President Halimah hosts women's groups to lunch at Istana

President Halimah Yacob hosted lunch for various women's groups, including the Singapore Nurses Association and the Singapore Muslim Women's Association. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Sugarcane, pandan leaves and a banana cake. These were some of the items Ms Mandy Foo and Ms Ivy Singh-Lim of the Bollywood Veggies farm gifted President Halimah Yacob when they met her at the Istana on Sunday (Oct 1).

Madam Halimah, who became Singapore's first woman president two weeks ago, was hosting lunch for various women's groups including the Singapore Nurses Association and the Singapore Muslim Women's Association.

On top of looking after day-to-day operations at Bollywood Veggies, Ms Foo is the director of the Gentle Warriors' Trust, which Mrs Singh-Lim launched in 2015 with the aim of funding women seeking opportunities to develop their skills or start social enterprises.

She said: "We're delighted that someone like Madam Halimah can become president. She shares the gentle warrior spirit we want to encourage."

Madam Halimah mingled with about 100 guests to find out more about the work they are doing.

In a Facebook post on Sunday evening, she said she had a good dialogue with them on the priorities and challenges facing women in Singapore.

"In today's society, women play a significant role both at home and at work. I salute all of them for their contributions," she wrote.

Aidha co-founder Saleemah Ismail said: "When she came to our table, the first thing she did was affirm support for women's organisations... We also likewise affirmed our support for her. She is our first Madam President ever, and we want to do all we can to support her."

Ms Saleemah's group provides financial literacy programmes for foreign domestic workers and lower-income women.

She said Madam Halimah has long championed women's issues and after becoming minister of state for social and family development in 2012.

Citing reports of how some women's groups here had differing views on a joint report on gender discrimination to be submitted to a United Nations Committee, she added: "Madam President will be the best to unify all women's organisations. She has the social capital, the respect, and the history of working with us individually. She's the person who can pull us together and get us to focus on the issues that matter."

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