Ahon, Pinay! Uplifting women and recognizing their roles in society

Therese Reyes
Ahon, Pinay! Uplifting women and recognizing their roles in society
The Philippine Commission on Women, Ariel, and other organizations celebrated Women’s Month

MANILA, Philippines — March 8, 1908: about 15,000 women in New York City marched on the streets to demand better working hours, higher pay, and the right to vote. The participants included women from different backgrounds and had different stories, yet fought for the same cause.

This event led to the celebration of the very first Women’s Day in 1909 and marked a milestone for women around the world. Up to this day, men and women around the world continue to come together every March to celebrate women for both their struggles and triumphs. 

Last March 16, close to 5,000 women and men gathered at Burnham Green in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Metro Manila to celebrate International Women’s Day. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) called the event Sama-Samang Pagsulong sa mga Agenda ni Juana, aiming to champion the rights and needs of Filipinas. 

PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa believes that the event could be used as a vehicle for participants to contribute in crafting policies and programs for gender equality and women empowerment. She said that it’s time to acknowledge every juana’s contribution and include Filipinas in the national agenda.

A MOMENT TO REMEMBER. People take a selfie while celebrating the event's initiatives. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler   

Women for women 

Today, more women have become leaders, innovators, and influencers in various industries. The Philippines, in particular, was ranked 7th overall in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report, having closed 79 percent of the gap – the highest in the region. 

However, there is much left to be done. Apart from acknowledgment for their accomplishments, there is still a need for policies to help improve women’s political empowerment, education, and wages. For example, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2015 Human Development Report reveals that the Philippines’ Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is $5,382 for women compared to $10,439 for men. The conversation has shifted but the fight remains the same.

BREAKING BOUNDARIES. Professor Winnie Collas-Monsod briefs the crowd about the Filipina's various roles in today's society. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

A woman’s contribution to society 

Speaking during the event, Professor Solita “Winnie” Collas-Monsod stressed that fighting for women empowerment isn’t just for the benefit of women but for the country as a whole.

“Half of the country is women, maybe more than half, and if they are not empowered, we lose our competitiveness in the world,” the veteran women’s rights advocate said.

Monsod also called for better appreciation of women’s contribution to society. She pointed out how recent studies show that the Filipina’s contribution to the country’s GNP is at 35 to 39 percent. It’s a statistic that does not take into account other women’s economic roles like farming and family and household management. These, she believes, are just as important and would virtually equalize the contributions of men and women.

To close, she reminds women that for change to happen, it has to start with how they perceive themselves. She said: “We ourselves are guilty of giving preference to our men because we think they are better than us or they are working harder than us. Removing the cloak of invisibility for women’s actives [like] care in the home, elsewhere, is going to show the Philippines that women, when they ask for something – they deserve it. And when they demand it, they should be given it.”

The women’s vote 

With the national elections looming around the corner, participants were also encouraged to be vocal about the issues they want the next head of state to address. During the event, a simulation of national polls was also held and participants were asked to vote for issues instead of candidates. This doubles as a survey which the PCW and aspiring leaders can use to learn about women’s concerns, which can influence policy-making and program development. 

MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT. People take part in the event's elections poll

Those who were not present during the event also took the poll through the PCW website.

Laying down the groundwork 

The private sector is also expected to play a big role in this movement.

During a press conference held after the event, Procter & Gamble Philippines (P&G) announced its partnership with the PCW and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) through the Ariel “Ahon Pinay” campaign. 

Atty. Mimi Lopez Malvar, Country Government Relations Manager for P&G, said: “Celebrating progressive women is at the heart of what Ariel stands for and I feel very privileged to represent Ariel as we commit to empower more women in the country to further progress in life and have a positive impact in the country.” 

The brand believes that the modern-day Filipina is capable of not just learning but thriving in non-traditional vocations. To spread the message further, Ariel’s partnership with the TESDA Women’s Center consists of a grant that will help women in training courses. 

Atty. Teodoro Pascua, Deputy Director General of Field Operations for TESDA, said: “P&G has partnered with us to provide the logistics that would be needed for women to be able to get skills and competencies that can get them to become economically productive.” When questioned about the qualifications women can pursue, Pascua said that the Women’s Center’s goal is to concentrate on pushing non-traditional skills.

Pascua said: “When I say non-traditional, these are skills or competencies that used to be male- dominated. So welding is one, automobile technology is another. But we’re trying to craft another one, this would be perhaps in the electronics or electrical installation and maintenance field.” 

Apart from encouraging women to thrive in the workforce, Ariel is also committed to recognizing the work of those who have already made their mark. On a separate event in partnership with Puregold, a number of Ariel Ahon Pinay nominees from selected Puregold stores nationwide will share their stories as successful women entrepreneurs. Of those nominated, 5 will be awarded for their outstanding work and perseverance. — Rappler.com

Ariel supports the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in its efforts to uplift, empower, and inspire women by raising gender equality awareness. As a laundry brand, Ariel is the progressive woman’s perfect partner that ensures tough stains and piles of laundry don’t hold her back from pursuing other passions and dreams. For more information, watch this video

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