday, families around the world will pay tribute to the central role mothers play in shaping individuals, communities, and nations. Nearly every nation embraces the tradition of Mother's Day in some way, setting aside one special day of the year to honor mothers who work, often quietly and unnoticed, to achieve a world for their children where saftey, prosperity, and equality is no longer a dream but a reality.

In light of the vision of a world free of discrimination, UN Women released its flagship Progress of the World's Women Report for 2015 to 2016, unveiling a far-reaching transformative economic agenda for making women’s rights a reality.This report is special becuse it envisions what an economy would look like if it truly worked for women, and sets out a blue print for positive action.
 

The report is being published as the international community comes together to define a transformative new agenda for sustainable development, 20 years after the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, which set out an ambitious agenda to advance gender equality.

Since the Beijing Conference, significant advances have been made by many societies, particularly in advancing women’s legal rights. However, as Progress shows, in an era of unprecedented global wealth, millions of women are still consigned to work in low paid, poor quality jobs, denied even basic levels of health care, without access to clean water and decent sanitation.

Globally, only half of women participate in the labour force, compared to three quarters of men. In developing regions, up to 95 per cent of women’s employment is informal, in jobs that are unprotected by labour laws and lack social protection.

Women still carry the burden of unpaid care work, which austerity policies and cutbacks have only intensified. To build fairer, more sustainable economies which work for women and men, a future comprising more of the same will no longer do.

 

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka at the Progress Report launch in London
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks at the London launch of “Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights”. Photo: UN Women/Paul Milsom

“Our public resources are not flowing in the directions where they are most needed: for example, to provide safe water and sanitation, quality health care, and decent child- and elderly-care services. Where there are no public services, the deficit is borne by women and girls,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

“This is a care penalty that unfairly punishes women for stepping in when the State does not provide resources and it affects billions of women the world over. We need policies that make it possible for both women and men to care for their loved ones without having to forego their own economic security and independence,” she added.

Through solid, in-depth analysis and data, this evidence-based report provides ten key recommendations for actions that governments and others can take in order to move towards an economy that truly works for women, to the benefit of all.

Progress sets out a vision of a global economy fit for women, where they have equal access to productive resources and social protection, which provides them with sufficient income to support an adequate standard of living. In such an economy, the work that women do would be respected and valued; stereotypes about what women and men can and should do would be eliminated; and women would be able to work and live their lives free from violence and sexual harassment.

 
 
 

The reality, however, is very different.

The report reveals that globally, on average, women are paid 24 per cent less than men. The gaps for women with children are even wider: In South Asia, for example, the gender pay gap is 35 per cent for women with children (compared to 14 per cent for those without). Lower rates of labour force participation, gender pay gaps and lower access to pensions add to a huge care penalty for women. In France and Sweden, over their lifetime, women can expect to earn 31 per cent less than men; in Germany 49 per cent less than men; and in Turkey, an average woman can expect to earn a staggering 75 per cent less than an average man over her lifetime.

Women are clustered into a limited set of under-valued occupations. For example, 83 per cent of domestic workers worldwide are women and almost half of them are not entitled to the minimum wage. Even when women succeed in the workplace, they encounter obstacles not generally faced by their male counterparts. For example, in the EU, 75 per cent of women in management and higher professional positions and 61 per cent of women in service sector occupations have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace in their lifetimes.

An economy designed with women’s needs in mind would give them an equal voice in economic decision-making: from the way in which time and money are spent in their households, to the ways in which resources are raised and allocated at the national level, to how broader economic parameters are set by global institutions.

European Union UN Women report infographic

Women are still under-represented in economic leadership positions, from trade unions to corporate boards, from finance ministries to international financial institutions. Women’s membership in trade unions is growing in some countries, but they rarely reach top leadership positions. In 2014, across six of the most influential global economic institutions, women’s representation on their boards ranged from 4 to 20 per cent.

Through case studies and concrete examples of change from Bolivia to Botswana, Progress calls for a paradigm shift in the way governments, financial institutions, businesses and civil society approach economic policy thinking and human rights, to bring about an alternative economic agenda which places women and their rights at its centre.

“The new economic agenda that UN Women is advocating for is not a pipe dream. Many countries, including low-income developing countries, are already implementing elements of this agenda,” said Shahra Razavi, Chief of UN Women’s Research and Data Section and lead author of the report. “The kind of change we need is far-reaching, but it can be done.”

