This International Women's Day, we are honoured to have a chance to speak to former Nominated Member of Parliament and Miss Singapore Universe 2000, Eunice Olsen. A very energetic and charismatic woman with a positive disposition, we are truly inspired after this interview with Eunice. Read on to find out more about her online interview series, WomenTalk TV, as well as her thoughts on empowerment of women and gender equality.
Thank you for this interview, Eunice! Tell us a little about WomenTalk TV, what made you decide to start this online series?
Back in 2011, I was hosting a show in which I interviewed one lady about her weight loss management programme. She shared with me that her husband did not want to bring her out of the house because she had put on a lot of weight. At that point of time, I took her words at face value and I felt angry for her. But at the same time, I also realised that my job as a host is to tell stories, not to judge people for whatever they do. That very evening after the interview, I started to think about other women who might have gone through similar situations or experienced certain struggles, but do not have the outlet to talk about them. As women, we tend to like to talk (which is also why I chose the name "WomenTalk"!), but we do not talk about issues that affect us deeply and sometimes it can be very difficult to talk about them too.
So I wanted to create a platform where women can come together and have honest conversations about their lives; talk about what they have been through and struggles they have faced; a platform where we can empower, inspire and draw strength from each other. Because there are certain things only we as women can understand and relate to. When you can relate, you would realise that you are not alone and there are other women who are in similar situations too. A Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media survey shows that 90% of the women find that female role models in film and television are important to them; they are inspired to be more courageous and ambitious. As representation of role models on media is very important, so I thought that I can provide an extra leg up and this is how WomenTalk started.
We all know how passionate you are with your work. What keeps you motivated and committed?
Being born in Singapore, we are very blessed and fortunate to have opportunities that a lot of people don't have. So whenever things get a little too tough and I feel like giving up, I always ask myself if someone else were to have the same opportunities as I do, like a girl from a developing country, for example, she would never want to give up and instead push it to the limit. Therefore I always remind myself that I shouldn't waste the opportunities and platform I have.
As a host, you have done so many interviews with various extraordinary individuals. Can you share with us one or two interviews that left a very deep impression on you?
We have interviewed around 85 women in Asia and every interview I did is very special to me. I feel that it's a privilege to be given the permission to take a peek into their lives and they trust me enough to share with me what's on their minds too. I can't pick one because everyone is different and special in their own way; be it Paralympians, single mothers, social entrepreneurs, women in STEM fields etc. Every woman I interviewed is so beautiful and incredible, yet super humble in their own way. I'm able to sense the strength from them during the interview and I always leave the interview feeling very inspired and powerful. There's just something about every WomenTalk woman that we feel very inspired by.
International Women's Day 2019's campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter. It is about the collective effort to build a gender-balanced world. What are some ways you think we can do to help accelerate gender equality?
Firstly, we should not look at gender equality and feminism as something against men; this is not about women versus men. When it comes to gender equality, men play a very important role too. What they say to the women around them and how they provide support matters. I don't think we need to go all out to start a movement, because there are already so many movements out there. We can create change one step at a time, starting from ourselves. We can start by looking at the language we use on our young children and people around us. For example, if a boy wants to choose pink or a girl wants to play with trucks, let them be. Kids should be taught to be gender-neutral.
What is your definition of empowerment and strength?
To be fearless. Fearlessness is something I think is very powerful. To be fearless and humble, I think that's real power and real strength. I believe that true power lies in humility. A woman who is fearless of what other people says and what society defines her is very powerful and inspiring.
Who is your role model and why?
My mother. She's really very fearless and she's never afraid to speak her mind. She's also a very strong and energetic woman who has been through a lot and worked really very hard. She used to take on 2 jobs 7 days a week for 21 years because she wanted me to learn the piano. This is why till now I still play the piano, because of her.
Any mantra to live by?
Don't despair and keep going when things don't go right. My mother always tells me, "Don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself, just move on with life; you have better things to do with your life."
What do you hope to tell every woman who is reading this article?
We should be more proud of who we are! We generally tend to have lower self-esteem and do not celebrate ourselves enough. Unlike men, we often question ourselves about our own capabilities and do not give ourselves enough credit. We women should support each other instead of looking at each other as competition because we can destroy ourselves more than any man can.