After just a few minutes of chatting with Eunice Olsen, it’s easy to see why the former Nominated Member of Parliament, beauty queen, actress and television host, is so well-loved by her fans. She is honest, funny, down to earth, resilient and deeply empathetic.
It’s perhaps this last quality that motivated and sustained her commitment to lend a helping hand to those in need. As we chatted with Eunice, it’s apparent that she is passionate about the social work programmes that she is involved with.
She said, “People that I’ve met inspire me and never fail to show me the true testament of what the human spirit can achieve. They do it with all these obstacles which they don’t even consider as obstacles and they do so much more.”
As we chatted with Eunice, it was apparent that she is passionate about the social work programmes that she is involved with. In addition to individuals with disabilities and special needs, she is also extremely vocal about the need to empower women. Five years ago, Eunice took the leap and poured her savings into an online video series WomenTalk to celebrate the social empowerment of women.
Having been inspired by a slew of strong Asian women she had met over the course of her work, including her WomenTalk series, Eunice was determined to spread the message of strength and resilience to a younger audience.
Her new self-published children’s book “I’m a Girl. See what I can be!” was born after a year and a half of hard work. It celebrates the lives of ten inspiring women whom Eunice had interviewed for her online video series WomenTalk through carefully crafted poetry.
They include Paralympian Theresa Goh; founder of social enterprise ExtraOrdinary Horizons Lily Goh; and founder of Save Elephant Foundation Sangduen Chailert. The book also features illustrations by ten artists with autism aged 14 to 31.
For Eunice, the book brings together three issues that are close to her heart: women’s empowerment, special needs and music.
“My dad was the first feminist in my life”
When asked if she has personally encountered instances of gender bias, Eunice told us that her abilities were underestimated by a male crew member who passed snide remarks when she took on a directing gig.
She acknowledged that while there are movements like the Me Too movement, “one movement doesn’t make gender equality” and the “message of women empowerment is not always there” especially in developing countries.
Eunice expressed that while girls in Singapore are fortunate enough to have access to education, there are still issues like marital rape that needs to be addressed. She added that she is thankful to grow up with strong role models and parents who never stopped her from doing anything just because she is female.
That is why she hopes to encourage girls to have courage and strength when faced with adversity. She wants younger readers to feel the power and strength that she felt when interviewing the women on WomenTalk. There is also a QR code that readers can scan to watch the interviews from her programme.
Even though female empowerment is an underlying theme in the book, Eunice was quick to add that this book is “not just for girls but for all children and the poems in the book resonate with values that are applicable to both boys and girls.”
Eunice describes the book as her “personal journey and is a reflection of how she feels.” The book is a culmination of her wealth of personal and professional experiences. For her, the Miss Universe pageant got her involved in volunteering and working with the youths and she continued such efforts as an actress, host, former Nominated Member of Parliament and now author.
But you don’t have to be a beauty queen or media personality to effect change, “Everybody has a different path and everyone’s role is different in life. It’s the little things we do when we do that make a big difference”, she said.
When asked if she had any advice for young girls, Eunice who is currently working on volume two of the book and filming a documentary series for Channel News Asia (airing early next year) had this to say, “Don’t be afraid of people and hardship. Be fearless but remember other people who are not as fearless as you and give them courage.”
“I’m a Girl. See what I can be!” retails for $18.60 and is available at Kinokuniya, Kindle, Booktique and Closetful of Book. It will also be released on Audible in October.