If five years ago someone had asked me whether I thought I’d be living in Washington, D.C. today, working at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security as the Hillary Rodham Clinton-McLarty research fellow on women’s economic empowerment, the answer would have been a resounding no. Not in a million years could I have imagined it. However, life is full of interesting twists and turns and it took quite a few of those and a very long move from being a young disenfranchised corporate lawyer in Singapore. Today, I find myself knee-deep in researching women’s economic opportunities in fragile and conflict-affected countries, star-struck in meeting Former Secretary Clinton, humbled in working with inspiring women (including my own bosses), and thrilled to learn from their experiences. In the past six months since I accepted this role, I’ve had the opportunity to work on launching the Institute’s Women, Peace and Security Index at the United Nations, as well as organizing the 2018 Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security.
This is my second year being a McLarty Scholar. I spent my first year working with Vital Voices Global Partnership on the Women’s Economic and Entrepreneurship team, examining how women entrepreneurs pay it forward in their communities. As I reflect on my experience, I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities the scholarship has offered, and the tight-knit community of passionate fellow scholars who are equally motivated in making a difference in this world. In many ways, being a McLarty Scholar goes beyond the dynamic impactful organizations we get to work with. It’s an ongoing relationship, and an investment of trust that you, as a capable well-meaning individual can contribute to changing this world, be it big or small, in causes you are passionate about. Obviously, that trust doesn’t fall lightly on anyone’s shoulders, but it acts as a healthy motivator in pushing one to excel in a holistic manner and be a kinder, better person. Through the scholarship, I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin, and more attuned and sensitive to injustices committed against women and girls around the world. Being a McLarty Scholar has emboldened me to believe that what I do matters. I am eager to return the favor by encouraging other women and girls to remain confident that they deserve to be heard and what they do matters.