daughters of tomorrow monique tugas

It’s no overstatement to say that Monique Tugas has made the most of her time with Daughters Of Tomorrow.

Since 2020, she’s been volunteering as a befriender, checking in regularly with the women over video calls or WhatsApp. This one-on-one friendship and support can greatly motivate beneficiaries on their back-to-work journey.

At Daughters Of Tomorrow, Monique also facilitates a weekly workshop for Power Up Online. The course equips the women with practical skills such as interviews and communication, to improve their access to job opportunities. This weekly workshop, which lasts one-and-a-half hours, allows participants to discuss the course content as well as to develop relationships with one another.   

Daughters Of Tomorrow 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 them, 82% have secondary school education or lower, and 44% are single mothers. They haven’t been able to access employment due to factors such as lack of confidence, practical support, and awareness.

And Monique wants to do more. She’s also been instrumental in fostering close collaboration between Daughters Of Tomorrow and LinkedIn, where she works as a principal customer success manager to support clients’ content and management strategies.

Monique Tugas, a volunteer befriender with Daughters Of Tomorrow, says some beneficiaries may not be willing to open up immediately. “So I learnt to be patient and not take it personally. I gave them space instead,” she adds.

LinkedIn has conducted training sessions that boost beneficiaries’ confidence to use the platform and improve their access to job opportunities. It is also working with Daughters Of Tomorrow on a programme to help beneficiaries build skills required for thriving in and sustaining employment. This will enable social mobility.

Says the 42-year-old, who was born in the Philippines and has called Singapore home since 2013: “The mission of Daughters Of Tomorrow resonates well with me. I love how, through its work, women are empowered to be more than just mothers and wives, allowing them to realise the many contributions they can make to society.”   

What’s special about a community of women is, we know how to empower one another.

Monique speaks from her own experience – she was a single mother to her eldest son for 12 years. While she began her journey feeling shameful and regretful due to the social stigma, she derived strength and support from the amazing women around her.

“Single-parent families are perceived as dysfunctional and there’s an expectation that children who grow up in these households would be troubled or have issues,” Monique confides. “But my mum and my best friends believed in me and supported my decision. They reminded me that I was making the right decision not just for myself, but for my son as well.” 

Now married, the mother of three – besides her 19-year-old son, she has two younger daughters who are 5 years and 20 months old respectively – Monique has come a long way. “It’s hard to see light at the end of the tunnel when you are just about to make the decision or just made the decision. Women need to know it’s a journey, that it will get better, and I am living proof of that.”

You play an active role in building a community for the women Daughters Of Tomorrow serves. Why is this community important?

Knowing that you are not alone in your journey gives you courage. What’s special about a community of women is, we know how to empower one another. And we also know when we just need to offer a listening ear – sometimes that’s what most women need.

Many women who want to volunteer often hesitate for various reasons, such as due to lack of time or training.

This was the same issue I had for many years before learning about Daughters Of Tomorrow. Passion, as well as understanding what motivates you, are key. There should be a genuine interest not just to help, but to also want to connect with our beneficiaries, to be their friend and invested in their success.

Some beneficiaries take longer to open up to befrienders. How do you deal with rejection?

I am so thankful to the Life on the Edge programme, which Daughters Of Tomorrow organised as part of onboarding. It allowed me to better understand what our beneficiaries may have gone or are going through. Some women may become doubtful of our intentions due to past experiences. So I learnt to be patient and not take it personally. I gave them space instead – and didn’t force any conversation or share my own experiences. I also try to have fun with them, so they know our interactions need not always be serious or heavy.

Your best moment as a volunteer with Daughters Of Tomorrow?   

In December 2020, we distributed Swensen’s vouchers to the women so they could enjoy a meal with their family. One of my beneficiaries decided to bring out me out on a Christmas date – I thought that was very sweet and humbling! It was our first time meeting in person. She even got presents for my little girl!

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.

Photography: Studio Aeonz
Set Styling and Creative Direction: BDVA
Clothing and Accessories: Interviewee’s own
Makeup and Hair: Fifty Shades Makeup Academy
Products: COTY Inc.