Empowering Next-Generation Women Leaders through “Female & Fearless”
“Female & Fearless” (F&F) is one of YWLC’s Community Engagement key initiatives that aims to build confidence, leadership and digital skills to girls aged 15 to 19 years old.
Here are some details on the programme’s impact:
34 volunteers from Jul 2019 to May 2020
80 beneficiaries impacted from Jul 2019 to May 2020
Annual event to be run in November this year
Supports upper secondary and tertiary girls on their educational and career journey
Includes a human library
YWLC has worked with schools and non-profit organisations such as CHIJ, ITE, Gracehaven, Salvation Army and SHINE previously. The programme this year is expected to kick off in November, in partnership with Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School.
The team sat down with Renita, a founding member of this initiative; Shermin, a volunteer; Bliss, a student participant from F&F 2019; and Su Yi, a programme partner from Edgefield Secondary School, to find out more about their experiences being part of the programme.
How did the idea for this initiative conceive and brought into being?
Renita, Founding Member, Female and Fearless: YWLC’s Community Engagement subcommittee reaches out to less privileged groups in the community such as those living in the women's shelters, as well as mentoring tertiary-level young women prior to their entry into the workforce.
However, I noted that beyond such groups, many of our girls could also reach back to those even a little younger - in their formative years of secondary school, to encourage them on.
This would not only tap on the strengths of our talented YWLC members, but also give us a good opportunity to reach out to the community to inspire and guide young girls with valuable life advice and mindsets that they could carry with them in coming years.
What was your greatest challenge and personal takeaway spearheading the project?
Renita: Our greatest challenge and blessing was to lead a team of well over 50 YWLC ladies to assist in the different parts of the Female & Fearless process. This included our direct committee of about 15 of us, along with many facilitators, supporters and trainers who assisted on the days itself with our programme.
It reminded me that there are often many leadership styles out there, regardless of age, and when women get together, we truly are able to achieve the most wonderful outcomes.
I was glad that most of our ladies were committed and driven throughout the process. It also amazed me to see the many different skill sets and leadership qualities that our girls have, often stepping up without even asking.
This has truly inspired me to continue supporting the purpose of YWLC, and I am glad that we can keep inspiring and encouraging each other with such initiatives, whilst giving back!
What are some words of inspiration you would like to share with others considering joining or proposing an initiative?
Renita: Do not be afraid to dream or step up to serve. Always stay humble and confident enough to put forward your suggestions, and gain feedback and support from others like-minded individuals with similar passions on what you proposed. You never know what you can achieve, especially if the outcome is beneficial.
The joy and benefits that you bring to others through your initiative will be truly rewarding. At the same time, it will also help you to hone your leadership skills and make close friends along the way.
What inspired you to participate as a Human Library book?
Shermin Ho, F&F “Human Library” Volunteer:
It is my way of paying it forward. While I was in Pre-University, I did not have access to many career resources, so I stumbled into my university course of study as a result with little information to make a very deliberate choice.
It was only in university where I was fortunate to be exposed to the various career pathways available to me and received opportunities to network with industry professionals. I am grateful for the seniors who have come forward to share their insights, and in turn I am now happy to do the same for others.
I see it as coming full circle for me, and I hope to inspire more others to do the same.
What is an interesting conversation point and takeaway from the dialogue you had?
Shermin: I was surprised to hear that students still have the perception of technology careers being limited to coding. While it certainly does help to have a technical background, there are certainly many roles in tech that focus on other skill sets like consulting, data, UI and UX design, product management and project management, to name a few, and there are certainly many women in tech too!
To put it in context, only one out of four human library “books” in our Technology panel at F&F actually codes in her day-to-day job. More “Women in Tech” groups are also stepping up to break the stereotypical perception of what used to be a male-dominated industry.
It is only with adequate knowledge that students can make a more informed decision of their career choice. I see F&F as our own small way of making this information more accessible to students, broadening their horizons and showing them what else could be, as the captain of their own ships.
What were your expectations for the event and how did the programme differ or align to your expectations?
Bliss Ong, F&F Student Participant: My initial impression of the event was that it was going to be a series of lectures that I would have to sit through. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the programmes and activities planned throughout the whole day.
I truly enjoyed myself so much and I learnt so many new things, such as self-growth and how to be a better leader! It was a truly unforgettable experience that surpassed all my expectations.
Use 3 adjectives to describe your experience of the event.
Bliss: Eye-opening, sensational and heart-warming. I would be lying if I said that this is not one of the most memorable and impactful events that I have attended in my life. Being able to participate in the event was truly such an honour and it was really a stepping stone in my leadership journey.
From all the sharing from the facilitators and speakers, I could really see how everyone truly wanted to empower one another from the bottom of their hearts. This experience was truly such a heart-warming and inspiring one.
Share with us one thing you learnt and how this impacted your personal journey.
Bliss: One thing I learnt is that we can use our learnings and reflections from our past experiences to benchmark our growth as individuals and determine how to better ourselves from there on.
All in all, this event taught me that we’re stronger than we think and we’re all capable of great things! What makes the difference is how willing we are to step out of our comfort zones to push ourselves to be the best version we can be.
What impact have you seen initiatives like Female & Fearless create for students in the programme?
Toh Su Yi, F&F Programme Partner, Edgefield Secondary School: The F&F Digital edition provided students with an exciting opportunity to learn coding from practitioners who apply these knowledge and skills in their jobs at Goldman Sachs.
We conducted a survey with the students following the workshop and the feedback from the students were excellent! In the short term, it provides students with exposure and ignites their curiosity. In the long term, such initiatives could also influence participants' openness to pursue a career in this field.
What is your advice for students and volunteers considering to join future runs of the programme?
Su Yi: Keep an open mind! Stay focused and be hungry to learn. This workshop packs a punch by including both theory and hands-on activities for you to apply what you have learnt.
F&F is one of the three flagship YWLC CE programmes to give back to the community. Read more about another CE flagship programme, 100 Wishes, and its impact to residents of women's shelters and female youths in Singapore here.
We are looking for volunteers to be part of our “Female & Fearless” programme this year (tentatively scheduled for 7 November 2020). Volunteers would support the Organising Committee as event facilitators or in programme and logistics coordination. Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are keen to volunteer!
If you would like to volunteer with the Community Engagement subcommittee, please contact us here. Stay tuned to our social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) for more information on volunteering opportunities.
Please note that only YWLC members can take part in CE activities. If you would like to volunteer with us but are not a member yet, you can sign up to be a member here or find out more about membership here.
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