Come sundown on August 21, the Shangri-La Singapore ballroom was business as usual: A constellation of couture-clad society ladies flanked by posh penguin-suited gents; the bustle of butlers and the clicking of camera crew …
But over and above the fabulous frocks and champagne clinking, the evening was shot through with real heart and real soul, as Her World marked 55 full years of being, as deputy editor Justin Cheong so passionately put it, “the stylish woman achiever’s best friend since 1960”.
Indeed, for all the pomp and pageantry, the soiree was far from stuffy. Instead, what stood out was a sense of all-abiding love for society at large, starting from the soul-stirring speech by our Guest of Honour, Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament.
In a fittingly full-circle sort of way, Mdm Halimah spoke of the pleasure she felt at feting both Her World’s birthday and the two winners tonight – because she herself was once a conferee of the august award: “The Her World Woman of the Year award is something close to my heart, as I was one of its recipients. Since its inception 24 years ago, which is almost a quarter of a century, the Her World Woman of the Year award has been honouring women’s roles and gifts, their strengths and passions, as well as their accomplishments and spirit.”
Then there’s Mdm Halimah’s perfectly pull quote-worthy call to arms for the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed belles that night: “Gender is no longer a basis of comparison. We believe women can and do make valuable contributions, like our male counterparts, to our society. We, too, shape and mould the future of our country and even the world, and there are now many successful women in all sectors of the economy.” A #WhoRunTheWorld, Beyonce-level battle cry, don’t you think?
Meet your new role models
Simply the best, better than all the rest: From left, Ms Maureen Wee, Managing Director, Lifestyle Division at SPH Magazines; Mdm Zuraidah Abdullah, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police; Ms Jennie Chua, Chairperson of Her World Woman of the Year Judging Committee; Ms Priscilla Shunmugam; and Mr Justin Cheong, Deputy Editor of Her World
All of which makes for a splendid segue to the lovely luminaries you’re about to be acquainted with. Now, before we introduce you to your new role models, here’s what you should know about the judging benchmarks and prizes proper.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Ms Jennie Chua, chairperson of the judging committee, says the panel appraises the shortlisted candidates on qualities which are universal and timeless; qualities which make them “inspirational role models to other women”.
Indeed, when all is said and done, the Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever awards are accorded to go-getting women who are ahead of the game; whose achievements in their working and public lives have made a mark on society; who are essentially stewards of Singapore – challenging criteria, to say the least!
So yes, raise a glass to – drumroll, please – the Her World Woman of the Year 2015, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Zuraidah Abdullah; and the Her World Young Woman Achiever 2015, award-winning fashion designer Priscilla Shunmugam.
Now for the briefest of dossiers: In 2013, Zuraidah punched a cavernous crater in the glass ceiling to emerge as the first woman ever to hold the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police – the third-highest rank in the Singapore Police Force.
Zuraidah’s also the first woman ever to be appointed Commander of the Airport Police Division, where she’s the #LadyBoss responsible for the security of all three of Changi Airport’s existing terminals – not to mention the safety of the 50 million-odd tourists and travellers who pass through our boarding gates each year.
Shaking your head in awe? Zuraidah wants boardroom warriors everywhere to have faith and fortitude: “I know it can be hard juggling many roles – as a working woman, a mother, a sister – but if you have strong determination, you will achieve what you set out to do. Just like the Malay saying, Di mana ada kemahuan, di situ ada jalan.”
Meanwhile, Priscilla is an exhilarating embodiment of a leaper of faith, leaving her lucrative lawyerly livelihood (as Ms Jennie Chua drily noted, “her parents weren’t thrilled”) to become a bona fide doyenne of design; to date, she has released six collections, and her designs have been shown at Paris Fashion Week, the Audi Fashion Festival and Singapore Fashion Week.
Emblematic #QOTD from the never-say-dier: “When these opportunities present themselves, you have to make a decision – do you want to grab and go, or do you want to sit and whine? The decision has been very easy for me to make. I just need to go, go fast and keep going.” Yes, M’dam!
At the end of the evening, we were left with a good sense of just who Zuraidah Abdullah and Priscilla Shunmugam were: Singaporean sisters bound by a singular sense of commitment to doing what they do best. Incredible individuals in their own right, and well deserving of their newly minted status.
Picture (left to right): Mr Loh Yew Seng, CEO, SPH Magazines; Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament; Ms Priscilla Shunmugam; Mdm Zuraidah Abdullah, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police; Mr Alan Chan, Chairman, SPH Magazines and CEO, Singapore Press Holdings; and Mr Justin Cheong, Deputy Editor of Her World. Image: Her World
And guess what, you’ll get first dibs on the success stories behind these two stellar superwomen in the September issue of Her World and on our dedicated microsite very soon – teaser: The tales involve trekking and terrorists; couturiers and crime novels! – so watch this space.
Some final words before we sign off. This night was at its core a celebration of the many women (and men) who have sought to deliver the very best women’s manual every month (or every day, for us folks at herworldPLUS); a celebration, indeed, of the reams upon reams and bytes upon bytes of insider info and forward-thinking features we’ve proffered through the years.
So here’s a hearty hurrah from all of us at Her World and www.herworldplus.com; more good reads flipping and clicking your way real soon!
Want more? Browse a comprehensive compendium of the great women who have been bestowed with the honour of being Her World’s Woman of the Year, and check out all of the ace activities we’ve got up our sleeves as we continue to celebrate our 55th birthday this year.
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