As a mother of two young children, Meredyth Kathleen Sneed understands the challenges many women must deal with in order to secure a better future for themselves and their families. It also gives more purpose to her work as a monitoring & evaluation manager at Daughters Of Tomorrow.
Having worked as a consultant in the US, Meredyth specialised in strategic planning and monitoring and evaluation for various social service organisations. She helped these organisations understand the data collected through tools such as surveys, so they could identify issues and formulate strategic changes to address them.
But Meredyth, 35, wanted to do more: “I rarely saw the results of our work; I often never heard how it went, or even if the recommendations worked at all. I wanted to help people more directly, so was drawn to a charity that served women.”
After moving to Singapore about four years ago with her husband, who works in academia here, she joined Daughters Of Tomorrow.
Daughters Of Tomorrow helps lower-income women acquire sustained employment and social mobility. Founded in 2014, it has supported more than 1,100 women in Singapore through skills training, job bridging and befriending programmes. These women come from families that earn between $200 and $650 per month, and struggle to break out of unemployment and poverty.
Among these programmes is Broaden Horizons, which Meredyth oversees too. Launched since July 2021, it offers professional support and guidance to young women so they can access jobs with better pay and career growth.
She says: “Growing up in Oklahoma, I saw many people in my family, school and community who never managed to get ahead despite being stably employed. That’s why enabling others to break out of poverty and earn a living wage has always been a central concern for me.”
How does your work help Daughters Of Tomorrow to reach out to more women and their families?
As the monitoring & evaluation manager, my work revolves around using data to assess impact, namely, are we achieving our goals? I look at whether our beneficiaries’ lives have measurably improved as a result of our programmes. If our data suggests that there’s room for improvement on our end, I can advocate for the changes that would make a difference.
Many people think that working with data must be quite boring but I find it very rewarding. As social sector workers, we have a moral responsibility to our stakeholders to do our very best work – and the data helps to show us that we’re on the right track.
You also manage Broaden Horizons, which offers traineeships and professional mentorships to young women with low incomes. Tell us more.
It breaks my heart when I meet women in their late teens or early 20s who say they’ve given up on having a fulfilling career. When I was at that age, I had so many wild plans for the future! Honestly, having big dreams and believing in them is a lot harder when you’re living in extreme poverty. So we launched the programme to give these young women a sense of hope about their careers, and a glimpse of the opportunities available to them.
The greatest challenge you have to overcome in your work at Daughters Of Tomorrow?
Accepting how much is actually out of our control. Our beneficiaries struggle with many issues that impact their ability to remain in the workforce, from mental health battles to family violence. While we can provide referrals to other organisations for these issues, we can’t magically “solve” these problems – and, really, no one can. We have to acknowledge that every woman is on her own journey and will “get there” in her own time.
Advice to those who want to contribute?
If you own a business or can influence hiring decisions in your workplace, it’d be most meaningful to commit to hiring and training women from non-traditional backgrounds. For example, she didn’t complete her N levels because of an unplanned pregnancy, or she left the workforce many years ago to raise her kids. By giving this woman a fair shot at a good job, you can help her and her children to have more stable lives.
So where’s a good place to start?
Consider contributing as a befriender with us. Hours are flexible so it is manageable for many. Befriending programmes are an amazing way for women to help other women. Social isolation and its accompanying stress can hinder success for some beneficiaries. As a befriender, you help reduce that by providing a listening ear and chatting with her.
You can help to empower women and enable families through various programmes: Befriender, Volunteer Childminder, Supportive Employer, Poverty Sensitisation Workshops, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Donation/Fundraising. Find out more about these opportunities at Daughters Of Tomorrow here.