The Contribution Of Women To Our Uniformed Services In Singapore Cannot Be Ignored
Let this sink in: for every 93 men in the Singapore Armed Forces, there are 7 women.
And this number continues to grow steadily. A record number of women joined the force in 2014.
That year, some 140 women put on a uniform and joined the effort to ensure Singapore’s safety and security.
Here are 5 Singaporean women who went against the grain and chose a career that’s typically thought to be male-dominated.
And they are crushin’ it.
1. Senior Warrant Officer (SWO), Jennifer Tan, 52, Armour, The Singapore Army
SWO Tan is the first female Chief Warrant Officer among over 500 personnel from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the SAF being promoted this year.
From the tender age of 9, she would accompany her late father, First Warrant Officer (Ret) Tan Hock Hai, to his workplace at the Tanglin Detention Barrack.
Those trips sparked her passion to join SAF in 1984 at age 18.
Two years after the army recruited its first female combatants in 1986, she finally seized her chance and applied for the Women’s Combat Scheme.
Over the years in the Armour formation, she has risen through the ranks and is set to become the SAF’s first female Chief Warrant Officer.
She felt that SAF has opened up more opportunities for women over the years, as long as they demonstrate their ability, commitment and passion.
2. Major (MAJ), Nah Jinping, 31, Pilot, The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)
MAJ Nah has smashed the ‘brass ceiling’ to become the first and only female operational F-15 fighter pilot in RSAF, with more than 400 flying hours under her belt.
She holds the distinction of being the first woman who is able to take part in military combat or operations.
The masters degree holder in learning technologies from the University of Michigan said that her initial ambition was to become a lawyer. However, she changed her mind and took up a SAF scholarship as she does not want to be tied to a desk-bound job.
She commented that the physical differences between her and her colleagues are rather stark.
Being physically petite, higher G-forces experienced on missions sometimes takes a toll on her body.
However, she opines that there are no differences in terms of flying skills and professional knowledge between the genders.
Most of all, she enjoys flying despite its challenges, as flying can feel tranquil and serene at times — especially when she’s flying over the vast night sky.
3. Brigadier-General (BG), Gan Siow Huang, 43, Air Warfare Officer (AWO) (C3), RSAF
BG Gan was appointed the first female general in SAF in 2015, and is now the Head of Air Intelligence and Director of Special Projects.
Looking for a career that offered adventure and meaning, BG Gan knew the SAF would be the right place to find it.
She was one of the first four women to receive the SAF merit scholarship in 1993, when it was opened to females.
After graduating from the London School of Economics, she rose through the ranks in the RSAF, where she drafted policies and commanded the RSAF’s 203 squadron and Air Surveillance and Control Group.
The mother of three hopes that her promotion will show that women can have successful careers in the SAF — thereby encouraging more women in Singapore to join the armed forces.
4. Colonel (COL), Jerica Goh, 43, Naval Officer, The Republic of Singapore Navy
Overseeing a naval warship is no easy feat, COL Goh has charted high seas and is the highest-ranking female naval officer since 2017.
She never thought of becoming a Naval Officer as a child. A career in the Navy piqued her interest when she knew that she’d get the chance to work on a ship and to be a part of the tight-knitted team to serve and defend Singapore.
She joined the Navy in 1993 and became the first female commanding officer (CO) of a frigate when she took charge of RSS Supreme — the navy’s most advanced warship, in 2013.
She led a search-and-rescue operation for AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in December 2014.
COL Goh is a living embodiment of an aspiration penned in a time capsule 25 years ago by a fellow female naval officer — to have female officers command ships and units.
After her many years of service, she thinks that gender doesn’t matter as much as decision-making skills and physical ability.
5. Senior Assistant Commissioner, Zuraidah Abdullah, 55, Senior Police Officer, Singapore Police Force (SPF)
In 2013, Madam Zuraidah was appointed the first woman to hold the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police in SPF.
This turned out to be just another feather in her cap.
She also took on the mantle of these positions:
- Head Operations of Central Police Division, Commander of Jurong Land Division
- Chairman of the Malay Heritage Foundation’s board of directors since 2010
- First woman council member of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore in 2007
She served as Chief Executive for self-help group Yayasan Mendaki — they organise education workshops for students in troubled families.
Since young, she was actively involved in the National Cadet Corps in school. Thus, the transition to a career in the force later on was a cinch.
Being promised a dynamic vocation, a life less ordinary and a departure from monotony and repetition, Madam Zuraidah knew that being a police officer was, undoubtedly, the best choice for her.
Kudos to them
Here are at least 5 walking examples of awe-inspiring women who overcame the odds and were rewarded with fulfilling careers in the army.
Who says women aren’t fit for uniforms?