Singapore, Born 1942
“I like to think of myself as a healer,” says Dr Kanwaljit Soin, one of Singapore’s most respected orthopaedic and hand surgeons and a champion of disadvantaged women.
An outspoken public figure, Soin began expressing her views on women’s rights and social issues in 1985 as a founding member of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE). Six years later she was elected the organization’s president and also became the nation’s first woman to serve as a Nominated Member of Parliament, appointed by Singapore’s president for two two-year terms. During this period, she was instrumental in changing the legislation pertaining to family violence.
Today, in addition to her medical practice and duties as president of the local International Women’s Forum, Dr Soin is mainly involved with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and with HelpAge International, an organization supporting disadvantaged older people in developing countries. As founding chairperson of UNIFEM’s Singapore chapter, she is the driving force behind programmes to alleviate poverty and improve education and health care throughout South-East Asia. One such project is the region’s first ethical equities fund, which invests only in companies with socially responsible policies towards women. “Sociologically, it has been found that whenever you help one woman, you help four children,” says Soin.
Her achievements as a surgeon and active participant in welfare, advocacy, artistic and professional organizations helped gain her the title of Singapore’s “Woman of the Year” in 1992. In her spare time, this dedicated doctor mentors young Singaporean women.
Published in 2004