Unpaid care value in the United States

In its key recommendations, Progress underlines that with the right mix of economic and social policies, governments can generate decent jobs for women (and men) and ensure that the unpaid care work that goes into sustaining all economies is recognized and supported. Well-designed social services (e.g. health, care services) and social protection measures (e.g. pensions) can enhance women’s income security, from birth to old age, and enhance their capacity to seize economic opportunities and expand their life options.

Macroeconomic policies can and should support the realization of women’s rights, by creating dynamic and stable economies, by generating decent work and by mobilizing resources to finance vital public services. Governments need to go beyond the old metrics of GDP growth and low inflation, and instead measure success in terms of the realization of human rights.

Women’s economic and social rights – the right to a decent job, to health care and a life free from violence and discrimination – are guaranteed in human rights treaties, which almost all governments in the world have signed. Governments are ultimately responsible for delivering these rights, but they cannot do it alone. International financial institutions and the private sector are among the key players that shape the economy. They all need to be held accountable by civil society and the public, to play their part.

The changes proposed in the report will not only make the economy work for women, but also benefit the majority of men for whom the economy is not working either. The report argues that progress for women is progress for all.

To read the full report, visit: http://progress.unwomen.org/

Follow the conversation @UN_Women and #WomensProgress2015 on Twitter.



Executive Committee Member Karen Loon on women in the workplace

Posted: 2015-04-03

Ms Karen Loon, member of Singapore Committee for UN Women's Executive Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Leader of PwC Singapore spoke at a joint event with PwC and Singapore Committee for UN Women.

To mark International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2015, PwC released a new report The female millennial: A new era of talent which identifies eight key themes which are integral to the successful attraction, engagement, development and retention the female millennial. PwC surveyed 8,756 female millennials (women born between 1980-1995) from 75 countries to find out how they feel about the world of work and their career.

At the event highlighting women in the workplace, she shared some global highlights of the report including:

  • Female millennials see opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait
  • 49% of female millennials starting their careers believe they can reach the very top levels with current employer
  • Female millennials in Brazil (76%), India (76%) and Portugal (68%) are the most confident, while their peers in Japan (11%) and Germany (19%) are the least confident
  • 86% of female millennials in a relationship are part of a dual-career couple, while 66% earn the same as or more than their partner or spouse
  • But almost half say employers are too male biased when it comes to internal promotions
  • And 71% feel that opportunities are not equal for all

She also shared how the research also dispelled some significant myths, for example that women leave work to have families.

Following her talk, the latest views from our panel of successful women on the topic of developing tomorrow's female leaders where shared. Panelists were:

  • Karen Loon, Diversity and Inclusion Leader of PwC Singapore and Singapore Committee for UN Women Executive Committee Member
  • Sandhya Devanathan, MD & Head - Retail Products, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore
  • Meghan Connolly, Managing Director and Head of Personal Loans and Revolving Credit, Standard Chartered Bank
  • Georgette Tan, Group Head, Communications (Asia Pacific), MasterCard, and Singapore Committee for UN Women Executive Committee Member

The sentiment from those in attendance is that while strides have been made in this area, there is much work to be done. One attendee shared that a powerful message was delivered that day which inspired her to work more proactivey towards women's empowerment. 

Visit http://www.pwc.com/femalemillennial to download the report. 

Visit http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/hr-management-services/publications/developing-female-leaders.jhtml to download a similar report issued by PwC Australia which looks at gender bias on global mobility.   




Biz@TIP Conference presents solutions to end trafficking for second year

Posted: 2015-03-11

 

Ruici Teo, Director of Kroll South East Asia; Pia Bruce Executive Director of UN Women Singapore Committee; Darryl Delgado, Research and Stakeholder Engagement Program Manager at Verite.

Human Trafficking, an egregious crime that has enslaved millions of people, has been making itself more present in institutional processes over recent years. This March, Singapore Committee for UN Women hosted the country’s premiere conference, Biz@TIP, bringing together business leaders and global experts to tackle this important issue.

For the second year in a row, Singapore Committee for UN Women and the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons worked together to combat one of the country’s most pressing and yet least discussed issue: Trafficking in Persons (TIP).

