Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister of Singapore (glusea.com)

Women and Adversity:
21st Century Women

Halimah Yacob
President of Singapore

Restricting qualifications so only ONE person can qualify? That’s what happened in the Republic of Singapore’s 2017 “election.”

Halimah Yacob (pronounced Ha li⸍ mah Ya⸍cob) became the president of Singapore in September 2017, the first woman to attain that post. She has, however, avoided making a comment about how she attained the office. It happens that the qualifications for president were restricted to the extent that she was the only person to qualify. She told the press that she will do her best, “…and that doesn’t change whether there is an election or no election.”

The qualifications limited the candidate to only a Malay, an ethnic minority in Singapore, and someone who has served in government. Anyone from the public sector had other specific qualifications, but the men who chose to run were disqualified.

Thus far there isn’t controversy about Yacob’s performance. As I listen to her speeches and presentations on YouTube, I find that they indicate she is working to improve the lives of the underserved in Singapore.

Singapore merged with Malaysia and was under British control until 1963. In 1965 it broke off from Malaysia and formed the Republic of Singapore, which is between Malaysia and Indonesia. Its capital city is Singapore. About six million people live in this island nation, which is the wealthiest country per capita in Southeast Asia.

Yacob Bio:

  • Born August 23, 1954 in Singapore, the youngest of five children
  • Father was Indian; her mother Malay
  • Father died when she was eight
  • Helped her mother sell items at a food stall to support the family
  • Is Muslim
  • Attended the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School and Tanjong Katong Girls’ School, a rarity for a Malay
  • Earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from University of Singapore in 1978 and called to the Bar in 1981
  • Earned a Master of Laws degree from National University of Singapore in 2001
  • Married Mohammed Abdullah Alhabshee, a businessman, in 1980
  • The couple have five children


  • Worked at National Trades Union Congress in various capacities
  • A Member of Parliament from 2001-2017
  • Resigned MP to run for president

In the past, the president’s position was primarily ceremonial, but Singapore’s Constitution was amended so the president can veto government budgets and key public appointments. This gives Jacob a lot of power. She is another woman leader who may ascent to Prime Minister.

Read more about Yacob:



Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and goodreads.com to learn more.

  1. Judith Jadron says:

    Halimah Yacob deserves recognition for her distinguished work as an MP & Speaker of Parliament.
    Regarding her ascent to the presidency, the qualifications are fuzzy, and it is unclear what she gained, other than status, titular recognition by other heads of state & salary.
    The position is nominal and symbolic.

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