Gender and goals: Tin Pei Ling encourages more girls to take up football

"She's not even pretty enough to be a poster girl."

That was one of the comments the Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling saw on Facebook after she was named Geylang International Football Club's first woman adviser last month.

The comment was among the many negative ones she received after the announcement.

Others pointed out that she is an adviser in a "testosterone-filled" sport, said Ms Tin, 32.

She told The New Paper: "It didn't hurt me as much, but I was bothered because these comments and attitude are what's discouraging women from taking up sports - and in this particular instance, football."

Ms Tin's comments were particularly timely since yesterday was International Women's Day.

We caught up with her after she finished her stint as a guest on ONE FM's #1 Breakfast Show with hosts The Flying Dutchman, Glenn Ong and Andre Hoeden.

As an adviser, the MacPherson MP will also be involved in the community outreach programs and she said she will look into ways to encourage girls to take up the sport - especially if they are being held back due to fear of being judged.

Ms Tin said: "You don't really hear much about female footballers here, and I want to change that. It's not just a sport for men."

Ms Tin said women face many challenges, even out of the sports arena.

And she would know.

During the hustings of the 2015 General Election, the National Solidarity Party candidate for MacPherson, Mr Cheo Chai Chen, said: "In general, mothers love their children, so they spend a lot of time with them. If voters choose her, she might focus more on her child than on her voters. This is her weakness."

CHOICE

Ms Tin responded: "Many mums face pressures to choose between motherhood and career. They should not have to."

Yesterday, the mother of a seven-month-old son said she remained committed to eradicating the attitude that working mothers are a liability for employers.

"People may not be as blunt as Mr Cheo but it is still a prevalent attitude, although it is slowly improving," she said.

"As women are now more well-educated, their ability to juggle motherhood and job shouldn't be questioned.

"After all, the father shares the same shared responsibility. That is why I want to fight for more support for parents, including better and more reliable childcare support and for more childcare leave."

Ms Tin also expressed hope that Singapore would one day see a female prime minister.

She said there are many examples of strong, female leaders around the world, including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and President of South Korea Park Geun Hye.

She said: "I'm sure we will see a female prime minister in my son's lifetime - even if it doesn't happen during mine."


This article was first published on March 9, 2016.
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