It takes a community to collectively groom pipeline of future women leaders: President Halimah Yacob

It takes a community to collectively groom pipeline of future women leaders: President Halimah Yacob

This article was originally published by THE STRAITS TIMES on 14 May, 2023.

SINGAPORE – Female community leaders from faith-based and secular organisations on Sunday called for role models and mentors to positively influence younger women and boost their confidence, achievement levels and well-being.

Speaking at a Hari Raya Aidilfitri event hosted by the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS) on Sunday, President Halimah Yacob said that female role models and mentors engender a “multiplier effect in society”.

“Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to collectively nurture and groom a pipeline of future women leaders,” said Madam Halimah at the event held at Furama RiverFront hotel.

The PPIS Harmony Raya event is an annual celebration that brings together women from diverse secular and faith-based organisations, to build bridges between different communities.

To jointly commemorate Mother’s Day and Hari Raya Aidilfiltri, the theme of this year’s Harmony Raya was “Women’s Greatest Role Models”, to recognise mother figures who have paved the way for future generations of women.

More than 100 female community leaders attended the event.

In her speech, Madam Halimah noted that the female employment rate has increased from 68.5 per cent in 2012 to 76.2 per cent in 2022, and Singaporean women are now attaining higher positions and breaking glass ceilings.

However, some women remain apprehensive about taking up leadership positions in the workplace. She said this was because they have to balance work and family, including caregiving duties.

Madam Halimah said a mindset shift is needed to break gender biases and traditional expectations of roles that men and women play.

Also speaking at the event, PPIS president Hazlina Abdul Halim noted that Singapore had achieved a score of 66 in the 2022-23 Reykjavik Index for Leadership, which presented findings from more than 14,000 respondents across 14 countries.

The index measures how society views men and women in terms of their suitability for leadership.

A score of 100 suggests an agreement that men and women are equally suited for leadership, while any figure below that suggests social prejudice.

Madam Hazlina said both men and women in Singapore hold prejudiced views of female leaders.

However, young Singaporeans hold a more progressive view on gender equity in leadership, she added.

“Role models and mentors can help bridge gaps and are instrumental in encouraging young women not to be passive followers, but leaders themselves,” said Madam Hazlina.

Women and mothers were celebrated on Sunday with a number of events to mark Mother’s Day.

At the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre in Yishun, about 60 married couples who are beneficiary families of the Chinese Development Assistance Council renewed their marriage vows witnessed by their children.

Meanwhile, a fashion show was organised at the HomeTeamNS Clubhouse in Bedok Reservoir, to showcase mothers and wives with different profiles and at varying stages of life.

The women modelled clothes that expressed both theirs and their families’ personalities.

On Saturday, the Women’s Wing of the People’s Action Party raised $637,000 for mothers and children in need, with the support of the PAP Community Foundation and donors such as Sheng Siong and FairPrice.

Beneficiaries will receive supermarket vouchers under the Mothers and Children Package initiative.