As a child, I was a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies; my favourite character in particular was Hermione Granger because of her intelligence and fierce love for her friends. It was through Emma Watson, the actress who acted as Hermione in the films, that I was first introduced to feminism and the concept of gender equality. In 2014, I watched a video of a nervous Emma Watson taking the stage at the United Nations Headquarters to make a speech for the HeForShe campaign. While her intention was to reach out to men and call upon them to advocate for gender equality, watching someone that I deeply admired openly call herself a feminist left an impact on me. As an undergraduate student majoring in sociology, I was further exposed to the various forms of inequality ingrained in our society. This drove me to gain a better understanding of women’s issues in Singapore by applying for an internship at SCWO.
Starting my internship during the circuit breaker period was, needless to say, an interesting experience. Much of my internship was spent working from home; unlike previous interns, I was not able to work together with colleagues and volunteers in person, let alone help out in setting up exhibitions or in interviewing inductees. Yet, despite the unique and unprecedented circumstances that COVID-19 had presented us, I found myself learning so much more than I had planned to. As an intern working on the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame (SWHF), one of my tasks was to edit and update the inductee profiles on the website. Conducting further research on every honouree has been an enlightening experience – despite coming from different backgrounds, all of them overcame challenges and difficulties in order to make their mark in their respective fields. It was through my internship that I came to know these remarkable women and their outstanding achievements, and how they would have slowly faded from our history, if not for the efforts of SWHF to commemorate them. What women have been able to achieve goes beyond what can be listed in the profiles of 160 inductees – while I was organising the database of nominees for SWHF, I came across hundreds of women who have made an impact in their own communities, both big and small. Be they entrepreneurs, artists or scientists, these women have paved the way for future generations to move forward and create change in their own communities.
If there is anything that these tumultuous times have shown me, it is this: that women, regardless of their race or religion, have always been at the forefront of leading their communities, creating change and improving the society that we live in. Change begins with us – one does not have to be a revolutionary pioneer in order to advocate for gender equality. As individuals, we are all able to fight for equality in our own way, creating even the most minute ripples in our society. It is these everyday actions that I place my hope in, that one day women will be given their due recognition for their contributions to society.