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Opening Address By Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister Of State For Finance And Transport, At The Singapore Women's Weekly Gala Dinner, On Thursday, 17 November 2005, At 8.25 Pm, The Conrad Centennial Singapore

17 Nov 2005

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening,

1. It is a great honour for me to be invited to the Singapore Women's Weekly Gala Dinner. We have all come together tonight to recognise and celebrate women's accomplishments, and with one common purpose in mind - to create a better future for tomorrow.

2. Our global community promotes policies and attitudes that are anchored in equal opportunities for both men and women. Great strides have been made in ensuring that glass ceilings are cracked, although as some may argue, we still have some way to go for the glass to be shattered completely.

3. Let's take stock. You have only to look here at home to see wonderful examples of women making their mark. We are blazing trails in a wide range of fields, from Olivia Lum, who is recognised for her leadership in the hardcore engineering world of membrane technology, to Miss Loh Wai Kiew's noteworthy appointment to lead a global business division in Shell after having made waves in waste management, and, yes, I should give mention also to the work of my own colleagues in Parliament.

4. Even closer to us are the nominees for this event ? The Great Women of Our Time. It is nothing short of awe-inspiring to read of the successes of this talented group and I applaud the initiative of the Singapore Women's Weekly that gives them due recognition on the public stage. Ladies, your success and determination in the areas of Arts & Media; Finance & Commerce; Education & Public Service; Science & Technology; Health, Sports & Wellness; and Design & Style, as well as your commitments in other areas of the community, stand as testament to women's ability to excel at the highest and widest level.

5. But while this evening is about acknowledging the contributions to society of the 18 accomplished ladies nominated in The Singapore Women's Weekly, we should really salute women from all walks of life, throughout Singapore, and further afield, who, day in and day out, demonstrate an inherent ability and capacity to juggle a whole host of responsibilities ? raising families, being good mothers, being supportive wives, being filial daughters, keeping homes, volunteering for worthy causes, earning a living, studying, teaching, building lives - the roles are endless.

6. They - and we - are making important decisions that affect the future of children, friends and colleagues, of work places and communities. Women everywhere are juggling increasingly more competing demands. We are natural multi-taskers with a special ability to be flexible with our time and energies!

7. Thinking of such busy days, I am reminded of a comment once made by Mrs Margaret Thatcher during her tenure as Prime Minister of the UK. She said, "Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do and you've done it."

8. I agree that satisfaction comes from the completion of objectives set, of daily tasks ticked off the diary. But amidst this often hectic life, I believe it is extremely important for each of us to take a little time now and then, for ourselves; to take stock of our lives, to recognise and celebrate our achievements, no matter how great or small.

9. Perhaps you have successfully completed a project at work or taken up a new hobby. Maybe you managed to get your three-year-old to eat his dinner with no fuss, or perhaps you simply finished the last chapter of a novel you thought you'd never have the time to read... Any of these and many other examples can be considered accomplishments. Celebrate them - whether by treating yourself to a musical or family dinner or - yes - by taking time out to read a favourite magazine!

10. I congratulate all the nominees this evening. I salute you as important role models for women of all ages and backgrounds throughout Singapore. I talked about taking time out to celebrate even the smallest of goals achieved - let this evening be one of those occasions. For I believe, truly, we are all Great Women Of Our Time. Thank you.