International Women's Day, on 8 March 2022, was a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women around the world and reflect on the work that still needs to be done. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. Coupled with the hashtag #BreakTheBias, the theme encourages people worldwide to fight towards a society that is more equal, inclusive, and free of bias and discrimination.
SMU held a series of events to honour the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of SMU women across faculty, staff, students and alumni. In particular, the University hosted a virtual panel dialogue, In Conversation with SMU Women Alumni Leaders, featuring Anna Vanessa Haotanto (Bachelor of Business Management, 2008), Sandra Lam (Master of IT in Business, 2019) and Wong Dan Chi (Bachelor of Accountancy, 2009) – as they shared their perspectives and experiences on a range of topics related to equality, sustainability and leadership.
The SMU Libraries and SMU Literati, a student club specialising in literature, books and poetry, also curated a selection of women authors and filmmakers, and a woman artist — Jane Lee — from the SMU Art Collection. Meanwhile, the SMU community celebrated women in their lives via virtual appreciation portal SMILE and shared inspirational stories on the University’s social media network Yammer by the Human Resources and Faculty Administration (HRFA).
This year’s celebration also coincided with the induction of SMU President Professor Lily Kong into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame. Launched in 2014 by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, the Hall of Fame recognises and salutes outstanding women of Singapore in all fields of endeavour.
Past honourees include pioneer artist Georgette Chen, champion of civil society Constance Singam, Senior Vice President of Banyan Tree Holdings Claire Chiang, and President of Singapore Halimah Yacob.
“We're fortunate that girls and boys have equal opportunity to access education,” said Professor Kong in her welcome remarks for the SMU Women Alumni Leaders panel.
“At university level, a roughly equal number of males and females are enrolled for undergraduate study. In fact, at SMU, perhaps by virtue of the fact that STEM disciplines form a smaller part of our overall offerings, we have consistently more female students enrolled than male students.”
Professor Kong became Singapore's first female university provost in 2015 when she was appointed as the Provost of SMU. When she was named SMU's fifth president three years later, she became the first Singaporean to lead the 22-year-old institution.
During her time at SMU, she has spearheaded several initiatives aimed at improving the quality of the university's students and staff, as well as the university's educational and research programmes. New interdisciplinary major tracks and the SMU Academy for working people were among her many accomplishments as SMU president, as was the overhaul of the university's undergraduate core curriculum.
At the Hall of Fame induction event at the Istana, Singapore President Halimah Yacob presented Professor Kong with a trophy dubbed the "Flame." The Flame represents the enduring power of the women in the Hall of Fame and the inspiration they provide to future generations, and is the latest accolade to have been awarded to Professor Kong during her tenure as SMU President. She has received the Public Service Star (Bintang Bakti Masyarakat) award at the National Day Awards 2020, and was recognised on Forbes Asia's Power Businesswomen list 2020, and Forbes inaugural 50 over 50 (Asia 2020).
Read a collection of profiles in Women in SMU.