People who know junior Zoe Adamopoulos will tell you that she is a passionate feminist who advocates for gender equality and pays for her own bills on dates. At only 17, she has focused that passion into her role as president of UN Women, a well-known organization in Singapore that informs others about women’s rights.
The Eye: What made you want to join UN Women?
Zoe: I’ve been a volunteer at UN Women since I was around 10 years old, and a couple of years later, I started interning there over the summer. I guess the biggest thing is that I realized there were so many issues going on with gender inequality, so I think being in UN Women has really broadened my horizons in terms of understanding world issues around gender inequality.
The Eye: How did you become president?
Zoe: Around a year and a half ago, I started up the Youth Team wing for UN Women Singapore. Basically, because of that, I became president and I’ve been running it ever since.
The Eye: What are your goals with UN Women?
Zoe: Their main purpose is to spread more awareness about gender equality and women empowerment. So the biggest goal is to reach out to teenagers for them to really understand and contextualize the issues in our world today.
The Eye: How many other SAS students are a part of UN Women?
Zoe: I would say we probably have more than 10, but I think the ones who are really committed are just five or six students here.
The Eye: What are the projects you are currently working on?
Zoe: We have one really big project called Project Aspire. It’s basically a social entrepreneurship challenge for teens from 15-18 years old. We run these workshops teaching them about social enterprises, how to make business plans, etc, and ultimately, we pick five finalists who can implement a project that can help women in Singapore. We had our first Project Aspire last year, and we are still continuing to do it this year.
The Eye: What has UN Women Singapore accomplished?
Zoe: On a larger scale with me and UN Women, I’ve done a lot of event planning, fundraising, and I’ve helped out in specific events that help raise awareness towards trafficking, ending violence towards women, and more. For our Youth Team and Project Aspire, we’ve mainly been focusing on that and trying to educate the youth in Singapore, as well as try to think of new innovative ideas to help Singapore.
The Eye: What is feminism to you?
Zoe: I think the definition for feminism can easily be misconstrued. I think now in the modern day, feminism really just defines a belief that both genders have equal chances for everything. It’s not like “women are better than men”– it’s more like we all have the same amount of opportunities in life.
The Eye: Why do you believe feminism is important?
Zoe: I think everyone should view everyone as equal. It’s the same premise as those who are sexist or racist. You shouldn’t see any one gender or any one race as better than another.
The Eye: What prompted you to start addressing yourself as a feminist?
Zoe: I think when you’re younger, you may experience gender bias or stereotypes, but you don’t really realize it. So when I started working with UN Women, I realized what really big issues there are, not just in our society here in Singapore, but also in developing countries where sex trafficking or violence against women is a problem.
The Eye: Is there a downside to being a feminist?
Zoe: I think mainly because in the past generation, the term “feminist” has had weak definitions. The biggest backlash now is when I call myself a feminist, people consider me to be “man hating” or something extreme like that. But the reality is that I’m just an advocate for gender equality.
The Eye: Is there anyone that inspires you as a feminist?
Zoe: Through all my work at UN Women, I’ve been looking up to a lot of different role models. I guess one that most people can recognize nowadays is Emma Watson, because she does a lot for UN Women like the “He for She” campaign. I also look up to some feminist artists like Judy Chicago or Barbara Kruger, because I think their work is groundbreaking. There has many icons in the past century that are definitely my inspirations as a feminist.