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Carrie Tan: How To Empower Underprivileged Women

Carrie Tan has made it her focus through her charity Daughters of Tomorrow.

Carrie Tan (in checked dress) with her team and participants of DOT's Financial Literacy Programme

They walk among us, but you rarely notice them because they try their best to blend into society to maintain their dignity. One or two might even be your relatives.

This is a group of underprivileged women who live in Singapore, and have fallen through the cracks. As we celebrate women this month, we want to shine a spotlight on them and the help they need.

Their plight is often times a result of not having had an education, and being told since young that they do not have what it takes to stand up and fend for themselves.

“These women don’t put their poverty on their sleeves, but dig a little deeper and you will see their true story,” says Carrie Tan, Founder of non-profit Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT), which sets out to help this marginalised group.

Specifically, the assistance is lent on the principle of what Tan describes as “teaching the women to fish”. This means she focuses on their livelihoods – putting them through courses and mentorship programmes that equip them with the skills to look for a job, and sustain their employment.

One of the core programmes is the Confidence Curriculum, a series of workshops consisting of personal discovery, soft skills and communications, coaching and professional development modules.

“You can’t imagine there are people living in poverty in Singapore, right?” asks Tan, a Singaporean herself. “But there are.”

DOT focuses on helping those from zero to low income families, who typically have monthly per capita incomes of between $100 and $250. “I see it as a social investment to help these families in Singapore,” she says.

Some 40 per cent of the beneficiaries are single mothers with low education (secondary school and below). They are often time-strapped from looking after their children.

Yet when they reach a stage in life when they can look for a job, they doubt their abilities and lose their confidence. This is where DOT comes in to help.

The idea of the charity was birthed as far back in 2007, when Tan went to Andhra Pradesh in India to do volunteer work.

“I was traumatised by the number of female infanticides I saw there. Mothers shouldn’t be so desperate to have to resort to this. They need to learn to rely on themselves.”

She went on to start a social enterprise in India in 2011, focused on the cottage industry, where it taught women skills and provided them employment, “My message was that we need to empower women with jobs and income.”

A year later, she registered DOT as a social enterprise in Singapore, and through a conversation with a social worker here, learnt about the families who lived in poverty. That’s when she decided to shift her focus back home.

DOT became a registered charity in 2014 and began its evolution to the iteration it is today. To date, it has enabled 150 women, of whom 40 have found jobs.

“When they tell me ‘I love my job’, that to me is the most gratifying part of what I do,” shares Tan.

But there is much more that needs to be done. Tan says at her current capacity, she can only be highly engaged with 80 women at a time, even though they have 550 in their database – and that number is growing – who need support.

On the programme front, she will like to expand and scale up DOT’s core offerings and start more business incubation projects for the women. Tan also has hopes of sharing the success of DOT’s methodology with the regional community.

At the end of the day, her goal is to put 1,000 women back on the journey of (re)entering the workforce.

But all this needs money, and Tan is actively fund-raising. If women’s empowerment is an issue close to your heart, do reach out to DOT via

In doing so, know that you will be making a huge difference to the life of someone who needs all the help and encouragement she can get.

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