Keynote Address by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Transport, at The Singapore Women's Weekly Great Women of our Time Gala Dinner, on Thursday, 13 August 2009, at 8.10 pm, Four Seasons Hotel13 Aug 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am delighted to be invited once again to The Singapore Women's Weekly Great Women of Our Time Gala Dinner, where we recognise and celebrate the many achievements of women in Singapore.
Great Women of our Time
2. I attended this event in 2005, when the magazine held the awards for the first time. Then, I had the pleasure of meeting the six inaugural winners and it is a source of pride for us all that these women have all gone on to climb to even greater heights in their respective fields. Indeed, Joanne Soo, the winner in the Health, Sports & Wellness category that year, made it to the top of Mount Everest just this past May, together with her compatriots in the Singapore Women's Everest Team.
3. Another of those debut winners joins us tonight, this time as a judge of these inspiring awards. My colleague in Parliament, Denise Phua, co-founded the Pathlight School, Singapore's first autism school for children in 2004 and today is its Supervisor as well as President of the Autism Research Centre. Most recently, in April, Denise helped to set up another autism school, Eden School, giving more choices to parents of children with special needs.
4. These two women, along with all the past winners and nominees of the Great Women Of Our Time, show that there is even more that can be achieved after the trophies have been handed out, the applause has stopped and the guests have gone home. They achieved so much through a combination of talent, hard work and never-say-die attitudes, and it is no surprise that these qualities continued to spur them to greater heights. And they continue to be an inspiration to us all.
Progress of Women
5. The wide range of industries in which today's nominees have succeeded is testament to the fact that women in Singapore can contribute in many different ways, and successfully, too. Today, women make up more than half of Singapore's workforce, and are making a stronger impact than ever before. Even in industries which are traditionally dominated by men like engineering, Singapore's meritocratic system allows women who have the skills and capabilities the opportunity to succeed.
6. But this success does not come easy. It frequently takes great sacrifice. Any number of women in this room will tell you how hard it is to balance their desire for precious family and personal time with ever-pressing work and professional commitments.
7. The modern Singapore woman needs to juggle multiple roles and goals. She has to be productive at work and contribute to the economy, while at the same time, be a devoted wife, mother and daughter to provide comfort and stability to the family. As a mother of three children, I know it is not an easy task, and we all have to negotiate the balance in our own ways. Some women take time off from work when their children are young. Others rush off at the end of the work day to pick up their children from childcare or spend precious moments with the family.
8. As our Prime Minister recently pointed out, the statistics show that many women in Singapore choose to remain out of the workforce after having children. While this is a very personal decision, we need to make sure that women who do want to return to work can find employers that offer the appropriate support. I thus salute those nominees who have managed to balance your clear success with your family lives, and I hope that the companies you work for - and the companies you run - will be an example to other firms in Singapore.
9. Indeed, to have achieved what each of the nominees here today - whether married or single - has done is no easy task. It reflects their dedication and their drive, their ambition and their ability. So this evening I congratulate all the 18 nominees of this year's awards. Just as with all previous winners and nominees, your work - whether it is in business, sports or the arts, health, education or technology - does not stop here. After tonight, there will be a thousand more opportunities for you to harness and ways to take your ambitions, dreams and goals even further. And these thousand more opportunities represent a thousand more chances for you to inspire the Great Women of a Future Time - our daughters and granddaughters - in Singapore.
10. Thank you and have a lovely evening.