Laura Hwang, In her 60s, Singapore representative for women’s rights on the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children

If you’re looking for a woman who has made it a mission to give her time, energy and considerable enthusiasm to help others, look no further than Laura Hwang.

Chairman of the Singapore Dance Theatre since 2016, Laura was appointed as Singapore’s representative for women’s rights to the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in 2014.

Laura was also the president of the Singapore Council for Women’s Organisations from 2010 to 2014, where she motivated changes to the Women’s Charter to improve legal and support systems for divorced women and families.

“I have always been conscious that I was both fortunate and lucky to have had supportive parents and access to a good education that shaped me career-wise and as a person,” she confesses.

“Through the various organisations that I have served with, it was clear than more could be done for other women and children. I felt it was my responsibility, as someone who is able to improve the situations of others, to play my part.”

Her appointment two years ago as Singapore’s representative for women’s rights in the ACWC has allowed her to do just that and underscores the importance her voice plays in empowering the women in Asia.

Laura, ever the optimist, also believes gender equality can only get better from here.

“The way that society is structured still leaves women more vulnerable and although we have made such great advances, there is still a long way to go to level the status quo between men and women,” she says.

“I want to be a role model for younger women as I believe it’s so important that there’s tangible proof of what can be achieved as a woman.”

A role model, Laura is! As the first Singaporean woman to be appointed as managing director of an international bank she paved the way for a slew of younger women to follow in her gender-breaking footsteps.

“There have been occasions when someone says ‘I went into banking because you showed me the possibilities’,” she recalls.

“So, looking at all the very top-level Singaporean women and men there are in the financial industry today, I am most privileged to have had a role in this development.”

For such an accomplished woman, it’s intriguing to imagine who Laura herself draws inspiration from but the advocate was forthcoming when asked.

“During my presidency of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, which is the co-ordinating body of over 50 women’s groups in Singapore, we established the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014, to celebrate the outstanding women of Singapore,” she explains.

“The trailblazers in all different fields of endeavour, each of whom has contributed to where we are today. These pioneers, boundary-breakers and visionaries are all women who inspire me!”

Words to live by: “Everything is either a challenge or an opportunity!”

Next Up: “I’m working towards the ideals of ‘Equal Space, Equal Voice, Equal Worth’ for the women of Singapore. These include the reduction in the income gap between men and women, enhanced initiatives to encourage joint parenting and support for mothers, and more representation at senior levels of government and industry.”