Shining the spotlight on 9 inspiring women who are building the #CityofGood.

Hanako Sawayama

Image Credit: Special Olympics Asia Pacific

Born with intellectual disabilities, Hanako had a difficult childhood and was bullied in school. She struggled to make friends, and was meek, quiet, and lacked confidence. The turning point came and sports transformed her life when she joined Special Olympics at the age of 14. Representing Singapore in bowling at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland, she returned home a champion. Today, at 41, she is an active advocate and valued member of staff with the Special Olympics Asia Pacific regional office.

Now, I am a thriving athlete who is stronger, more confident and no longer afraid to talk to people. I express my ideas without the fear of being bullied. I always have a smile on my face.

Special Olympics Asia Pacific

Anthea Indira Ong

This word embodies Anthea’s aspirations and life-loving spirit. This season of “Becoming” began after her life took a downward spin when her marriage and business failed at the same time leaving her with only $16 in her bank. During this time, she chose to focus not on what she had lost but on who she is and what she has – her family, friends, skills, resources and values. Picking up the practice of silence and active volunteerism also helped her grow and focus on what truly matters. Committed to becoming a better human to serve and love, she has learned that life is a movement of transient moments, of seasons.

Where I am, I shall be all that I can be.

Good Space

Dipa Swaminathan

One has to be determined and authentic when committing to a cause – any hesitation or wavering in the sense of mission or purpose would compromise the cause. For Dipa, this means keeping basic necessities such as raincoats, sun hats and t-shirts in her car boot so that she is always ready to help migrant workers anywhere and anytime she encounters them. Despite motherhood and a full-time stint as a lawyer, she started Itsrainingraincoats to provide migrant workers with basic necessities. She quashes the noting that one can be too busy to volunteer.

Make time, not excuses!


Wu Jiezhen

Jiezhen believes all of us come from a place of possibility rather than limitation. She values the importance of opening oneself up to a multitude of pathways and solutions, rather than merely what might seem like the most obvious way forward. This allows her to be more creative as a leader, and to challenge the perceptions of what being a #girlboss might look like.

I can be strong and soft, caring and courageous, purposeful and present, all at the same time.

The Hidden Good

Nurul Jihadah Hussain

As a minority/Muslim woman, Nurul believes she and others like her have an equal right to success and that an increased knowledge in tech will help achieve this equality. With that in mind, she founded The Codette Project, a group who champions this by building an ecosystem that empowers minority/Muslim women through building skills, shaping narratives and developing a collaborative community committed to success.

No matter what you look like, you deserve success.

The Codette Project

Elizabeth Koh

Despite her young age, Elizabeth cares deeply for the state of families in Singapore. Together with other youths, they formed Team Solidarity 家 under Citi-YMCA Youth for Causes to raised awareness and funds to champion for strong families – their campaign raised over $18,000. She believes that it comes full circle to bless others, because they in turn bless her too.

When I give others a helping hand, they in turn give me their hand to hold. Without the help of those around, my projects wouldn’t be successful.

Team Solidarity 家

Ean Yeo

Ean, a mother of two, chose a career break to concentrate on childcare but she re-entered the workforce when a flexible work arrangement came her way. For the past two decades, she has worn different hats such as mum, working professional and community volunteer. The desire to empower other mums to excel in multiple roles led Ean to start the non-profit organisation WEWAM with the support of other mums. Women Empowered for Work And Mothering (WEWAM) was set up to equip mums to excel both at work and at home. Since 2011, Ean together with her volunteers and supporters have conducted programmes that empower both working mums and stay-home mothers who desire to work.

My work-life journey has brought me great fulfilment and I wish many more women can achieve work-life success

Women Empowered for Work And Mothering

Noor Mastura

Noor Mastura had to support her family when she was 17. It was a trying time of enduring homelessness and sometimes, hunger. This period in her life eventually led her to start two non-profits, Back2Basics and Interfaith Youth Circle In both, her co-founders were women. She realises that having a network of supportive women is important.

Sometimes we women hurt our own. We see our sisters up there and out there and wish otherwise for them. We need to support our women. We need to empower them. Love them & root for them. There is a powerful unseen strength that nourishes our soul when we stand for one another.

President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards Youth Winner 2016

Long Kiew Joon

Being a nurse in palliative care at Assisi Hospice for over 18 years, Kiew Joon finds it both a joy and privilege to journey with patients and their caregivers. A compassionate view of humanity is her guiding outlook in life, and it has allowed her to form deep bonds with the people she meets at work. She has been invited to share in the intimate moments of her patients and their family members’ lives, such as being part of a wedding. Nursing is a perfect fit as Kiew Joon has always wanted a job that cares for people and gives back to the community.

I have grown in love and humility, learning from those I meet.

Assisi Hospice