In 2014, MP Christopher De Souza and the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons worked together to create the country’s first defining bill and set of laws against Human Trafficking. According to the Taskforce’s  initial gathering of public response, the general sentiment was that there are many indicators of labor trafficking, and the law would need to be specific about what types of indicators would come together to constitute TIP offenses, as opposed to employment law offenses. While there were calls for the Bill to include all forms of deceptive recruitment practices, others believed that the label of labor trafficking should be reserved only for the most serious cases where worker well-being was severely compromised. Many respondents commented that corporate entities should be more involved in ensuring their supply chains are free from TIP practices. Suggestions included encouraging corporations to be more transparent about their practices, making corporations accountable for the actions of outsourced partners, and imposing sanctions for malpractices within the organization and supply chain.

With this sentiment in mind, Singapore Committee for UN Women tackled the topic by creating an intimate setting for the country’s largest industries to speak freely about the specific practices their companies use when combatting trafficking in their supply chains. With these roundtable style sessions, Singapore Committee for UN Women aimed to give businesses the ability to voice their thoughts on how to entirely eliminate trafficking-related practices from their industries. Three closed door panels were created for these industries to discuss the aforementioned topics: Hospitality, Global Supply, and Technology.

 

Hospitality@TIP Panel


The discussion featured the panel offering several suggestions for how the Hospitality industry could facilitate better practices amongst their peers and aid the combatting of trafficking within the industry. One suggestion was Community Awareness for laborers, domestic workers, and agencies. Another suggestion offered was to ask the Government to provide Hospitality Human Resources material on how to educate their staff on recognizing the signs of trafficking. Their request continued with increasing the desirability of service industry jobs by targetting unemployed sectors and discussing the careers benefits and job security.  In order to answer the question “How can we best get our peers in the Hospitality Industry to follow these practices?” a member of the panel offered a success story for these peers from a “lighthouse” agency player.

 

Technology@TIP & Global Supply@TIP Panel


On March 12th, the Technology@TIP and Global Supply@TIP panels were combined to address common aspects and overlaps for the prevention of human trafficking in the Southeast Asia region. The panel started off with a discussion around the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights definition on human trafficking, moving on to simpler definitions like: “When a person is tricked, sold or forced into a coercive, highly exploitative ‘slave-like’ situation against his/her will with few options to escape.” One panelist recounted the three main components of Trafficking in Persons as the act, the means, and the purpose. Prevention of human trafficking must involve leadership on all three levels. Another continued to explain the overlap between the Global Supply and Technology sectors in trafficking in persons.  

Panelists from the Global Supply industry highlighted the benefits of legislation such as California’s recently passed Senate Bill SB 657 that requires companies to report on what they are doing to prevent human trafficking, which can be used as a reference point for the government to work with businesses. Practices used in the bill include: Companies will be required to write a code of conduct for partners they are working with; companies will be required to look at migrant worker's footprint (especially those that represent a high risk demographic); and companies must recognize the risks associated with migrant workers (such as ID retention, payment of "recruitment fees” which repeatedly lead to debt bondage scenarios, signing of contracts in languages the workers do not understand, having contracts switched upon arrival in destination countries), and find ways to avoid this (by doing due diligence deeper in their supplier chain).

Panelists speaking on behalf of the Technology industry were quick to point out that Human Trafficking is a $32 billion Industry and is especially prevalent in Southeast Asia. They aimed to reverse the notion of human trafficking being a low risk-high reward business through more frequent and company-regulated checks in the supply chain as well as the additional use of surveillance technology to scan and identify perpetrators. Suggestions included getting coders to write distress or surveillance apps to share on the Cloud or creating a campaign to get members of the public to write software for TIP prevention. They took note of how important education is both for consumers and companies. His suggestions to combat trafficking amongst the Technology Industry supply chain were to reward whistleblowers, increase the penalty, and implement a stronger support system for victims of human trafficking.

The group broke up into their respective sectors and made their own lists of suggestions to best facilitate Singaporean regulation. The technology sector group made several points, including the need for a partnership with banking sector to create bank accounts with no minimum balance that can be opened by foreign workers with or without agency help. Salaries would be paid directly into these accounts and any deductions would come from the account so there is a record if any action is taken. There was also a discussion for a public awareness campaign about laws relating to hotlines that can be called if abuse or exploitation is suspected. There were also suggestions for a technological approach, like apps for a reporting mechanism, and the need to provide a mobile phone to every foreign worker. The global supply sector group discussed the importance of increasing talks between companies and the government for implementing the best practices. Additionally, an increased need for training migrant workers upon arrival on rights and available grievance mechanisms, including resources outside of MOM was concluded.

