A partnership of women for women

“When women come together,” philanthropist Melinda Gates said, “change happens.”

And it does, especially when the glue that binds them together is for the betterment of other women. Such is the latest partnership between the women executives of Smart Communications and the co-founders of Connected Women, a social impact tech startup that offers technology skills development and remote-work opportunities to women.

Backed by UN Women, the 75,000-member strong organization launched to provide a talent pool for businesses worldwide while creating an impact for Filipino women and their families. 

Meeting in a virtual room to launch the Smart-Connected Women partnership are (first row) Deborah N. Tan, Smart first vice president and head of PLDT-Smart enterprise risk management; Jane J. Basas, senior vice president and head of Smart consumer business wireless; Mary Rose L. Dela Paz, chief procurement officer at PLDT-Smart; (second row) Gina Romero, co-founder of Connected Women; Ruth Yu-Owen, co-founder of Connected Women; Miriam Z. Choa, first vice president of Smart prepaid marketing; and Cathy Yap-Yang, first vice president of PLDT-Smart Corporate Communications.
“It’s great to find innovative solutions together in this pandemic, where we reinvent for women, for the future,” Cathy Yang, PLDT-Smart first vice president and head of group corporate communications, said at a virtual gathering.

She recalled, “When I came in at Smart, women leaders were already in the midst of putting together something to foster gender inclusivity. I am honored and humbled to have been invited to take part.”

Smart will support Connected Women’s Elevate AIDA (Artificial Intelligence Data Annotation) program, particularly in initiatives like data labeling, remote work, professional communication, and computer skills, which are all scalable in the digital remote workspace. Participants will also benefit from career coaching, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and mentoring.  

Yang, along with Debbie N. Tan, Smart first vice president and head of PLDT-Smart enterprise risk management; Jane J. Basas, Smart senior vice president and head of wireless consumer business; Mary Rose de la Paz, chief procurement officer at PLDT-Smart; and Miriam Z. Choa, first vice president of Smart prepaid marketing, welcomed Connected Women co-founders Gina Romero and Ruth Yu-Owen, both entrepreneurs with a personal mission to empower women through technology.      

“It is Gina’s vision to have a Smart-Connected Women partnership, and she talks about it with passion,” shared Yu-Owen, adding, “I believe that if you help one woman, there will be a ripple effect across the community. We’re here because of the 75,000 women behind us who need a lot of help in many different ways.

As co-founder, Yu-Owen helps give women and mothers the opportunity to learn and work online from home alongside women executives and entrepreneurs.  

“With our aligned vision to connect more Filipinos to opportunities in the Future of Work, Connected Women is delighted to partner with Smart on this initiative—ensuring no woman is left behind,” enthused Romero.  

Tan, meanwhile, expressed pride in their latest partnership. “The initiatives we will be undertaking through this partnership resonate with all of us.”

“I don’t think there is a better combination of words than ‘Smart’ and ‘Connected Women’—hence the tagline that came to mind: A Connected Woman is a Smart woman and vice versa.” 

Basas likewise welcomes the opportunity to help women. “When Debbie brought this project to my attention, I immediately told her that I wanted to support it. Smart is in a unique position to connect, teach, and let Filipinas talk to other women around the world. I’m happy that we are here and part of this project.”

“In the Philippines, more than 50 percent of the population is female, so we have to help each other. For the country to progress, we have to equip women,” she added. 

For more information on the program or to hire beneficiaries trained with AI skills, visit or email [email protected] 

Topics: women , Melinda Gates , Smart Communications , Connected Women ,
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