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First female Brigadier-General in SAF among eight honoured in Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame

Gan Siow Huang joins track and field stars, celebrated writers and educators as trailblazing women who set an example for others.

For the past five years, the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame, an extension of the Singapore Council for Women’s Organisations (SCWO) Wall of Fame launched in 2005, has recognised extraordinary women who forged their own paths to achievement, who bust gender confines to lead, and who have made impactful changes with their determination, creativity and heart. Among the 152 luminaries are headlining names such as former Singapore ambassador to the US Chan Heng Chee, Banyan Tree group co-founder Claire Chiang, dancer Goh Soo Khim, scientist Jackie Yi-Ru Ying, and activist Noeleen Heyzer.

Eight more were honoured in a packed ballroom at The St. Regis Singapore on March 23, representing fields as diverse as education and the military, radio journalism and track and field. Said guest of honour Singapore President Halimah Yacob: “I am encouraged by the strides that women in Singapore are taking in many areas over the years, and breaking boundaries, including male-dominated industries. Indeed, women are now broadening their horizons, with more joining science and technology-based employment and the uniformed services.”

To further support women’s endeavours, she officially launched the Seeds of Change Fund to help women’s organisations develop and expand programmes. Said Dr June Goh, president of SCWO which will be administering the fund, the focus this year will be on projects that look into women’s employment and health.

Below, the eight inspiring personalities who, according to President Halimah, “inspire our young women that there are no boundaries, and you can excel in any field that you choose so long as you’re prepared to put your heart and soul into it.”

  • First female Brigadier-General in the SAF
    Gan Siow Huang (1974)

    No one was surprised when Gan Siow Huang became the first female Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces in July 2015. By this time she had already garnered many firsts in the SAF. Her military career began in 1993, when she was one of the first four women to ever receive the SAF Merit Scholarship, which was previously awarded only to men. In 2003, she rose up the ranks to became the first female commander of the Air Surveillance and Control Group. In 2010, Siow Huang was also the first female military officer to be sent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, where she got a Master of Business Administration.

    “I think there’s greater awareness and receptivity of women in the military now. When I joined the SAF 25 years ago, there was hardly any female Commanding Officers. Today, we have females in almost every vocation in the SAF, and there are a number of female COs at any one time. I hope that more women will join the SAF and continue to push boundaries in the military. I believe that women can play a part in protecting Singapore,” she says.

Read about Singapore’s ground-breaking women in The Peak Power List 2015