 

Roadmaps to the Future


On Friday March 13th, the last day of the conference,  Singapore Committee for UN Women hosted its sole public BIZ@TIP event, Roadmaps to the Future. The event, moderated by Mrinalini Venkatachalam head of the Public Awareness and Youth Initiatives Department at Singapore Committee for UN Women, and featured Verite’s Daryll Delgado as keynote speaker along with Global Supply@TIP Moderator Ruici Tio to answer questions from the public on Trafficking in Persons and the future of combatting it in Singapore.

Daryll Delgado, Verite’s Research and Stakeholder Engagement Program Manager, took to the stage to discuss how Verite handles trafficking, specifically in businesses.  Daryll began her talk by showing the audience a short video of a female migrant worker who had been trafficked to Taiwan.  Verite’s work aims to use research on forced labor and trafficking to advocate for global policy change. When it came to the topic of Human Trafficking, Daryll Delgado was quick to emphasize that no one is immune – if a country has migrant workers, there is already a red flag. Through Verite’s research, they have found that migrant workers are much more vulnerable than local workers, and that labor brokers can be involved in many phases of the recruitment: selection, hiring, and return cycle. Despite this, Delgado has stated companies are now addressing forced labor and trafficking risks more openly through conducting risk assessments, building capacities, and adopting anti-trafficking policies. In the past, companies were not used to being open and monitored. But in recent years, they have opened up to NGOs and to being audited. Social auditors were not trained in auditing labor practices in the past, but now an increasing number of them are.

 

Moving Forward


Upon receiving favourable feedback from attendees, panellists, and businesses, there are several plans to implement new initiatives for Singapore Committee for UN Women. These plans include workshops that focus on adopting commonly used fair-hiring toolkits and feature ethical suppliers. Further initiatives that we have already started implementing include industry specific discussions, showcasing best practice case studies and potential collaboration opportunities. We have already planned follow ups with several companies that attended Biz@TIP to discuss the suggestions that were mentioned over the panel.

 


To learn more about how you can take action to end violence against women, check out our campaigns at helpanna.com and bizattip.com.


 



5 gender gaps Singapore women still face in 2015, IWD Op-Ed by Trina Liang-Lin

Posted: 2015-03-08

 

  by Trina Liang-Lin
President
Singapore Committee for UN Women

For The Sunday Times
Published on Mar 8, 2015

Equality is represented twice on the Singapore flag. First, in the colour red symbolising the equality and universal brotherhood of man. The second, as one of the five starsstanding for ideals that also include democracy, peace, progress and justice. Though the definition of equality is complex, it encompasses gender equality - the equal rights of both men and women.

The transformation of Singapore in the last 50 years has occurred on two distinct and equally important planks - physical landscape and people. Without the transformation of Singapore’s people - both men and women - entering the workforce, the physical landscape would not have been so remarkably transformed. 

So the equality of Singaporean women - their equal access to education, jobs, equal pay, healthcare and protection from violence - was, and continues to be vital to Singapore's economic progress. According to Singapore's labour force statistics in 2014, the employment rate for women is at one of its highest levels - 76 percent for the prime working ages of 25 to 54. 

Many who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s can still recall how most mothers stayed at home, but occasionally worked by helping look after the family shop for no pay.

Today in 2015, the Singapore woman is often viewed as a finished product equal to her male counterpart. Women doctors, lawyers, bankers, entrepreneurs, office-workers and legislators abound. The Singapore woman is cosmopolitan, her destiny shaped not just by local culture but influenced also by an ever permeating global culture, augmented by Singapore's open economy. 

And yet, there still exists gender gaps. First, some women are still not equally paid as their male counterparts for the same job. In the 2014 Labour Force Statistics, women earn less than men in all occupational categories exceptclerical and support. In most categories, this differential is more than 10 percent. 

Second, although a roughly equal number of women enter tertiary institutions as men, there is a fall-off of employed women in their 30s owing to child rearing and care-giving. Could a mindset shift of men taking on more household duties help? For Asian households, this could be a difficult ask. But this is no ground-breaking idea. Some 25 years ago, then PM Lee Kuan Yew said, "It is not possible to have a man continue to treat his marriage as if a wife's role is the same as that in his mother's generation...wives cannot alone carry the burdens of managing the home and bringing up the children".

