Singapore Women's Hall of Fame honours eight trailblazers

Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls’ School.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
Glory Barnabas won the 1973 SEAP Games 200m gold medal.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
Madam Zahrah Za’ba was a prolific producer of radio plays.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
K. Jayamani won the 1983 SEA Games marathon gold medal.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF’s highest-ranking female officer.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
Ms Florence Chua is the first female deputy police commissioner.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009.
Madam Zahrah Za'ba was a prolific producer of radio plays. BG Gan Siow Huang is SAF's highest-ranking female officer. Author Tham Yew Chin received the Cultural Medallion in 2009. Madam Liew Yuen Sien headed Nanyang Girls' School. Glory Barnabas won
Ms Evelyn Norris was principal of Raffles Girls’ School.

Author, soldier, radio producer, policewoman, educators, athletes recognised for their achievements

Eight women have been inducted into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame (SWHF), which recognises the contributions and achievements of those in the pioneering generation to inspire other young adults to become fellow trailblazers.

The honours list this year included school principal Liew Yuen Sien, radio broadcaster Zahrah Za'ba and Brigadier-General Gan Siow Huang.

Madam Liew Yuen Sien was just 26 when she became principal of Nanyang Girls' School. She held the position for nearly 40 years, playing a pivotal role in fighting for the rights of every girl to have an education, and would try her best to provide them with funding to continue with their schooling.

Under her care, the school's enrolment grew from a few hundred to some two thousand and the girls had a complete education path from kindergarten to pre-university.

Madam Liew was the grandmother of Minister for Culture, Community and YouthGrace Fu, the second woman to be a Cabinet minister in Singapore after Mrs Lim Hwee Hua. Madam Liew died in 1975.

Madam Zahrah Za'ba, who ran the Malay broadcasting department of Radio Singapore from 1958 to 1974, was a prolific producer of numerous radio plays such as the hugely popular Esah dan Keluarga-nya, or Esah And Her Family, which she wrote, produced and acted in.

Apart from her success in radio plays, she was also one of the first broadcast journalists in Singapore's Radio Malaya. She died in 1988.

Brigadier-General Gan Siow Huang, the highest-ranking female officer in the Singapore Armed Forces, is another pioneer in her field. A mother of three daughters, she was the commanding officer of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 203 squadron when she gave birth to her second child. She eventually climbed the ranks to become brigadier-general in 2015.

Despite her exacting duties, she still finds the time to mentor young students as part of the Young Women's Leadership Connection mentoring programme.

The others who made it to the honours list were award-winning author Tham Yew Chin, sprinter Glory Barnabas, long-distance runner K. Jayamani, director of the Criminal Investigation Division Florence Chua and educator Evelyn Norris, who died in 2014.

Inductees can have immensely diverse backgrounds, but all must have made significant and enduring contributions to society, helping to open new frontiers for women in Singapore. The selection panel was chaired by Professor Tommy Koh.

Past inductees have included President Halimah Yacob, who joined the Hall of Fame in 2014. She will be present at this year's induction ceremony at The St Regis Singapore hotel on March 23.

Ms Clara Lim, programmes executive of SWHF, hopes that by raising the profiles of these individuals, more young women will be inspired to pursue their dreams.

"We started the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame because women's contributions and achievements have not always had the recognition they deserve. Women do not feature prominently in our documented, official history," said Ms Lim.

"This is not a problem unique to Singapore; it's a universal problem. Until fairly recently, women pretty much everywhere were considered to play a secondary role in life to men, and this is reflected in the scant recognition given to their contributions."

Judging by the feedback, the message of female empowerment seems to have been well-received.

"The Singapore Women's Hall of Fame has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and do things to make a difference to others," Claire Tay, a second-year student from CHIJ Secondary, said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore Women's Hall of Fame honours eight trailblazers'. Print Edition | Subscribe