IN 2022, the World Economic Forum released gender gap rankings, which disclosed the number of women participating in the labor force. The Philippines ranked 19th out of 146 countries, indicating progress in bridging the gender disparity in society.
But the country still has a long way to go before achieving equity.
For decades, women, an often marginalized and underestimated community, fought to have their voices heard and land a well-deserved position in every industry. Every March 8, which is International Women’s Month, women call for gender equality, allowing them to access rights, responsibilities, and opportunities regardless of gender. Yet this 2023, the annual and global celebration focuses on championing gender equity.
Gender equity refers to equal treatment in acquiring and exercising rights, benefits, obligations, and opportunities. Despite these struggles, millions of women across the globe continue to set an example of how they’re more than their genders.
Among them is Bianca Gonzalez, a Filipina television host who captured the audience’s hearts with charm, wit, and grace. Bianca is a staunch advocate of progressive values—one of them being women’s empowerment—which she highlights on her social media platforms. She is also one of the five female co-founders of She Talks Asia, a women empowerment platform that holds workshops and creates online narratives around sharing women’s stories and sparking necessary conversations.
As one of the five female co-founders of She Talks Asia, which began in 2017, Bianca played a vital role in building a community of over 34,000 tribe members and raised over P2.5 million to provide scholarships for girls.
She Talks Asia is also responsible for raising and addressing relevant issues. Some include biases against women, negotiating your worth at work, the multi-hyphenate path, mental health, and wellness, violence against women and children, women making the first move, ageism, body positivity, and healing.
Bianca admits that the Philippines has yet to achieve gender equality within its communities but remains optimistic that it’s possible if everyone works together.
“We’ve had two female Presidents, two female Vice Presidents, and our current VP is a woman; there are powerful women holding C Suite and leadership positions in different sectors, but there is a long way to go in truly achieving equality,” she said.
She adds that there’s much discrimination in hiring wives and mothers in the workforce, and “unpaid care work lies largely in the hands of women, and women still face harassment and microaggressions, whether in the workplace, in public spaces, and even at home.”
“It will really take all stakeholders, public and private, committing to creating and implementing policies that can protect and support women, and it will take work in our individual homes in raising the next generation of women and men to finally, achieve equality,” Bianca said.
Filipino actress Chesca Kramer shares similar sentiments on the relevance of raising the next generation of men and women to achieve equality. As a mother of three, she sets an example of how her children can become model citizens, who treat each other respectfully and without bias.
“The hand that rocks the cradle is a powerful force to raise good citizens that will be future pillars of our community and essential to building a good nation. Knowing that gives me the power to raise my children to be good citizens. That is what empowers me as a woman,” she said.
Chesca embraces her womanhood as much as possible, proven by her projects and how she guides her family. She’s a beacon in their household on how to be confident, strong, and elegant.
“The essence of being a woman to me is one who thinks wisely, speaks faithfully, and behaves gracefully. She celebrates her womanhood and is confident of her own strength as a woman. Her light shines in every corner of her home. Her wisdom abounds and her nurturing gift blesses her family,” she said.
Another woman of action in her own way is Shawntel Nieto, the president of Sustainable PH, a registered NGO which catalyzes the sustainability movement in the country.
Shawntel is passionate about public service and other movements. Her goal is to provide every Filipino the decent living conditions and opportunities they all deserve to have as a people.
“Through my work in our One Cainta Food Program, I have provided over 700,000 people with food, education support, vocational training, and livelihood support. Through my work within SustainablePH and SustainaRumble, I have strived to advance the practice of sustainability in the Philippines and in so doing create more just, equitable, and sustainable institutions, policies, and systems in the country,” she said.
Her work also helps people improve people’s living conditions today while also working to ensure that on a systems level, progress is made to continuously raise the overall quality and standard of people’s living conditions and opportunities, by default.
“Under our One Cainta Food Program, we are currently looking at providing women with digital livelihood opportunities. This will allow them to work and add on to their household’s average income while still having the time and geographical flexibility needed to fulfill their roles as homemakers and mothers,” she added.
Bianca, Chesca, and Shawntel are only three of the millions of women, who live their lives with confidence and truth as they set the bar on how womanhood is something to celebrate, not underestimate.
People across the globe, specifically women and allies, are having meaningful conversations on why equal opportunities aren’t enough and even if they are, the circumstances aren’t always fair to women. This year, they stand in solidarity with women as they take the necessary steps to embrace equity.
International Women’s Day is a time full of activities across the globe, physical and virtual, to help spread the message. All are welcome to participate and share in the movement of fighting for equality and equity without gender discrimination and other prejudice.
Although IWD is an annual celebration held every March 8, the fight for women’s rights and empowerment is an every day fight that requires the efforts of every stakeholder in society to create a progressive world that offers people equal and fair treatment in the opportunities they receive.