108 lauded on virtual Women's Hall of Fame

SINGAPORE - On a wall at the Waterloo Street home of the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO) are tributes to nine women who improved the lives of others here.

Now the SCWO is expanding the wall by taking it online, where it will honour, for a start, 108 remarkable women, such as activists, movers and shakers in various professions, and a housewife who has cared for more than three dozen abused or abandoned children.

The national co-ordinating body for women's groups will launch its virtual Singapore Women's Hall of Fame at a gala dinner on March 14 to mark International Women's Day this Saturday.

Its president Laura Hwang said: "We want to make sure these women's lives are documented as they are so significant and inspiring and they can serve as role models, especially to the younger generation."

The nine on its wall include war heroine Elizabeth Choy; the former Member of Parliament who campaigned for the Women's Charter Chan Choy Siong; and women's rights activist Shirin Fozdar, who initiated the formation of the Syariah Court. The Women's Charter is a set of laws that protect and advance women's rights.

Mrs Hwang said it did not start with a fixed number of women to celebrate, but a selection panel, headed by Ambassador at Large Tommy Koh, had pared the list down from more than 200 names.

Those on the list include well-known names such as novelist Catherine Lim, corporate heavyweights such as Temasek Holdings' chief executive Ho Ching and SingTel CEO Chua Sock Koong, politican Halimah Yacob and former swimming champions Patricia Chan and Joscelin Yeo.

Others include leaders such as Dr Noeleen Heyzer, the first Singaporean chosen to head a UN agency, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, in 1994. She later became the first woman to lead the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, overseeing regional development for Asia-Pacific states. She is now special adviser to the UN chief for Timor Leste.

Said Dr Heyzer, who is in her 60s: "I'm very honoured and humbled that my work is recognised by Singapore."

Also honoured are pioneers in various fields, such as Dr Lee Choo Neo, who became Singapore's first female doctor in 1919 and Mary Quintal, one of the first women to be recruited as a police constable and who rose to become the first female assistant superintendent of the Singapore Police Force in 1961.

Also in the Hall of Fame are ordinary women who gave of themselves generously, such as Madam Indranee Nadisen, a housewife in her 70s who fostered more than three dozen abandoned or abused children.

The public can also nominate women they think deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The website, www.swhf.sg, goes live on March 14.

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