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Empowered Pinay: The Rise of Asia’s New Girl Boss

The Philippines is on the rise, and Filipino women are helping mount the ladder.

Our country is doing well in terms of gender equality, especially in producing women leaders. This is according to a recent finding by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), recorded January 2018. But how did we get here?

It is all rooted in the family – the ilaw ng tahanan (light of the home) – what we call Filipina mothers. From them, who continue to pursue countless roles at home and beyond, the tens of millions of our country’s women learn how to become strong.

From being mothers at home, of different companies in various industries, and ultimately of the nation, Filipinas continue to take every opportunity to claim their rightful achievements.

Challenges of a Filipina girl boss

With success comes adversity, and every Filipina has encountered her share of challenges.

From barriers in education, in corporate environments, to experiencing different types of harassment, women will tell you of countless bumps in the road. Even history writes of their plight, from the comfort women during the Japanese occupation, to the female victims of the Martial Law era, to name a few.

While the women of today still face challenges, we should celebrate how we have transcended many more.

Taking inspiration from leading women

Women in the Philippines have come from being housewives to becoming nation builders. Rising from different walks of life, they’ve been making huge leaps in turning their dreams into reality, breaking the barriers of narrow-minded perspectives that continue to haunt the country.

Different women have stepped into the limelight, but let’s give special mention to the country’s renowned women leaders, the late former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino, and former President now Speaker of the House of Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

We also had the late Senator Miriam-Defensor Santiago, who was known as the Iron Lady of Asia, and other women who have excelled in fields beyond politics. Ms. Jessica Soho for instance, who continues to haul in awards in the arena of news and public affairs, here and abroad. These women and their stories are shining examples of how the lights of our homes are quelling the shadows of the past.

What we owe our women leaders

While inspiration can be drawn from different women in our lives (our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, teachers, etc.), without the full cooperation of those in power, true progress will not be possible. Thankfully for women in the Philippines, their cause is backed up by a number of laws.

We have the Magna Carta of Women (R.A. 9710), the Violence Against Women and Children Act (VAWC) (R.A. 9262), and the bill that has been recently passed in the senate, Safe Streets and Public Spaces (SBN. 1326) that aims to penalize this country’s misogynistic culture of catcalling and street harassment. Laws such as these, to name a few, show how our country is taking further steps to give Filipinas the equal opportunities and protection they deserve.

Are these laws and their current implementation enough? Far from it. But we as women have to know where to begin, the protection we are entitled to, who our allies are in power, and what it requires for us to push forward.

Under Mom's Umbrella
Under Mom’s Umbrella – by, Ninoy Lumboy

Opportunities for Pinays today

The Philippines has gradually become prime ground for the success of women in various fields. With the history, culture, and inspiration there, and the wheels of the law turning, there’s much to look forward to for Pinays.

When we look at both leading and emerging industries, and sectors that need a push such as Science and Technology, it is with honor that we look at women taking charge and receiving credit. More and more Filipinas are playing major roles in their respective industries, offering perspectives long missing due to opportunities not being available for them.

From our humble homes to the highest seat in government, women have proven to be powerful partners and leaders, ushering massive shifts in culture and industry. Troubled history and existing challenges be damned, it is much better to be a woman in the Philippines today. Who knows what the future holds for our country? What we do know is that we’ll be right there helping lead the charge.

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