To celebrate and commemorate International Women’s Day Twitter is bringing back their Southeast Asia-wide #SheInspiresMe campaign to highlight the unique voices of women on the platform who #BreakTheBias and #OwnIt.
To kick-off this campaign, Twitter will shine a spotlight on individuals who, “through the challenges they face in their respective fields, still manage to inspire and empower others on the service, and #BreakTheBias.”
Twitter has put together a list of important women voices in the region you may want to follow.
Tammy Tang (@furrryfish) – Gamer, Founder of Female eSports League (FSL)
An avid gamer and the founder of Female eSports League (FSL), advises that one of the ways to break the bias is to be mindful about the language you use, even the terms that are seemingly normalised by society.
“Sometimes, while gaming, I get comments that are meant to be compliments but contain unconscious biases in them. For example, comments like ‘she’s really good at gaming – for a girl’ subtly convey that women are poor gamers by default,” she said.
Eunice Olsen (@euniceolsen) – Founder of Eunice Olsen Media
Breaking gender biases requires a collective and unified effort, and Eunice Olsen, founder of Eunice Olsen Media, former Nominated Member of Parliament in Singapore, and an advocate for women’s empowerment, firmly believes that the onus of breaking these biases shouldn’t solely fall on women but on society as a whole.
“The media plays a very key role in shaping how young women perceive themselves and their role in society, and sometimes, this can seed biases that develop into internalised misogyny. However, I’m encouraged that International film and media content is starting to change the way women are portrayed on screen. Media has to be more cognisant in challenging gender norms and also calling out these biases in reporting as well as content,” said Olsen.
Neo Mei Lin (@MeilinNeo) – Senior Research Fellow at the Tropical Marine Science Institute, at the National University of Singapore
One such consequence of gender biases at the workplace is women feeling excluded, especially in predominantly male settings.
Neo Mei Lin candidly said, “As a young Asian female, I have felt left out in many global academic-related meetings and discussions, and feeling excluded at work led to experiencing a lot of anxiety and self-doubt on the worthiness of my scientific research. I also feel that the more hierarchical work environment in academia has contributed towards the unconscious biases and discrimination against women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which in turn impedes career progression.”
In addition, forming communities and support groups where women inspire and uplift each other also paves the way for Singapore as she makes strides towards a gender equal future.
Jemimah Wei (@JemmaWei) – Writer and Host
Jemimah Wei is currently finishing her novel and has found a writer’s community for herself on Twitter.
“Twitter is the writer’s platform. We basically live there. It’s where we connect, celebrate each other, and discover writing opportunities. During the pandemic, we commiserated, we conferenced, we found delight in each other’s words and stories. I derive great comfort in knowing that no matter where I am geographically, I have my people with me,” explains Jemimah.
For Wei, the women she looks up to are her tribe of writing pals — Vanessa Chan (@vanjchan), Gina Chung (@ginathechung), and Grace Shuyi Liew (@g_liew).
“We’re a mix of Southeast Asian and Asian American female writers who found each other on Twitter and forged deep friendships after,” said Wei.
“Not only are they all excellent writers, I have immense respect for the way they support and uplift other Asian writers online, even as they continue to grow and achieve. I love that I can look to my peers as inspirations and companions in this long writing journey.
Nazhath Faheema (@nazhath_faheema) – Founder and President of hash.peace
“As a social harmony advocate, I think Twitter allows me to connect with other peace advocates from around the world,” said Faheema.
“I follow interfaith practitioners and like-minded young people committed to peace and harmony, and connecting with the many female youth advocates worldwide has helped keep my spirit high in the work I do towards better understanding different religious and racial groups.”
On women who inspire and empower her, she says, “Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore for sure! I admire the course of the path she has taken with her career, service for people and leadership. As a Muslim woman, I relate to someone like her. She makes me think about more than just myself and my family.”
Corinna Lim – AWARE’s (@awarenews) Executive Director
“It’s important to not only assist women and girls on an individual level, for example through counselling and free legal advice, but also tackle gender inequality on a systemic level, by presenting our research to policy-makers in the hopes that this gender lens will inform legislation. This multi-faceted approach to female empowerment is crucial as all too often, the onus is placed on individual women to overcome structural injustices through sheer personal effort and grit.”
Each was asked to offer one piece of advice for the next generation of women
Eunice Olsen – “As a woman, you don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations. You get to define who you are and what you want to do in your life. Know that YOU are enough.”
Jemimah Wei – “Seek out and celebrate each other. No matter what life throws at you, it will be better withstood with friends by your side. Strong female friendships are the wellspring of joy, they govern our ethics, they make for not just better lives, but a better world.”
Mei Lin – “Being emotionally driven is not a disadvantage. Instead, it is what makes us (women) more successful as global leaders – being empathetic, nurturing, and perceptive to both men and women situations.”
Nazhath Faheema – “Listen to yourself first before listening to the world around you. If you do not know what you want, then you cannot empower yourself.”
Tammy Tang – “Know very clearly why you’re doing what you’re doing. Also, don’t be too quick to jump to the conclusion that things are/are not happening because of your gender. When gender is always used as a reason for why something happens, it can become a blindfold that stops us from examining weaknesses that can be worked on.”