Having been inspired by a slew of strong Asian women she had met over the course of her work, local personality-turned-author Eunice Olsen was determined to spread the message of female empowerment to the younger generation.
And so her self-published children’s book, I’m A Girl. See What I Can Be!, was born after 11/2 years of hard work.
Available now at Kinokuniya Singapore outlets and on her website for $18.60, it is a collection of 10 poems that celebrates the lives of extraordinary women from Asia whom Olsen had interviewed for her online video series WomenTalk.
They include Singaporeans like Paralympian Theresa Goh; founder of social enterprise ExtraOrdinary Horizons Lily Goh; and founder of the Save Elephant Foundation Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, from Thailand.
It also features illustrations by differently-abled children and teenagers.
Olsen wished she had such role models growing up, because they are real-life embodiments of courage and strength.
The 41-year-old told The New Paper at the media launch of the book last Thursday: “The main point of the book is not just what these women do, but the values they represent.
“I hope children can learn from that.”
When asked if she had personally experienced gender inequality, Olsen said she was recently looked down on when she took on a directing gig for a local project.
Her abilities were underestimated and trivialised by one male crew member.
She said: “Gender equality has not fully permeated every societal aspect, despite the rise in feminist movements.”
That is why she hopes her book will inspire young girls to have courage when facing adversity and be who they want to be and encourage parents to empower their children, as well as raise awareness in young boys to have respect for girls and women.
The book was entirely crowdfunded online, and managed to raise 125 per cent of the amount needed for the first print run.
Olsen said: “I was not just surprised and happy, but immensely grateful. I felt encouraged that there was a community that wanted the book.”
The WomenTalk series – and the book in extension – was a culmination of her wealth of life experiences, ranging from being the winner of Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2000 to a former Nominated Member of Parliament, humanitarian, volunteer, actress and host.
For her, the pageant kick-started it all and motivated her to find purpose and usefulness in her title, and to be courageous enough to try new things.
She said: “But everyone can effect change. You don’t have to be a beauty queen to empower yourself and the people around you.”
When asked if she has any advice for this year’s MUS finalists, with the winner being crowned on Friday, she said: “Block out the noise, do your best and have fun. And use your voice for someone else who is not heard.”
Source: Esther Loi (2018, August 27). Eunice Olsen hopes to empower young girls with new children’s book. The New Paper. Retrieved from https://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/others/eunice-olsen-hopes-empower-young-girls-new-childrens-book