Strong ‘sisterhood’ can drive momentum

Trina Liang-Lin is the CEO at Halo Health Asia based in Singapore. Till recently the President of UN Women in Singapore, she believes that more male advocates are required in achieving the sustainable goal of gender balance.

What according to you are the successes of gender equality movement which gathered momentum towards the end of the last decade?
I’ve seen an amazing change in the landscape for gender equality. 10 years ago, the term “gender equality” was used mainly by civil society groups and was very much on the fringes of business and government. Fast forward to today, and thanks to the #metoo movement as well as an awakening in ESG investing – gender equality is a global movement and front and centre of most company and government policy. From equal pay to equal representation in the board room – the voices are loud are clear. There is now a clear path to gender equality and local advocates for almost every country in the world.

At the start of this decade, what would be your three priorities for gender equal workplaces?
– better childcare facilities
– more open discussion about pay at every level
– more women in boardrooms and top management

How important is the role of men in this movement and what according to you should organisations do to involve them?
Men are the other 50% of the equation but have a disproportionately higher mindshare and voice at the moment in the business and political world – so involving men is imperative. I’ve found that when men mentor younger women – something generally clicks and they become advocates. They don’t need to look far – they would probably want equal opportunities for their wives, daughters and sisters.

How important is the concept of “Sisterhood” in accelerating change?
The strong momentum we see in gender equality today really couldn’t have happened without such a strong global sisterhood. From popular actresses in Hollywood to women in the world of business, politics and civil society giving a strong voice to the issues. From young women – some of them still in school, to women who have already left the workforce but still believe that they should stand up for the next generation of women. It takes a sisterhood to drive and continue the momentum.

Do you think we need a young champion like Greta Thunberg for this cause as well?
We could always do with more voices – it can only help the cause!