I will begin by posting about my interview series from the 6th of August- which is in 2 days! Before I send you the interviews of these amazing young women, let me share with you why I decided to embark on this project:
Growing up in Singapore, I have had the privilege of high quality education, healthcare and access to all the resources I needed to achieve my dreams. I did not have to worry about my safety when walking back from school late in the evening. And I wondered why many other women in the world cannot do the same without being harassed or violated. I have held positions of leadership throughout my schooling life and found it difficult to understand, if we can be recognized for leadership excellence in school, why does it become so hard in our careers? In my family, both my brother and I have been given the best opportunities and resources without any discrimination. Then why does gender become an issue later on in the ‘real world’? Why do homes, the place of safety and comfort for us, become a life threatening place for some women? Why does professional excellence of women often get masked by whether or not she is young and/or beautiful?
Questions like these seem to be a few of the many barriers to achieving true equality of the genders. I do believe that I have been very blessed. Globally, many girls do not even get an opportunity to have an education, basic healthcare or a safe and secure environment to live in, let alone be leaders and decision makers in parliaments. However, I do have a vision for the future.
I hope that in our near future, unjustified biases against women will be abolished and women will ascend positions of leadership and will be central to decision making. I believe that women are forward thinking and hence, make decisions that ensure the sustainability for the future generations. Women in power make more investments in the quality of education, affordable healthcare and access to clean water1. Women’s empowerment will produce collateral beneficiaries; LGBTQ rights, indigenous people’s rights, children’s rights, religious freedom to name a few. Gender equality is not just beneficial for women. The iron scaffold that men are compelled to mould into, in order to prove their masculinity will be lifted. They will not have to entertain unfair stereotypes and standards imposed upon them. Women will make more family friendly policies so that the entire responsibility of parenting will be eased from women’s shoulders while men will have be given an opportunity to enjoy being a father.
I hope that the world will become a safe place where women can walk on the streets without fear and have her own voice and agency. I hope to see a world with greater peace and diplomacy, collaboration and cooperation. Studies have shown that women are less likely engage in wars or violence as protection of families and communities are key in their policy formualtions2. I was born in Bangladesh and with great pride, I can highlight a woman in power, Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh who has taken the leap in enhancing opportunities for women and providing girls the access to education.3 Prime Minister Hasina has also propelled the country towards socioeconomic success and worked to promote social justice and inclusion, climate change management and reduced hunger, poverty and inequality. Now, imagine if we had many more leaders who were female. How would our world be transformed?
The discussion about gender equality is definitely a pertinent one. With this interview series I hope that we can look into some of the issues women still face today and how we can free ourselves from the shackles that still bind us.
Here is a little video (trailer) I put together with a few of the Leading Ladies who sent me their videos from different parts of the world. Hope you enjoy it! Do share it with your friends and families! And feel free to leave your ideas and thoughts about these issues.