Over a century ago, in the midst of World War I, there were 23 visionary women with a burning desire to make the world a better place. With this shared vision, they made a pledge to contribute to society in whatever way they could. Thus, the Chinese Women’s Association (CWA) was formed. Since its founding in 1915, the dedicated members have worked tirelessly to honour their commitment to the community —  from bolstering British war efforts, to providing crucial aid to victims of conflict and natural disasters, to caring for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Today, the CWA is once again stepping forward to make a difference in the lives of others. This time, the Association is setting up a bursary for female students in financial need at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The transformative gift will empower young women to achieve their academic goals and lifelong dreams.

“The world has changed since the founding of CWA 108 years ago. Singapore has developed rapidly and is seen as an exemplary city-state and a successful economic model much admired by the world. It is also the fictional home of characters in the Crazy Rich Asians. However, we know that there are still people who need help to break out from the low-income cycle. One way is through education and that is the purpose of the CWA-NUS Bursary,” shared Mrs Vivienne Tan, Vice-President of CWA.

The Bursary’s establishment is a fitting tribute to the CWA’s rich history of philanthropic work that has spanned decades. Moreover, it also serves as a lasting reminder of the power of generosity and compassion.

“For over a hundred years, CWA had raised millions of dollars for various charities but it did not have a charitable gift named after it. The members felt it was time the Association be recognised for a charitable gift named in perpetuity that we could call our own,” said Mrs Tan, who is also an NUS alumna and donor.

The CWA-NUS Bursary was born during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a testament to CWA’s steely determination to be a force of good amid tough times. During their first Annual General Meeting (AGM) held virtually over Zoom, the members voted unanimously to focus their fundraising efforts on the CWA-NUS Bursary.

The leaders of CWA became experts at navigating pandemic restrictions and jumped at the first opportunity to hold a small-scale fundraiser. Drawn to the cause of empowering through education, CWA members went above and beyond to organise events in their homes and community, contributing to a strong start of the campaign.

As the pandemic restrictions began to ease, the CWA-NUS Bursary fundraisers grew in scale, culminating in the highly successful CWA-NUS Bursary Gala Dinner in November 2022. Attended by CWA members, friends and supporters, the event raised over S$200,000.  With generous donations from the Lee Foundation and well-wishers, the CWA has achieved their initial target of raising S$300,000 for the Bursary.

However, the CWA members are not slowing down just yet. Dedicated to their fundraising efforts, they are rallying like-minded individuals and organisations to make a lasting difference in the lives of future generations.

“One hundred years from now, we hope CWA members at the AGM will celebrate the lives of the hundreds of women who have benefitted from the CWA-NUS Bursary,” Mrs Tan concluded.

Committee Members of Chinese Women Association presented a cheque to NUS and received by Professor Leong Ching, Vice-Provost (Student Life)

From Left to Right: Mrs Christine Lim, Ms Denise Wong, Ms Evelyn Sam, Ms Chew Seong Ling, Mrs Vivienne Tan, Mrs Joan Yim, Professor Leong Ching, Mrs Annie Chang, Mrs Magdalene Low, Mrs Anne Goh and Ms Cecilia Faulkner Leong