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Speech at The Forum on Leadership for Girls by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Finance and Transport, on Friday, 22 February 2008, 3.10 pm, RELC International Hotel Auditorium

22 Feb 2008

Prof Leo Tan
Chairman, NYAA Council

Ms Kar Mei Lee
Regional Director, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Ms Sue Walker
Regional Director, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Association

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

1. It is my pleasure to join you here today at the Forum on Leadership for Girls and to witness the MOU Signing Ceremony between the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and The Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Association.

2. The two organizations have much in common and it is clearly logical for them both to work together to enhance the development of young girls in the region.

3. The theme for the Girl Guides' Thinking Day - "Discover your Potential", focuses on leadership and service, through self-development, challenge and adventure. This sits perfectly well with The Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Association's aim to develop leadership and skills amongst the youth to enable them to make a difference to themselves, their communities and their nations. In Singapore, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Programme affiliate - the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) programme similarly aims to instill in young people these desirable values and skills. Through the NYAA activities, young people acquire confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills whilst developing into compassionate individuals who are prepared to sacrifice their time and energy in service to their community.

4. In society today, it is important to provide opportunities for the development of leadership amongst girls and young women. In Singapore, girls and boys alike have equal opportunities to receive an education and to develop themselves, but still more can be done to expose girls to leadership role models that they can emulate across a broad range of professions. Whilst men have access to excellent support networks, particularly through the National Service system and can look up to the high achievers in the corporate and government sectors as role models, women too need to have such opportunities and experiences.

5. Over the years, the NYAA Council has successfully groomed numerous young women to take up leadership roles, representing Singapore and the NYAA at youth conferences, caucuses and networks at the national, regional and international levels. Just to give you a few examples, Ms Natalie Morris, State Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor and NYAA Gold Award Holders' Alumni Executive Committee member, serves as Singapore's Youth Representative in the Commonwealth Youth Caucus and has represented Singapore at various meetings.

6. Similarly, Melanie Lee Su Ting, NYAA Gold Awardee, utilised her leadership skills by representing Singapore at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Uganda, held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2007.

7. Rumya Ananthan, NYAA Gold Award Executive Committee member and a nurse at the Kandang Kerbau Women's and Children's Hospital, was one of the only four youth leaders in the world to be selected by the World Youth Health Committee to present a youth health report to His Excellency Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary-General, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

8. Environmental enthusiast, Choo Pei Ling, NYAA Gold Award holder, is the Singapore representative at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)'s South East Asia Youth Environment Network (SEAYEN). Her outstanding leadership abilities, as evidenced during the project on how young people can contribute and provide support in combating climate change, are to be commended.

9. These are just some examples of many young women that the NYAA has groomed to provide leadership amongst youth and the community on a variety of pressing issues and concerns facing our nation as well as the region and world today.

10. The NYAA Council with the support of Ms Irene Ng, Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, launched the Leadership for Females programme to create opportunities to develop leadership amongst girls, including exposing them to female role models from both the public and private sectors. There are a large number of females in Singapore who can perform dynamic leadership roles in our society, provided that they are given the relevant skills, knowledge and experiences.

11. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the NYAA Council for providing young girls with the opportunity and platform to excel, and also for organising today's forum with a distinguished panel of women with key leadership roles in a variety of areas - government, business and amongst the youth community. I wish to encourage all the young girls here today to engage the panelists and voice out your comments and questions. Tap on their rich experience and learn how you can dream big and make it big! Remember, you all have what it takes to achieve success in life and be active leaders amongst your own community. Seize the moment and realize your potential.

12. On that note, I thank you.