Staff volunteers with students at the CapitaLand Daping Hope School, Guangdong

The advocacy for gender equality and access to equal opportunities in education for young women has come a long way. Today, while there are still challenges, encouraging progress has also been made. For example, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the number of girls and women who have gained access to education in the APAC region has increased significantly from 2000 to 2016. In this time, the number of female out-of-school children and youths in the region dropped by 67 million. Recent UN figures have also shown that about 2/3 of countries in the developing regions have achieved gender parity in primary education. 

It can only be true that equality is now no longer a distant dream. 

The Fight for a Dream

Halfway across the globe, advocates of education for girls have been brave - at the expense of their own lives, if that was what it took to stand firm. Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a gunman for advocating education for girls in 2012. Her recovery from this fatal act has been a sheer miracle, and just yesterday (29 March 2018), she returned to Pakistan, her native country for the first time in 6 years. Courageous and strong - Malala is one of the many heroes and advocates for human rights.

The Dream of Education

Closer to home, we're privileged to live in a much safer environment, where the fight for education and similar causes doesn't need to take on such extreme, heart-breaking forms. We can all do more to level the playing field by empowering women and lifting young women in our own ways. 

Joey Ng recognised this. As part of the Product Development and Design team at CapitaLand, she's well equipped with design and architectural knowledge surrounding our developments, and that was put to good use through the CapitaLand Young Architect Programme (CLYAP), where she mentored aspiring young architects. During the programme's student immersion segment (read live blog updates here!) Joey gave students an immersive, engaging tour to the site of Jewel Changi Airport, where they got a sneak peak of the latest upcoming lifestyle and retail destination, slated to open in 2019. Imagine seeing the project come alive right befor your eyes, and having a first look at just how grand the 14,000 sq m Canopy Park and the Forest Valley - Singapore's largest indoor garden - will be! 

Joey's commitment to the students through the CLYAP involved sharing in-depth knowledge of the building industry, and she also guided them on how to develop feasible solutions for the community. Funded by CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the programme aims to inspire the younger generation to play a role in shaping real estate of the future and sets out to empower the community in rethinking the design and infrastructure of public spaces in their neighbourhood through participatory design.

Joey Ng (first from left) showing the students around the upcoming Jewel Changi Airport
Head, Project Development for Jewel Changi Airport, Ashith Alva (third from left) giving students a first look at the plans for the lifestyle and retail destination

We are going places in this global pursuit of equality. International Women's Day, while being a day to commemorate this progress and celebrate women for their achievements and attributes, is also a reminder that things weren't always this way, and we must continue our efforts to empower women by creating equal opportunities for young girls through education.

Looking on the bright side - there is already glowing proof that dreams do come true if we have people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with, to build these dreams together. 

As Emily Dickinson, one of America's greatest poets wrote in one of her best-loved poems - 'Hope is the thing with feathers'. Here's to hope and dreams, and playing our part, however small, to bring these dreams to life!