Even as more Singaporean women become wage earners, and breadwinners in some cases, our Asian values-based society has to evolve and become more accepting of modern life choices - that men can stay home and be the primary caregivers of families.

Third, women are still under-represented at senior management levels. To some extent this is due to point two, which results in the dwindling of the available pool of female candidates for higher positions. Companies and bosses must therefore be open-mined, consultative and creative in considering alternative work plans specifically targeted at female work-life balance. 

At the highest corporate level - that of board seats - progress has been dismal. The topic of gender quotas continues to bedivisive. Most women still prefer to be elevated for merit-based reasons. However, the lack of progress bears re-evaluating this organic strategy. According to BoardAgender, in Singapore in 2013 only 8.3 percent of SGX-listed companies have women on their boards. We are still behind our regional peers and at about half the percentages of the European Union, United States and Australia. 

Fourth, gender equality should also extend to women who come to work here. The at-times awkward and unspoken truth is that for many working women, having a domestic helper is imperative in allowing her to go to work and earn a living. Domestic helpers should be duly recognised, not just within the family - such as through better working and sleeping conditions - but by society, with stronger legal rights in the case of exploitation for overwork, unpaid wages or physical and mental abuse. 

Fifth, according to Central Provident Fund statistics, older Singapore women do not accumulate as much in CPF savings as older men. In 2013, the median CPF savings for women aged 51-54 was about $90,000 and for males, $130,000. Bear in mind also that almost a quarter of women would have left the labour force in their prime working age primarily for caregiving reasons, further affecting CPF savings. Anecdotally, many women have less control over their own or their family finances than men. With Singapore women's life expectancy longer than their male counterparts, financial education over a woman's lifespan, particularly in her golden years, will become more crucial. 

As we celebrate International Women's Day and as Singapore turns 50, my hope is that women here will continue to fight for their equality and will not be afraid to ask and confront tough gender questions and environments. For only with gender equality, will the other Singapore ideals - democracy, justice, freedom and peace - be fully realised.

 

Originally featured by The Straits Times on 8 March, 2015.

 



Project Inspire is turning five

Posted: 2015-03-07

Project Inspire celebrates 5 years of supporting social entrepreneurs impacting women and girls around the world

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2015, Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard announced the annual launch and call for submissions for Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World. Celebrating five years of supporting young social entrepreneurs around the world, 2015 promises to be an exciting year.

With over 1,800 ideas submitted from 72 countries around the world, Project Inspire is now a multi-award winning initiative and one of the most high profile CSR programs in the Asia/Pacific region. This year’s challenge welcomes back long-term and committed partners to women’s empowerment and social entrepreneurship: knowledge partner INSEAD: The Business School for the World; strategic partner Bain & Company; & supporting partner Hilton WorldWide. Project Inspire 2015 also welcomes new supporting partner, Top3 Media.

Launched in 2011 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of MasterCard in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, “Project Inspire: 5 minutes to change the world” is a global challenge that presents 18-35 year olds with a 5-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea to the world. With a US$25,000 Grand Prize and US$10,000 Runner-Up Prize on offer to make their idea a reality, Project Inspire 2015 will take on the theme of ‘Technology or Design for Economic Empowerment’. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate how they use design or technology as a tool in the work they are doing to enable and empower women economically throughout Asia, the Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

“Celebrating five years of Project Inspire is a milestone that I am incredibly proud of. The strong partnership with long standing partner and co-founders, MasterCard as well as the much welcomed support from INSEAD: The Business School for the World, Bain & Company, Hilton WorldWide and Top3 Media are a testament to how much the competition has grown, and continues to grow over the years,” says Trina Liang-Lin, President, Singapore Committee for UN Women. “The impact that we’ve seen since 2011 through the competition for women and girls around the world, has truly cemented Singapore as the perfect environment to profile and catapult young social entrepreneurs on a global stage.”

Georgette Tan, Group Head, Communications, Asia/Pacific, MasterCard, adds, “It’s vital that more is done to empower and encourage women to break the glass ceiling in the traditionally male-dominated fields of technology and design. Careers in these fields afford women the opportunity to be financially self-sufficient and positively impact the world through their leadership and creativity. MasterCard is incredibly proud to partner with the Singapore Committee for UN Women and witness the impact Project Inspire has already had in just five years. We are committed to supporting women of all ages and look forward to helping cultivate the next generation of young social entrepreneurs around the world in 2015 and beyond”.

