International Women's Day 2022
Updated: Feb 25, 2022
This month is International Women’s Day and we have a lot to celebrate. Our generation is the first to own decisions about our bodies and lifestyles; we can travel the world, work, study, have kids, be single, play sports, run a business, and more. These are choices our grandmother’s didn’t have. These are also choices that not every woman in the world enjoys.
This International Women’s Day we invite you to do one small thing to help improve the lives of less privileged women.
Celebrating a Privileged Life
I’m grateful for the privileged life I have. I’m proud to be the first woman in my family to earn a degree.
After graduation, I left Australia to start my career in the U.K. In 2017, after nearly a decade of working (and partying!) in London, my boss asked if I would relocate to Singapore for an APAC role. I jumped at the chance. Yes, it was an amazing professional opportunity but I was mostly attracted to the affordable childcare and easy lifestyle I’d read about. I was single but my clock was ticking. I wanted kids.
Fast forward five years and here I am, literally having it all - a satisfying job, great circle of friends, and a loving and growing family.
Our Helper, Mary
Not every woman enjoys the same privileges. Like many expat families, we have a live-in domestic worker who cleans our house and cares for our son. Her name is Mary. I never take it for granted that I couldn’t manage without her. Mary is amazing. She keeps our household running! But while she’s here, supporting our household, she is missing out on seeing her own children grow. She’s made the ultimate sacrifice.
Many Women Don’t Save Money
Mary’s story is not unique. There are over 250,000 Migrant domestic workers (MDWs) living in Singapore who come from the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka. They leave their families in hopes of creating a better future for them.
Many of these women spend years living and working in Singapore only to return home with no money due to a lack of financial savvy. Research shows only 6% of MDWs have saved enough by the time they return home after working abroad an average of 6 years. 60% return with only material goods or no savings at all.
This situation is completely unacceptable in the year 2022.
Aidha Gives the Gift of Education
I’m a huge supporter of Aidha, a registered charity in Singapore, which is on a mission to improve the lives of MDWs. They run courses on financial planning and business, and encourage entrepreneurship.
Aidha collect data from every student enrolled. For alumnae of their most advanced course on entrepreneurship, average monthly savings increase by nearly 80%. Alumnae also double the number of productive assets they own (i.e. land, livestock, buildings, vehicles) and business ownership rises from 6% to over 40%. These businesses operate in their home countries and many alumnae continue working as domestic workers in Singapore while running these businesses with their families.
The research also shows a strong multiplier effect, with each student at Aidha impacting on average 9 lives as they support dependents, invest and launch businesses and employ others in their business, as well as sharing what they have learned at Aidha with their family and friends.
Just as importantly, Aidha have built a wonderful sense of community at their physical and virtual campuses, so women can make friends and have fun. Because as we all know, leaving home to live abroad can be lonely.
You can learn more about the good stuff Aidha does in this video.
How Can You Help
Take an action this International Women’s Day to do something positive in support of women. Make a donation to Aidha or enroll your helper in one of their courses. To commemorate IWD, Aidha will also be running an exciting array of free classes to help MDWs thrive personally and financially. Check out some of their free courses here.
Contributed by committee members, Sara Kelly