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Every International Women’s Day, YWCA celebrates women from diverse backgrounds and upholds their achievements and progress so that we can continue to inspire and encourage more positive advancement for all women in Singapore. This year, we invited our newly appointed Executive Director, Ong Puay See, who took the helm to lead YWCA in October 2023, to share her thoughts on this year’s International Women’s Day.

Puay See joined YWCA in 2022 as Deputy Executive Director.  She has close to 30 years of experience in the financial industry and in government and not-for-profit institutions. She was the CEO of The Institute of Banking & Finance and previously Director with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).  She was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) in 2014, for her contributions to the Singapore public service. She is an active volunteer with the Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) and currently sits on the Board of Communications of the Chinese Annual Conference.  She graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Accountancy (Honours) with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. A mother of a teenage daughter, Puay See is a cancer survivor, having battled breast cancer in 2016, and regularly volunteers her time to journey with breast cancer warriors.  She serves on Christian Women Fellowship groups, and is also a Special Needs Sunday School Teacher at the Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church where she worships.

 


 

I visited Stanford University in 2015 and enjoyed a wonderful art exhibition on wartime posters. I was particularly captivated by this poster from the YWCA. The powerful taglines, “For Every Fighter, a Woman Worker” struck me on the impact of the YWCA in building a nation. The Young Women’s Christian Associations (YWCA) all over the world have always been instrumental in rallying women to stand up and be counted, to serve and contribute, especially in times of need. During wartime, when men were called to serve in the military, women had to step forward to take over roles vacated by men at the factories and offices. When YWCA was first birthed in England in 1855, Emma Roberts and Lady Kinnaird were concerned about young girls leaving their families to work in the cities and nurses working in hospitals without a safe space to stay, and the YWCA was established to be a community of women supporting these young girls.

It was the same ideology that led to the birth of YWCA Singapore in 1875. Whether in educating women with skills to keep them relevant for the needs of the different times, providing hostel services to keep young women safe, or childcare facilities so housewives could return to the workforce, YWCA Singapore has always been a catalyst in ensuring that women were given opportunities and moving ahead. 

This International Women’s Day calls to mind our heritage as a women’s charity, championing for women the last 149 years. This year’s International Women’s Day celebrates the theme “Inspire Inclusion”, where we celebrate the empowerment of women from different social, economic, cultural backgrounds. It is a call for us to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected. #InspireInclusion encourages all to recognize the unique perspectives and contributions of women from all walks of life, including those from marginalized communities.

I am so proud to be part of this strong women heritage in YWCA.  And even prouder that the YWCA of Singapore today reflects #InspireInclusion in our DNA.  We have Empowering Mums and Empowering Young Women programmes to allow women from marginalized backgrounds an opportunity to get a leg up in life.  Over the years, we have built up a strong community of women volunteers and supporters who come onboard as Board or Committee Ladies to develop programmes to help the community. Some work as ground volunteers to distribute food, develop training or teach English.  Many of our ladies roll up their sleeves to fundraise through their passions: cooking yummy foods or selling beautiful crafts. Our annual YWCA fundraising carnivals are such happy events!  Many of these ladies are remarkable in their daily roles as daughters, sisters, mothers, employees or leaders and they embody our YWCA spirit of “By Love, Serve One Another”.

This International Women’s Day, I would like to give a big shout-out to the beautiful women who form part of our loving YWCA community. You ladies inspire me everyday! Continue to #InspireInclusion.

By Love, Serve One Another

God bless you all!

 

Ong Puay See