18th March 2016 was the day we inducted another 14 outstanding women into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame (SWHF) at our International Women’s Day Celebration.

With the 2016 theme, “Marching to Our Own Beat” being such an appropriate theme to honour these 14 Inspiring Women comprising two Supreme Court Judges, six Sportswomen, two Food Personalities, a Diplomat, an Activist/Advocate, a Medical Aid Worker and a Community/Social Worker. These women truly exemplified the evening’s theme.

The celebration started with the MINDS Taiko Drum Troupe rousing welcome performance for our Guest of Honour, Mrs Mary Tan, Patron of SCWO, and a little later on, the Singapore Symphony

Children’s Choir gave a delightful performance.

From left to right: Eleanor Clunies-Ross, Malathi Das, Mrs Mary Tan, Mary Beatrice Klass, Janet Jesudason, Claudine Rodriguez (representing Gloria Beck)

For the honourees, it was an evening of reunion. Three of the four pioneering runners, Eleanor Clunies-Ross, Janet Jesudason, and Mary Klass, who ran together with Gloria Beck in the 1950s were delighted to reunite with each other after so long, especially since Janet and Eleanor now live overseas.

Sadly, Gloria passed away recently in November 2015. We were very fortunate to unearth an old photograph from the 50s of the 4 amazing athletes together and we tried to recreate that same moment on stage – 60 years later, and for me, this was a very heart-warming and memorable moment.

The months and days leading up to this wonderful event were tiring and at times, trying. But seeing the event come together and watching this heartfelt reunion moment on stage, made it all worthwhile.

Once again, a well-deserved congratulation to the 2016 honourees!

Comments of some of the 2016 honourees on being inducted to the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame

Jayalekshmi Mohideen , First female career diplomat
“It is my honour to be among the Singapore galaxy of women stars; it is a showcase of women’s achievements from the early years and from all walks of life. This Hall of Fame should spur our younger generation, and those to come in the future, to strive to achieve the best for our society and country. The Hall of Fame comprises many role models for emulation by younger women.”

Ang Swee Chai, Orthopaedic surgeon and medical aid worker extraordinaire
“I was overwhelmed when told of this unexpected and undeserved honour, and immediately thought of all the women who had taught and nurtured me, and those who have been quietly working to give others the chance to live with dignity. Thank you SWHF for giving me the opportunity to thank everyone who has given me the courage and inspiration to believe and reach out knowing that we can all make this world a better place.”

Aziza Ali, Pioneer restaurateur and promoter of Malay culture
“I feel blessed and honoured about being inducted to the Hall of Fame. It is a fantastic way of appreciating those who dared to do different things in different ways, to start something new. In my case, I’m glad I’m being recognised for doing something that nobody did in my era. We went through so many challenges and succeeded for 24 years. It encourages younger people not to give up. When you want to achieve, go all the way. Help people as well. And fulfil your heart. It is like 3-in-1 coffee.”

Mary Klass, Pioneering athlete
“I am tremendously happy and proud that they remember my past achievement as a sprinter. I am very proud that after so many years, 50 years since the time I ran in the Asian games and the Olympics, they recognise me. It’s such a good honour, and it’s never too late. We were good sportswomen. The one who had given me the most support is my late husband. It will be good that my children and my grandchildren will be able to see my achievements.”

Tan Yoon Yin, Singapore’s first lady of netball
“I was very surprised. I never thought about all these things. I’m a nobody. I’m just an old woman of 87 years. The Hall of Fame encourages women to speak up and work harder, to contribute to the country and help society. Now women are educated too, not just the men. With this equality we must also help the country.”

Read their stories here:
Alice Pennefather, Ang Swee Chai, Aziza Ali, Eleanor Clunies-Ross, Gloria Beck, Janet Jesudason, Jayalekshmi Mohideen, Judith Prakash, Lai Siu Chiu, Mary Klass, May Wong, Tan Cheng Hiong, Tan Yoon Yin and Violet Oon.

If you have anyone in mind that you think deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, do tell us. Submit your nomination here.

Denise Balhetchet
SCWO Programme Executive