‘When more women work, economies grow’

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WOMAN’S CIRCLE The Manila Times First Forum Series for Women Executives held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas, shows guest speaker Agnes Gervacio, NEC Philippines CEO (at left), with Danilo Ocampo, Manila Times vice president for sales and marketing; Bayani Santos, Sunday Times Magazine editor; Frank Reichenbach, Marco Polo general manager; Bianca Mercado, Manila Times chief opera

WOMAN’S CIRCLE The Manila Times First Forum Series for Women Executives held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas, shows guest speaker Agnes Gervacio, NEC Philippines CEO (at left), with Danilo Ocampo, Manila Times vice president for sales and marketing; Bayani Santos, Sunday Times Magazine editor; Frank Reichenbach, Marco Polo general manager; Bianca Mercado, Manila Times chief opera

Putting women in the Cabinet of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte is a step in the right direction toward women empowerment because “when more women work, economies grow,” the president of NEC Philippines said.

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Agnes Gervacio made the statement during the ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ symposium, a forum series for women executives sponsored by The Manila Times at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas District on Friday.

In a post-speech interview, Gervacio told The Times that Duterte’s unorthodox leadership style may well be for the good of the country, because it definitely is “a good thing going for women to contribute to our socio-political development,” even as she urged the incoming Administration to tap more women for the bureaucracy.

She cited the “multiplier effect” of women’s contributions to the nation’s growth and “I hope he [Duterte] succeeds in his governance with more women in the service.”

Gervacio quoted a report by the United Nations World Economic Forum as saying the Philippines ranked 7th in the overall Global Gender Equality rankings in 2015, which was two notches higher than the 9th place it occupied in 2014.

“We have been consistently among the top 10 globally as regard to women empowerment and the number one in the Asia-Pacific region,” she said, noting that there are more women in the Philippines now who are legislators, senior officials, professionals and even in ministerial positions.

The NEC president cited, among other names, former Justice secretary Leila de Lima as “the most macho of them all.”

The great equalizer and the key to breaking through the glass ceiling is education, she said,
Improving women’s education contributes to higher gender diversity in corporate boardrooms, senior management realm and other high-ranking positions, according to Gervacio.

She challenged more Filipina career women to join the ranks of CEOs and presidents in their respective companies.

When asked about competition among empowered women, she dismissed it as a no-brainer.

“I don’t see my fellow women as a competition but as someone I can hold hands with,” Gervacio said.

She spent two decades as an executive at Eastern Telecoms before she became country president for NEC Philippines, a unit of the Japan-based multinational provider of information technology products and services.

“She is the perfect portrait of the Filipina as a chief executive officer,” said another woman executive in the forum who was evidently inspired by Gervacio’s confidence and articulateness.

“She [Gervacio] is also the perfect model of a confident wife,” said Judith Lopez, an independent director with the Veterans Bank.

There were only a handful of men in the forum, among them the Marco Polo Hotel’s Swiss general manager.

When one of the female executives asked if she felt she already was successful, Gervacio replied that success is relative, because every career woman is a “work in progress.”

“Success for me is when I see my kids contributing to society,” she added.

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