Our Guest of Honour this year is Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence.
Mr Ong Ye Kung was elected Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC in September 2015. He was appointed Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence in November 2016. In April 2017, Mr Ong spoke in Parliament about the unique challenges faced by working women in juggling their various roles in society and the family. Mr Ong also argued that women needed greater support from society and families.
Dr. Tony Tan, President
In one of their first public appearances since inauguration, the Singapore Committee for UN Women were honoured by the presence of President Tony Tan and The First Lady at our flagship annual fundraiser in 2011 at Capella Sentosa. We were delighted to host President Tan and Mrs Tan who chose to support our work on ending violence against women in the region.
“I am happy to support UN Women Singapore in one of my first public engagements as President of Singapore. I encourage you to continue supporting UN Women with your generosity.”
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong
The Guest of Honour 2016 was Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Director of International Studies at NTU. Ambassador Ong served as the Secretary-General in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from 2003 to 2007 and worked tirelessly to forge Singapore’s relationship with its neighbours in ASEAN. He strongly believes in building international partnerships that help emphasise positive change within the local communities.
We truly appreciate that our Guest of Honour, Ambassador Ong understands that commitment between the ASEAN countries is needed to allow for a sustainable growth in the region. Here in Singapore, as the chairman of Singapore International Foundation, Mr Ong inspires young entrepreneurs to enrich themselves by pursuing business endeavours with a strong social impact, supporting the youths to commit themselves in creating a better world.
Minister Grace Fu
As Minister for Culture, Community & Youth, Ms Grace Fu continues to be an inspiration for women in Singapore.
Ms Fu embarked on her career in civil service upon her election as a Member of Parliament in June 2006 for the Group Representation Constituency of Jurong. Most recently, On 1 August 2012, Ms Fu was appointed Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs. She was also promoted to the Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. She is also the Minister in charge of the Municipal Services Office that was launched on 1 Oct 2014.
In addition, Ms Fu sits on the boards of the Peoples’ Association and the Chinese Development Assistance Council. Further, she is involved in or has been involved in a number of committees including the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, the Economic Strategies Committee, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City and the National Integration Council.
Dr. Anousheh Ansari
Dr. Ansari blasted off for an eight-day expedition aboard the International Space Station and captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer.
She also earned a place in history as the first astronaut of Iranian descent, the first Muslim woman, and the fourth private explorer to visit space. This was the accomplishment of a lifelong special dream for her.
As a successful serial entrepreneur and active proponent of world-changing technologies, she along with her family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, an award for innovative space entrepreneurs.
Dr. Alaa Murabit
Dr. Alaa Murabit is the founder of The Voice of Libyan Women (VLW), a women’s empowerment organisation based in Libya. Dr. Murabit was selected as a Trust Women Hero Award finalist by Thomson Reuters Foundation and named “Arab Woman to Watch” by Al Jazeera in 2012. The following year, she was named by Newsweek as “One of 25 women under 25 to watch”, and the Trust Women Hero by The International New York Times.
“The solution for violence against women? The key to women’s rights? Education. Education is universal. Not just for women and girls, but it is equally important for men and boys. Once individuals are empowered through education and through knowledge they have the confidence, skills and tools to create whatever change is necessary in their own communities, be it economic, legal or social. And you ensure that change is sustainable because it is indigenous. It is due to a shift in their very own mentality.”
Mr. Lawrence Wong
Mr. Lawrence Wong is the Minister for Culture, Community & Youth and Second Minister for Communications and Information. He is also a Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC (Boon Lay) in Singapore. Besides inspiring Singaporeans through the arts and sports and deepening their sense of belonging to the nation, his Ministry also champions a strong corporate giving culture in Singapore to build an engaged and inclusive community.
“The Say No to the Oppression of Women gala is a meaningful event that will help to tackle the challenges faced by women here and abroad who are affected by violence, discrimination, inequality and poverty. I’m especially glad that the focus is on engaging youths as agents of change. It is important that our young people learn about the critical issues that the women in our communities face, and step forward to be part of the solution. With partners like the Singapore Committee for UN Women, I am confident that our nation can play a part in creating positive change for women and girls.”
Previous guests of honor have included serving Presidents and Nobel Prize nominees. In 2013, the Singapore Committee for UN Women was delighted to announce that Fawzia Koofi, the woman who ran to be Afghanistan’s first female president as our guest of honor.
Fawzia is one of the foremost women’s rights advocates of our generation. As a recognized humanitarian and best-selling author, Fawzia is truly an inspirational lawmaker who has regularly defied death threats to chart a meteoric rise from rural Afghanistan to the top of the political ladder. Her courageous memoir The Favored Daughter: One Women’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future recalls the hardships of being born a girl in rural Afghanistan and lays out her dreams of freedom for all women across the country.
Dr. Kiran Bedi
Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest (woman) ranking police officer, is considered by many to be one of the great change agents of modern times. A modern-day Gandhi, reaching iconic status in India, Dr. Bedi has been awarded the Asia Nobel Prize, and nominated in 2005 for the Nobel Peace Prize, for her revolutionary and historical reforms within the Indian police, prisons and through her community work. Dr. Bedi has been voted as India’s most admired woman and fifth amongst all Indians.
She is a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award (the ‘Asian Nobel Prize’) and several other national and international decorations, Dr. Bedi is an author of many books, has her biography I Dare, anchors radio and television shows and is a columnist with leading newspapers and magazines. Her expertise includes more than 35 years of creative and reformative policing and prison management. She worked with the UN in New York as the Police Advisor to the Secretary General, in the Department of Peace Keeping Operations, and has represented India in International forums on crime prevention, drug abuse, police and prison reforms and women’s issues.
Anuradha Koirala (CNN’s Hero of 2010) is the globally renowned and acclaimed social activist and founder of Maiti Nepal — a non-profit organisation in Nepal dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking.
Koirala’s work has gained international recognition for its tremendous efforts to fight against the trafficking of women and children in and out of Nepal. Maiti Nepal not only rescues and rehabilitates trafficked girls and women, but also works to prevent trafficking and illegal labor through education programs amongst girls at high risk. Prosecution of sex traffickers are also facilitated by the organization. Koirala works tirelessly to address the roots of human trafficking which stem from a range of socio-economic issues such as gender discrimination, lack of education & awareness, superstitions, taboos and poverty.
“More than 10,000 girls per year between the ages of 9-16 are sold from Nepal into the brothels of India.”