New Sinda initiative aims to help young Indian women surmount traditional barriers, challenges

(From left) Ms Praveen Randhawa, Sinda president Indranee Rajah and Sinda chief executive Anbarasu Rajendran. PHOTO: SINDA
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Sinda president Indranee Rajah speaks at the launch of "Let Her Shine!". PHOTO: SINDA

SINGAPORE - A new initiative by community self-help group Sinda aims to do away with the perception that women have to fulfil certain traditional roles, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah on Saturday (May 7).

"We want to break through that. We want to send the message out that women can do pretty much anything that they set their minds to - but you have to help them and encourage them," she added. "And if you have gender stereotyping, if you have certain biases, that's going to hold girls back."

Ms Indranee, who is president of the Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda), was speaking at the launch of the association's Let Her Shine! initiative, which is dedicated to closing the gap in areas where Singaporean Indian girls and women aged seven to 30 face barriers and challenges.

Sinda will partner some 20 national agencies and women's groups to help equip young girls with confidence, skills, opportunities and mentorships, and shape their worldview of themselves and what they can do.

It will kick off a series of programmes and workshops that aim to reach 300 participants in a pilot launch this year.

The initiative will be continually reviewed to stay relevant to women's needs, said Sinda in a statement, adding that it was in line with and in support of the White Paper on Singapore Women's Development that was endorsed by Parliament last month.

The White Paper presented a 10-year road map to ensure all women here have greater access to opportunities and more equal partnerships with men, among other recommendations.

Let Her Shine! will also focus on promoting the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or Stem, fields of study as a career option for Indian women.

A four-person Sinda Indian women's development task force headed by Ms Praveen Randhawa - a regional communications director at a multinational company - will oversee the initiative.

The goal is to help Singaporean Indian women build important skills such as resilience to overcome adversity, alongside key leadership attributes to excel and compete in the workforce, said Ms Praveen, who is also a Sinda executive committee member.

Sinda chief executive Anbarasu Rajendran said women empowerment is an important area of focus in Sinda's work to uplift the community.

"We must be able to provide women with the right resources… Let Her Shine! will help us do just that, in supporting women's dreams and aspirations," he added.

Addressing media queries at the launch event at Singapore Recreation Club attended by 70 people, Ms Indranee said a key aim of Let It Shine! is to help young women be the best of themselves.

"How often has a young girl been told 'oh you shouldn't do that, that's not very suitable… only boys do that kind of activity'," said the Second Minister for Finance and National Development. "The thing that holds girls or women back is that they feel they can't do it; that they are not good enough; that they are not equipped to do (it).

"We say 'no'; we say 'you are good enough, you can do it'... you have to build that confidence. You have to believe in yourself, and others have to believe in you too. That's what this initiative is all about," Ms Indranee added.

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