In 2005, The Singapore Women’s Weekly had a dream. We wanted to create a platform to show off the talents and achievements of Singaporean women from all walks of life and areas of expertise – cultural leaders and educators, groundbreaking scientists and researchers, healthcare providers, social workers, athletes, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
We wanted to scope out women who were not yet in the news, but were making a difference through what they were doing in their every day lives. We knew there were many of such successful, hardworking women in Singapore, who were yet unrecognised for their impressive achievements and contributions. The Great Women of Our Time Awards celebrates these women.
Each year, we shortlist 18 nominees, with three in each of the six categories: Arts & Media; Design & Style; Health, Sports & Wellness; Finance & Commerce; Education & Public Service; and Science & Technology.
I count myself privileged to be able to cross paths with such inspiring women. These are women with enterprising spirits, women with a heart for the marginalised, women with great passion, strength and courage, women who are doers and darers.
Women who are driven and set the sky as their limit. Mixed martial arts fighter May Ooi, who won the Health Sports & Wellness category in 2014, shared, “I have always believed in dreaming big and shooting for the stars. It’s not easy. It requires tunnel vision focus… I’ve learned to protect my dreams so that nobody can shoot them down and put their limitations on me.”
These are women who cheer on other women. I’m always impressed at how tireless and giving our nominees are. Take for example, Dr Ann Tan, a nominee in the Education & Public service category in 2008. The fertility specialist runs a successful practice but she’s been involved with countless fundraisers. She’s now also helping the younger generation of women via the Women’s Register’s online mentoring programme, and she’s also inspiring future leaders with her work at the Halogen Foundation. When I asked Dr Tan why she continues to give back, she said simply, “I do it because from giving, I learn, and it keeps me grounded.”
Other past nominees who have gone on to make names for themselves in their fields include Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor, Singapore Central District Mayor Denise Phua, ex-NMP Eunice Oleson, actress Irene Ang, and National Day Parade Creative Director Beatrice Chia-Richmond.
But celebrating the contributions of these high-achievers isn’t the only reason for the Great Women of Our Time Awards. The Weekly has always had a core value of giving back. That’s why, in this 11th year of the awards, we will be embarking on several other fringe events. The Great Women Of Our Time Supper Club is a fundraising dinner we’re excited to be hosting; while the Forum aims to empower our readers by tapping on the skills and knowledge of alumnae and other successful women entrepreneurs. In all that we choose to do, we hope to be able to share many lessons that inspire others to lead more powerful, purposeful lives.
– Editor-in-Chief Barbara Koh