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Friday, June 21, 2024

HRep’s Women of the North and NCR

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In a modern society where women are making their voices heard, it’s vital to have representation in the government for their concerns and battles toward equality to become amplified nationally. It’s a significant step toward fostering inclusivity.

Fortunately for Filipinas, the 19th Congress of the Philippines isn’t short of giving women’s voices a chance to express themselves as strong, capable women to lead them toward change and innovation.

Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy (Caloocan City, Second District)

“Despite the key role of women in the development of our society, gender-based challenges still persist. As a woman legislator, I strive to create and advocate for measures that empower and transform women economically and socially so that we can become powerful agents of socioeconomic advancement and nation-building.”

Beauty and brains are what Congresswoman Cajayon-Uy has to offer. Before joining politics, she was crowned Miss Caloocan in 2000. Eventually, she entered politics as a city councilor of Caloocan from the Second District, serving one term from 2004 to 2007. She also became the district representative for the 14 and 15th Congress, where she focused on the welfare of women and children.

Her membership includes the Special Committee on the Welfare of Children and Special Persons, Youth and Sports Development, Special Committee on Millennium Development Goals, Committee on Women and Gender Equality, Committee on Higher Education, and the Special Committee on Globalization and World Trade Organization.

In the 19th Congress, Cajayon-Uy continues her bid to protect and empower women and children through bills that advocate their interests in a modern world.

Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel (Malabon City, Lone District)

“We, women legislators all over the world, are further strengthening our voices, not only using our legislative platform but also our being a mother, a wife, a sister, to empower women. As a member of the 19th Congress, I am proud and excited to be working with my fellow lady legislators who focus light on women’s causes and who pave the path for more women leaders in the communities and government. I am particularly honored to represent the women of Malabon. My constituents are with me wherever I participate in worthy causes such as this – my voice is their voice.”

Lacson-Noel, who also goes by the name Jaye, is a staunch advocate of poverty and hunger mitigation, quality education, industrial innovations, health, gender equality, and women empowerment. Alongside her infrastructure building and rehabilitation programs, she launched “Subok at Tapat” Social Services to address the lack of access to education, poverty in highly depressed areas, absence of employment opportunities, and crime and violence.

She is most passionate about her work to empower, enable and capacitate women, mothers, wives, and girls in her district and areas nearby. In 2005, she founded Kayang-Kaya ni Misis (KKM), an organization seeking to empower women and provide them with a safe space to adjust, improve, grow, and inspire others to do the same towards the ultimate goal of contributing towards community development and nation-building. From a coffee group with only 25 members, KKM grew to more than 11,300 members from Malabon, Navotas, and Warays from the same and nearby cities. She took inspiration from stories of hardships and triumphs of KKM members and their families to continue her legislative work.

In 2019, Lacson-Noel pledged to illegalize the practice of child marriage in the country and impose penalties on offenders. It was finally signed into law by former President Duterte in 2021. The congresswoman is a Deputy Majority Floor Leader for the 19th Congress. There is no stopping this veteran lady legislator from consistently pursuing timely and relevant bills towards the country’s swift maneuver from the negative backlash of the pandemic.

Stella Luz Quimbo (Marikina City, Second District)

“To be a woman in arenas dominated by men such as the academe and now the Congress, it is not an easy job, but like all the women in the world, I continue to rise and thrive above every challenge. I have forged a path for women in the legislative by becoming the first-ever Congresswoman of District 2, Marikina. By dutifully doing my job and standing up through difficult times as a public servant, I hope to inspire more women, especially the younger ones to take the torch and become this nation’s next set of brilliant leaders.”

There’s more to Quimbo than being a politician—she’s also the 19th Congress’s resident economist. She has several significant research studies in the Philippines’ health economics. The lady legislator also has an extensive research portfolio in industrial organization, microeconomics, education, poverty, and public policy and regulation.

Quimbo doesn’t lower her voice in challenging times, especially in the Philippine economy. She often uses her educational background to advise her fellow solons and government officials, even though it sometimes goes against the majority’s vote or perspective.

Her knowledge and bravery help Filipinos access quality healthcare, which she pushes through the legislative bills she principally authored. Quimbo also champions education and fights poverty to encourage the younger generations to pursue a brighter future.

