A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. - International Women’s Day 2021
Day in, day out, we make many conscious and unconscious decisions and choices that inevitably ripple across the different aspects of our lives. But still, there are women around the world who have yet to enjoy the autonomy and freedom we have today, and that eventually impacts the rest of their lives.
We may have come a long way from 1908, where 15,000 women took to the streets in New York protesting for shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. Yet, there are still 2.7 billion women who are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. Closer to home, Singapore women earn 13% less than men, and 4 in 10 women locally have encountered gender discrimination.
So, this year, in line with the global International Women's Day (IWD) 2021 focus, we challenged the women in our community to Be the Change. Be it taking action to close the gender pay gap, advocating for environmental sustainability, or simply voicing out your thoughts if something is not right.
Guest-of-Honour, Minister Grace Fu, started the session by sharing her personal stories and challenges she has faced as a woman:
“IWD is a good time to reflect on what women’s role should be in the workplace and in the family. Are we happy with the current situation? If not, how can we encourage change?”
The session was followed by a panel discussion with three female changemakers, and a workshop and breakout discussion facilitated by Mercer. Here are the key takeaways:
1. Take that first step and believe that your contribution can make an impact
Everyone has a different set of skills and talents – we can all contribute to the cause that we are interested in, but we have to first believe that our contribution and voice matter. You can be the very change you want to bring out, you just need to take the initiative and start somewhere.
“Be a catalyst in your team and pay it forward. When I started fundraising for ComChest, I followed my calling, and believed in the team to improve and work together. My time in the National Council of Social Services also allowed me to be involved in a whole range of social services and empower groups in need.”
- Ng Ling Ling, Minister of Parliament For Ang Mo Kio GRC At People's Action Party
2. Ask and you shall receive
Know that you are never alone, because if you meet with obstacles along the way, all you need to do is to ask for help.
“People are willing to extend a hand. Your worth is what you know you’re able to achieve, therefore don’t settle for the status quo. We may be moving forward as a society, but still have a long way to go to ensure that our daughters and the next generation will not face the challenges we have been through. Small actions will make a big difference in the long run.”
- Magda Chelly, Head Of Cyber Risk Consulting, Asia At Marsh
3. Be the change you want to see
Sometimes you may find yourself in an environment where you do not have a choice, and in those cases, you can either try to influence the situation to your favour or leave.
“There will be a lot of unlearning and relearning, understanding, and listening. There is more in us than we know, thought, or imagined. But we can be open, take the responsibility, and make the change.”
- Melissa Kwee, Chief Executive Officer At National Volunteer And Philanthropy Centre
It may feel as though we are stuck in limbo and helpless with no light at the end of the tunnel with the endless and growing number of Covid-19 cases across the world. But small actions, gestures, and mindset tweaks can and will make an impact.
Are you ready to take on the challenge and be the change, wherever you are at?
Organising Committee: Special Projects