Applicants must submit a five-minute video detailing how the US$25,000 grant will be used to improve the lives of women and/or girls. The competition commences on Wednesday, 25th February, 2015, and submissions can be made via the Project Inspire website;www.5minutestochangetheworld.org.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 1st July 2015. This year, Project Inspire will choose twenty semi-finalists to progress to a crowd-funding stage of the competition. From the semi-finalists, finalists will be chosen to attend the Grand Finals in Singapore where they will pitch their inspired idea to a panel of judges. The remaining semi-finalists stand a chance of winning a wild-card ticket to pitch their inspired idea at the Grand Finals in Singapore by securing the most amount of supporters during the crowd-funding stage of the competition. Winners are decided by a judging panel and will be announced at an event in Singapore on Friday, 13 November, 2015.

For media inquiries and interview opportunities, email: media@5minutestochangetheworld.org

To enter, or for more information on Project Inspire, past winners, Project Inspire alumni and judges, along with full terms and conditions, visit:www.5minutestochangetheworld.org

Join the conversation on Facebook: /ProjInspire and Twitter: @Proj_Inspire using #ProjInspire



Your Membership Benefits 2015

Posted: 2015-03-06

In addition to supporting a noble cause, your Membership entitles you to voting on important decisions at our Annual General Meeting, priority registration at our public education events, and discount offers and privileges* with our Merchant Partners listed below:

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Your 2015 Member Benefits with our Merchant Partners 

  1. ​​Zhai is offering a ​2​0% discount. Promocode required.
  2. Stones that Rock​ is offering 15% off. ​Promocode required.
  3. Mozaic Bintan Lagoon Resort​ is offering a flat rate of $120 per night for a weekday stay and $160 per night for weekend stay when you email reservations@mosaichotels.com or reservations@bintanlagoon.com. Promocode required.
  4. Hom Yoga is offering 20% off the purchase of a 10-class card (regular price $359). Present your membership card and NRIC at purchase.
  5. The Crafts Merchant ​is offering 20% off when you enter UNWOMEN at check out.
  6. Santorini is offering 20% off all regular priced items ​in store only​.​ Please provide proof of membership and NRIC at purchase.
  7. Shopback​ ​Members will receive an automatic $5.00 cashback upon first purchase. Additionally, for every first purchase from one of our members, Shopback will donate $5.00 to Singapore Committee for UN Women​. Access via https://www.shopback.sg/unwomen
  8. Shopback​ Members are also entitled to 10% cashback (instead of 6%) on Luxola products through Shopback. Access via www.shopback.sg/luxola-unwomen
  9. SkinInc Members (proof of membership required) automatically receive 10% off Skin Inc products. This IWD weekend and beyond (Mar 7 to 15), receive an extra 5% - for a total of 15% savings - at their Millenia Pop Up Store and ION Orchard locations, and 30% of your purchase will support our programmes for women's empowerment.
  10. Buy to Save: your Membership qualifies you to attend the Special Members Only Preview Sale at Buy to Save 2015 (Oct 30, Oct 31, Nov 1). Present your membership card and NRIC at entry.
*Offers valid until December 31, 2015 unless otherwise stated.
View terms and conditions published at www.unwomen-nc.org.sg/be_a_member.acvx.
Are you a member and have not received your code in your email? Get in touch Shibani at shibani.pandya@unifem.org.sg
 
Not yet a member? Sign up today!
 
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Hundreds engaged in local International Women's Day events

Posted: 2015-03-01

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March during International Women’s Year 1975. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe. Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.

Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Within Singapore, Singapore Committee for UN Women held several public and private events in honour of International Women's Day engaging over 1,500 students, corporates, and more. Highlights from such events include:

  • Singapore Committee for UN Women, in partnership with Sapient Nitro, Bloomberg and Harper's Bazaar, held a networking session for Women's Networks in major corporates to discuss the obstacles to achieving diversity in leadership
  • Ramona Pierson, co founder of Declara, spoke about the ways in which her experiences inspired her to come up with innovative ways to make education accessible to everyone through the use of technology
  • Pia Bruce and Mrinalini V. spoke to a group of students about the benfits of investing in women and increasing economic opportunities for women, thus combatting structural violence and a lack of access to equal rights
  • Ramona Pierson, co founder of Declara, spoke prior to a screening of the film 'Girl Rising', touching on the importance of access to education to create opportunities for women locally and globally
  • Ramona Pierson spoke to members of the public about her motivation to constantly innovate, the innovations that saved her life and the way in which she redefined her life.
  • Mrinalini V. and Ong Soh Khim addressed a group of engineers about Women in STEM, the importance of increasing gender diversity in the workplace and the obstacles women face when taking up careers in STEM
  • Ramona Pierson spoke at MasterCard about her life and her experiences as a marine, her accident and her consequent desire to increase the accessibility of education
  • Singapore Committee for UN Women partnered with a group of students from NTU looking to raise awareness about Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence through a film screening and post-film discussion. The discussion included a recognition of the fact that men can experience abuse as well and concrete steps members of the audience could take if they knew someone experiencing abuse.
  • AWARE organised a celebration in the park themed ‘All Fired up’. The celebration included the participation of several NGOs of which the Singapore Committee for UN Women were one and had a booth at the fair.
  • Michelle Sun (First_Code HK) and her team of volunteer computer engineers (based in SG) ran a coding workshop for girls. They learnt and used SCRATCH to practice skills which could help them build a game. Girls presented their games to the whole group and their parents. $5 was to ensure committed/attendance.
  • Members of the Public Education and Communications team were invited to speak at a year one class on PR strategies to present our work and get students to come up with creative ways to tackle some of our key PR related issues.
  • Singapore Committee for UN Women partnered with Citi Women on a panel discussion and talk on the ways in which men can support women on their career paths thus contributing to diversity within leadership. Pia Bruce, Executive Director, spoke about gender inequality in the workplace and possible avenues of collaboration with Citi.

Globally, UN Women celebrated International Women’s Day 2015 by highlighting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.

The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.

To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” Governments and activists across the world commemorated the ground-breaking Conference of 1995. We celebrate the many achievements that have come since then and galvanize action to address the gaps that still remain in making gender equality a reality.

Speeches and messages 

UN Secretary-General's Message for 2015

"When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all," says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for International Women’s Day 2015.

 

“We call on countries to ‘step it up’ for gender equality

In her message for International Women's Day 2015, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says gender parity must be reached before 2030, so that the sluggish trajectory of progress can be reversed that condemns a child born today to wait 80 years before they see an equal world. 

Read her op-ed, in which she calls for substantial change and stresses the need to frontload actions for the next five years to achieve full equality before 2030.

“Gender equality is a shared vision of social justice and human rights”
Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the High-level Thematic Debate on advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, 6 March.

 

 

"5 gender gaps Singapore women still face in 2015" O

p-ed by Trina Liang-Lin President, Singapore Committee for UN Women for The Sunday Times on Mar 8.



Hom Yoga pledges support to Help Anna

Posted: 2015-01-19



Our long-time merchant partner, Hom Yoga, is back to work ever more closely with Singapore Committee for UN Women to facilitate greater giving for empowerment programmes in the region.

Hom Yoga's focus for 2015 surrounds Singapore Committee for UN Women's Help Anna campaign, and will channel their attention towards raising awareness toward the different types of violence that women of all backgrounds experience.

Hom will rally their community to pledge towards ending all forms of violence against women - aiming to change the narrative of those who have experienced gender violence - from victim to survivor, passive to active. Together as a community, we look to drive awareness toward ending gender violence and changing the conversation from passive to active, and from victim to survivor.

 

30% of the proceeds will go to Singapore Committee for UN Women and our empowerment initiatives around the region. Water bottles are available in stores.

 

MORE WAYS TO SUPPORT US THROUGH HOM YOGA:


 I pledge to never stand by silently as women and girls experience physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, or any other form of abuse.


You can join Hom and Singapore Committee for UN Women in taking an active stance on this issue through various ways:

  1. Sign the Help Anna pledge in-store
  2. Hashtag #helpanna and take a picture of yourself in a yoga pose which empowers you, thereby taking the Help Anna pledge
  3. Participate in one of Hom's Help Anna events, thereby pledging your support towards ending violence against women. Stay tuned for details about the next event. 
  4. Purchase a Hom Yoga X Help Anna water bottle in-store. 30% of the proceeds will go to Singapore Committee for UN Women and their empowerment initiatives around the region
  5. Visit helpanna.com to find out more and take the pledge online.