Camille Villar (Las Piñas City, Lone District)

“I hope and am working that the society views women as an essential force in our country where diversity and inclusion are relevant. We must put policies to advance women’s welfare, protect their rights, and value their work to encourage them to help build a better society that we deserve.”

As the daughter of two known Filipino politicians, Manny and Cynthia Villar, the lady solon didn’t let society’s expectations limit her from what he could do. Besides establishing herself as a successful entrepreneur, Villar answered the call for public service in 2019. Villar dedicated her platform as a congresswoman to improving education, especially for the youth and women, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting small and medium enterprises as efficient tools against poverty.

Since the pandemic, Villar also shifted her attention to providing her constituents in Las Piñas with accessible quality healthcare. Under her leadership, the city saw the construction of several infrastructures dedicated to supplying the public with much-needed vaccines through creative encouragement.

Villar is also a staunch supporter of modernization and women succeeding in their careers.

Ma. Rachel Arenas (Pangasinan, Third District)

“As a legislator, I can use my voice and my vote in Congress to consciously advocate for legislation that supports and empowers women by engaging women and women’s advocates; partner with organizations that work to advance women’s rights and opportunities, and use their position as a platform to bring attention to these issues, enable the representation of diverse perspectives and experiences of women and strive to create policies that benefit all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other factors.”

The Pangasinan representative takes her duty as a legislator seriously. The 19th Congress isn’t her first encounter with carrying significant responsibilities in the government. Before 2022, she assumed the position in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013.

During her tenure, Arenas increased the agricultural capacity of 6,000 hectares of farmland by installing irrigation systems. She also oversaw the rehabilitation of river banks, the construction of proper drainage systems, and the clearing of waterways to alleviate her district’s long-time flooding problem, thus providing her constituents the safety and security they desire.

In the House of Representatives, Arenas sponsored and authored national bills that foster social justice, empowerment of marginalized communities, and improving essential services like health, education, and livelihood.

Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur, Second District)

“As lawmakers, we advance women’s causes by crafting legislative measures that are gender-responsive and address issues facing the modern-day Filipina (such as the Magna Carta of Women, Expanded Maternity Leave, and Safe Spaces Act), and by conducting investigations in aid of legislation, to further protect and promote such causes.”

Another female legislator who made her constituents’ voices heard in Congress is Singson-Meehan. As the district representative, her office’s motto is Tulong, Puso, Serbisyo (Aid, Heart, Service). However, she also has a soft spot for the younger generations and women.

She continues to empower women by establishing a districtwide organization, Puso Ti Kababaihan, that provides livelihood programs, training, opportunities, outreach services, and socialization for and by the women. As for the youth, she founded Puso Ti Agtutubo, a school-based youth organization to help form and mold young minds into servant-leaders, community entrepreneurs, and catalysts for change.

Banking on the idea that the younger generations are the country’s hope, Singson-Meehan also offers scholarship programs to aid the youth, especially those from indigenous communities, to fulfill their dreams.

Luisa Lloren Cuaresma (Nueva Vizcaya, Lone District)

Despite being a public servant through the House of Representatives for several years, Cuaresma has to end her duty to the Filipinos. She has been the district representative for Nueva Vizcaya since 2016 and has demonstrated her dedication to her constituents through several projects meant to improve the lives of the public.

Her undertakings as Congresswoman include providing developments to the district’s agriculture, which helps empowers local farmers. Cuaresma also focuses on the aspects and industries that keep her community afloat, including health, education, local government, and more.

She embodies a woman who doesn’t limit herself to what she can offer to others. Before becoming a member of the House of Representatives, Cuaresma holds the distinction of being Nueva Vizcaya’s fourth female governor.

Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso (Cagayan, Second District)

If there’s one word to describe Congresswoman Vargas-Alfonso, it would be active. Despite the strenuous schedule in the House of Representatives, she still makes time to visit her district and offer aid and services for security and welfare. She has been serving her community since 2022 but gained her constituents’ trust from her previous tenure in 2011 to 2019.

One of the many agendas Vargas-Alfonso offers is an educational assistance program that aims to encourage and empower Filipino youth to achieve their academic dreams and pursue their life goals since having an educational background is a relevant requirement in the country.

As a mother, the lady legislator is a model to her daughter, Samantha Louise Vargas Alfonso, a public servant, to lead with strength and grace.


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