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Reflecting on YWLC’s IWD Celebrations "Embrace Her Voice" : A Beacon of Inspiration and Inclusion

On 9 March 2024, YWLC’s annual International Women's Day (IWD) celebrations focused on the theme, “Embrace Her Voice”, embodying a commitment to inclusivity and empowerment across different segments of society. This annual celebration is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the progress made in promoting gender equality and discuss the path forward. The event, organised in partnership with Visa, was a convergence of ideas, aspirations, and actionable insights aimed at fostering a more inclusive environment for all.



A Fireside Chat with Minister Grace Fu 

Starting a fireside chat with the Guest-of-Honour, Minister Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, shared her thoughts on inspiring gender equality in the workplace and at home. The fireside chat was moderated by YWLC’s Mentorship Director, Caren Tso.


She spoke about the need to open up opportunities for young women, and for women to establish trust through their performance. She also opined on the need to consider societal values, generational attitudes and corporate cultures in closing the gender gap. 



Panel Discussion: A Multisectoral Dialogue

The panel discussion was focused on empowering voices and embracing diversity across all facets of society, and brought together  three leaders from private, public, and non-profit sectors. The panel discussion was moderated by YWLC member, Chandini Manoharan.


Toyin Ope, Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Visa,  opined that many problems are due to the system of the workforce. Rahul Daswani, Deputy Director of Digital Industry Singapore shared insights on creating an inclusive environment for people development in the public sector, and his thoughts on male allyship. Kaylee Kua, Executive Director of Daughters Of Tomorrow, championed the cause of underprivileged women, urging attendees to uplift the most vulnerable.



Human Library: Personal Stories, Universal Themes

In the "Human Library" segment, participants engaged with speakers in intimate breakout sessions, which allowed for candid discussions on inclusivity. Speakers led facilitated conversations on topics ranging from inclusive leadership to navigating male-dominated environments. 


The discussions were focused around these inclusivity topics:


1) Fostering Inclusivity Practices at Workplaces  (Speaker: Toyin Ope, Head of Inclusion and Diversity, Visa)

2) Becoming an Inclusive Leader (Speaker: Anna Joke Breimer Bharati, Managing Director of The Breimer Group,) 

3) Promoting Male Allyship in Inclusivity (Sammy Elazab, Sales Director at Samsung Ads)

4) Empowering the Underrepresented Voices (Liyana Sinwan, Board Member at PPIS)

5) Breaking Inclusivity Barriers - Navigating Male-Dominated Environments (Sierin Lim, Associate Professor (Bioengineering) at NTU)

6) Breaking inclusivity barriers - Normalising and building resiliency in career shifts (Uma Thana Balasingam, Social Leader and Founder of Lean In Network SG)


In the engaging discussions, some key takeaways included: 

  • Toyin Ope shared about the power of micro affirmation and how acknowledging one’s own privilege (such as being able to attend the event physically) can encourage humility, awareness and empathy for others. Toyin also shared on how leaders at work play a crucial role in building trust and driving inclusivity within teams, and offered practical tips such as 1-2-1 sessions to understand work preferences, and regular check-ins.

  • Uma Thana Balasingam highlighted the importance of embracing career transitions and breaks with grace, and how these decisions need not be justified to others and should be seen as growth opportunities. 

  • Anna Joke Breimer Bharati shared about how we can be more inclusive leaders by keeping in mind that we will never be perfectly inclusive leaders and that it’s ok to fail, learn and try again. 

  • Sierin Lim encouraged attendees who felt imposter syndrome to give ourselves more credit and look back at how far we've progressed. She reminded attendees that they may feel like they keep hitting their limit but actually that's because their limit has grown in tandem with their growth. 

  • Sammy Elazab highlighted the importance of male allyship and explained how it could look like in action.

  • Liyana Sinwan discussed how amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities contributes to greater societal inclusivity and equity.



Building Bridges, Exchanging Insights on Inclusivity

Throughout the event, participants also adorned a collaborative wall with their vision of inclusion and views on leadership. The wall served as a vibrant testament of our collective aspirations.



As the event drew to a close, the air buzzed with renewed purpose and inspiration. "Embrace Her Voice" was more than just a celebration; it was a call to action. It urged each of us, irrespective of gender, to become champions of inclusivity in our spheres of influence.


We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Minister Grace Fu, our esteemed speakers, our generous sponsors, and all participants for making this event a success.


This year, we strengthened our resolve to proactively embrace her voice. Together, let's carry forward this momentum and continue to amplify diverse voices, paving the way for a more equitable society.



Event partner: Visa


Door gift sponsors: Aesop, Amazin' Graze, Bake King, Batiste, Church & Dwight APAC, DMK, Face Of, Greenlife, Gryphon Tea Company, HanaDolly, Hero, Hook Coffee, I'M IN, Mahjong Lah!, Nyva, RollieCo, Rosylee, Shaklee, Sigi Skin, Soap Ministry, Supergoop!, Tender Objects, The Sustainability Project



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