 

Inspired by what Hom Yoga has done? Reach out to Caitlin at caitlin.jung@unifem.org.sg to find out how you or your organisation can #helpanna your own way.

 



Extending our impact with Girls2Pioneers

Posted: 2015-01-01

 
 
 
Last April, Singapore Committee for UN Women launched our Girls2Pioneers Campaign to encourage more young girls to take up careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). 
 
Through the course of 2014, we reached out to 3,000 girls aged 10 to 15, with a focus on those from disadvantaged backgrounds, through fun interactive day camps involving STEM career related activities like building roller coasters, designing aqueducts and many more. 
 
We also held several field trips for interested girls with our inspiring Women in STEM at Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and SaturdayKids.

We will continue the work we started in 2014 and plan to reach out to another 3,000 girls through regular field trips with several other partners like the Cancer Research Institute, Infineon and iDA.

We want to continue to build relationships between students and mentors and will explore ways in which to actively engage with employers to showcase best practices and identify obstacles to achieving gender diversity.
 
Help us achieve our goals!
Get involved by contacting us at youthteam@unifem.org.sg


2014's Top 5 Moments

Posted: 2014-12-15

At Singapore Committee for UN Women we know that our goal of creating a just world for women and girls is ambitious, some even say impossible. We believe that change, though sometimes incremental, is happening. To both celebrate and highlight this, check out our picks for the top five moments for women’s empowerment in 2014:
 
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Singaporean student invents groundbreaking eggplant electrocatalyst
17-year-old Shannon Lee invented a ground-breaking electrocatalyst that may revolutionize rechargeable batteries - a discovery that earned her one of the two 2014 Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards, and the Best of Energy & Transportation category prize. Shannon’s solution - an electrocatalyst made entirely from carbonized Chinese eggplant - greatly outperforms commercial catalysts in stability and longevity while being cheaper and more environmentally friendly to produce.
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UN Women ambassador Emma Watson launched HeForShe
Emma Watson launched the HeForShe campaign with UN Women and extended a “formal invitation” to men to participate in the conversation about gender equality. Watson’s speech struck a chord with many and fanned the feminist fire that is, slowly but surely, being reignited.
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Women advance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti (pictured), chosen to lead the CERN particle physics research centre, is the first woman to be put in charge of a top global scientific institution in the field. Meanwhile, Maryam Mirzakhani was honoured with the Fields Medal mathematics prize won by a woman for first time in history.
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Rape in India seriously addressed by leadership
India had been shamed by a recent spate of rapes, as Narendra Modi made his first Independence Day speech as prime minister. While several Indian politicians have made comments blaming women for rapes, or even worse, encouraging rape, Modi called on parents to take responsibility for the actions of their sons. “After all, a person who is raping is somebody's son", Modi said.
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Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai wins the Nobel Peace Prize
At the age of just 17, Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the prize. The teenager who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for campaigning for girls' education, captured the attention of the world. Malala said she was "honoured" to receive the award, saying it made her feel "more powerful and courageous".

Help us make 2015 another productive year for the advancement of gender equity - whether it's with #HeForShe or #Girls2Pioneers - by opting into our Monthly Donor Programme, or becoming aOne-time Donor or Member today.
 
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352 Tanglin Road #01-09/10, Strathmore Block
Tanglin International Centre
Singapore 247671
T: +65 6222 3239
F: +65 6238 6762
E: contact@unifem.org.sg


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The protection of your personal data is important to the Singapore Committee for UN Women. When you sign up to our website or events, we collect your personal data for the purposes of your involvement with us, such as volunteering, membership, donation, our managing and running of Singapore Committee for UN Women events, programs and research, and our marketing and promotional purposes. Singapore Committee for UN Women will not share your personal data with third parties without your consent. When you sign up to Singapore Committee for UN Women, you consent to us collecting, storing and using your personal data as described in this paragraph.

If you:
(a) notice an error in your personal data, or if your information has changed;
(b) wish to withdraw your consent to Singapore Committee for UN Women collecting, storing and using your personal data; or
(c) have any questions or would like more information about Singapore Committee for UN Women and your personal data,
please email pia.bruce@unifem.org.sg.