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Friday, July 19, 2024

Women creators find strength in collaboration

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The main idea for women striving to overcome barriers, both online and in real life, is to support each other. This was the central theme of this year’s “Breaking Barriers Online and Beyond,” Google’s celebration of Women’s Month.

Hosted by comedian Issa Villaverde, the event highlighted the strength and courage of female YouTube creators. Speakers included journalist Jacque Manabat, dermatologist Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas, dentist Dr. Shideh Nikbin, fitness coach Anne Aniag, tech reviewer Isa Rodriguez, and entrepreneur Rizza Lana-Sebastian. They emphasized the importance of representing themselves authentically and sharing their expertise on platforms like YouTube.
“When I first started, I was like a headless chicken running around because I didn’t know what I was doing,” shared Rodriguez, who has a popular tech channel on YouTube called Isa does tech.

“But I got an email from a journalist in Malaysia saying she found me, and at that moment, I realized that by showing up every day, that in itself is a message: I’m here, I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna do it the way I want.”

Issa Villaverde asserts the importance of being self-assured in one’s craft

This was the same realization that Manabat—who pivoted to online journalism by starting a personal YouTube channel after a long career in TV—came to.

“When I saw YouTube, I saw that it encouraged authenticity and emotions. Media literacy and women empowerment are my advocacies, and I was inspired by those who champion it online,” she said. “If they could do it if they could inform and educate those watching on YouTube, then maybe journalists can break the stereotype barrier. So when you see my YouTube content, I show emotions, I am me, and I am more approachable and relatable because I believe you should be where the audience is.”

Nikbin agrees with how YouTube pushes genuine authenticity. She had faced a bigger challenge by not just being a woman, but also being part of the LGBTQ+ community in a public same-sex relationship, which she fearlessly features on her YouTube channel Dr. Glam.

Jackie Manabat sees the value of authenticity and relatability in educating people online

“YouTube was a great platform for me, especially the way I was raised—you’re a doctor, businesswoman, professional, you have to look like this. I was doing it, but there was a fear in me that a lot of people weren’t aware of it, and YouTube was a platform for me to overcome that fear by sharing it with others,” she said. “I realized that there were a lot of people on YouTube who were true to themselves, and that inspired me.”

It’s the presence of other people that can really be a big push for those figuring out how to get started. “What I learned in my journey as a YouTube creator is that you should never be afraid to ask people for help,” agreed Robredo-Vitas, who started her YouTube channel in 2019 to make the science of skincare and skin health as accessible to as many people as possible.

“I started with a lot of self-doubt. I had a lot of great ideas, but then I kept thinking, I couldn’t do this. But then I learned that you can’t do it all on your own.”

From left: Entrepreneur Rizza Lana-Sebastian and fitness coach Anna Aniag

This collaborative spirit combats the tendency to pit women against each other. Lana-Sebastian, who shares her experiences on her YouTube channel, stresses the importance of empowering people regardless of gender.

This mindset reflects internalized bias against women, which can manifest as outright misogyny online, creating barriers for women.

Manabat shares that she receives many comments from men about her appearance and relationships, affecting how stories are told and undermining credibility.

Aniag faces similar challenges, with people questioning her credibility and saying women shouldn’t have muscles. However, she emphasizes the importance of muscles for daily tasks.

From left: Journalist Jackie Manabat, tech reviewer Isa Rodriguez, and dermatologist Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas

Despite ongoing discrimination, the speakers agree that perseverance and confidence are essential. Villaverde, a queer stand-up comedian, advises women facing adversity to be self-assured.

“You have to develop a tough skin for that but also know that just by being great at your craft, it shows them that their discrimination isn’t true. You think you wouldn’t be respected in such a space, but you’re a breath of fresh air,” said Villaverde.

To learn more about Google’s support for women and other causes, follow the official Google Philippines YouTube channel and Facebook page.

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