This year, we celebrate International Women’s day with a series of eight interviews that feature inspiring women who represent the modern empowered woman. In Part One of the series, we speak to Jaelle Ang, Trina Liang-Lin, Judith Knight and Claire Jedrek. Look out for Part Two, on Monday 11 March.
Trina Liang-Lin, 47, activist, managing director of Templebridge Investments and CEO of Halo Health Asia
She is a dynamo with the ability to influence others and situations and enable change for the better. In the time that Trina Liang-Lin, served as the president of the Singapore Committee for UN Women (2010 – 2018), she oversaw the UN team that was instrumental in the establishment of two key advocacy milestones within the Singapore government. Her ability to impact industries, shift mindsets and affect nation-wide statistics is almost legendary, overshadowed perhaps, by her capacity for giving back to society. Together with her husband, she was named Forbes Asia’s 2018 heroes of philanthropy – the latest in a string of philanthropic awards that includes being one of eight recipients of the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards last year.
Her polymathic achievements run the gamut of being an outspoken advocate for wage parity and gender issues to chairing or being a board member of multiple, diverse organisations such as Sentosa Development Corporation (audit committee), the Community Foundation of Singapore, National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) board of directors, the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations (SCWO), the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT), the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), to name a few.
Yet with all these commitments, Liang-Lin is still able to establish, launch and drive the World Food Future (WFF) for Women, a one-day conference held this month to draw attention to the global food situation from the scientific, innovation and policy-making perspectives At the same time, WFF hopes to also engage the woman on the street with panel discussions on topics closer to home, like nutritional updates for children.
What is the World Food Future for Women? What will it do for the layperson?
World Food Future (WFF) for Women really hopes to enlighten the layperson on both micro and macro issues that are happening in our food world. The micro issues are your own nutrition particularly your children’s. The macro issues are global food sustainability and food security. The conference also looks at the future of food in 10 years (2030) and 30 years (2050) – which in turn impacts you and your future generations.
What is the motivation for launching it?
From personal experience I’ve seen how poor health can affect a family. When I was young, my grandmother and mother died of diabetes complications and cancer, respectively. I believe the young should be empowered to learn more about their food world, regardless of socio-economic background.
Having co-founded the Financial Women’s Association Singapore in 2001, has the industry progressed in terms of gender representation since?
I first wrote in the Business Times about the low representation of women on boards back in 2005. At that point, the percentage of women on boards was 5.1% or thereabouts and we have since more than doubled that percentage. So indeed there is progress.
However, as co-chair of BoardAgender, we put down a target of 20% by 2020. That’s probably not going to happen organically. Mothers, certainly are an important subgroup, as we look to enable more women on boards (as more women take time off to look after young children).
We have turned the corner in the last five years to create huge awareness amongst companies, that taking time off as mothers should never be detrimental to any career trajectory in the financial sector or otherwise.
Where can improvements be made, besides gender parity?
I like that the government is taking child care very seriously in the last two years extending to all social economic status. This can only help working mothers.
Will Singapore ever be in the list of best countries for women to work in?
I think it really comes down to which report you’re reading – because there are some reports that rank Singapore very high for example, UN Human Development Report and US News and World Report. There is absolutely no question that Singapore has made gender equality a national priority in the last 50 years of independence in almost every sphere of life: Education, employment, legal rights to name a few.
What do you think is the most important value for a happy and successful life?
Kindness, even to people that have wronged you – and the ability to let things go. Both are not easy to do and take practice.
What do you hope to achieve in 2019?
That the inaugural WFF conference is a success and the subsequent roll out to primary schools from Q2 2019 is an even bigger success!
What advice would you give to mothers struggling with motherhood and career?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone – everyone’s journey is different, be your own pacemaker and never let go of our dreams!
Photography TONY TING PHOTOGRAPHY
Styling XINDI SIAU
Hair and Makeup FIONA B MAKEUP
Location THE GREAT ROOM (NGEE ANN CITY)