September 16th, 2010

The Woman I Want My Daughter To Be

Like many other women in Singapore, NICOLE TAN juggles family and work and sometimes finds it a struggle. So why did she decide to take on the extra load of becoming President of AWARE?

Dear Members,

As I write this, my first note to you in my capacity as President, I am conscious that I have, for the third time this month, skipped tutoring my eight year old in Chinese. If the past weeks are indicative, there will be many more skipped sessions ahead. Will she miss them? I’m sure she (or her results) will let me know soon. She sits for her Chinese test tomorrow.

I am not alone in my predicament – high functioning on one level; anxious and not just a little guilty and scared on another. Like many of you, like many women in Singapore, I juggle family and work. I truly empathise with the woman who wants it all but fears that something’s got to give.

Nonetheless, I am going to try to fill some really big shoes as AWARE president. I don’t mind saying, I feel the weight of my predecessors on my shoulders as I write.

For 25 years, AWARE has been the forum for women, a place where thoughts are formed and spoken and given life through action. One after another, you stood up, pushed back your fears, and spoke up.

One after another, you have stood your ground, and spoken up against domestic violence, date rape, sexual harassment, discriminatory policies. You have put your names to your words and acted on your conviction, even when it would have been so much easier to say ‘no comment’. And because you spoke up, others have learned to find their voices and to use them.

I too will now have to push aside my own fears, find my voice and use it and so add to the foundations of the road that was opened for us 25 years ago.

This forum is precious. It was precious to the giants before me; it is precious to me; and unless AWARE succeeds beyond our wildest imagination, it will be precious to my daughter and perhaps to her daughters also.

What is AWARE to you? It is important that we, each of us, evaluate the question honestly. Your answer may well compel you to action.

In closing, I thank my family for the sacrifices that they will have to make in the next two years. Above all, I thank you for the opportunity to be the woman I want my daughter to be.

Fearfully Fearless,

Nicole Tan

One Comment ...

  1. zaibun Siraj

    Hi Nicole

    Thank you for this letter and for taking on the task of leading AWARE. I know that you will be detailed in your analysis of issues and that you will take AWARE further forward in her quest to achieve gender equality.
    I wish you the very best for the future.