Sometimes men cannot help but say “Is women empowerment advocacy too sexist?” I would rather call it gender-sensitive, not sexist. Fortunately, Filipinas are empowered women, and many Filipino men are gender-sensitive. I have written quite a few articles on gender sensitivity soon after I sat as a business sector representative in the Philippine Commission on Women and Canadian International Development Agency’s project called GREAT or the Gender Responsive Economic Actions for Transformation, which gave birth to a brand called Great Women.
Just look at the winners of the Ernst&Young (EOY) Entrepreneur of the Year awards. There is a category for Women Entrepreneur and indeed all the winners of this category have supportive male partners. Look at Myla Villanueva, the “Steve Jobs” of the Philippines. Look at Cora Ong of CDO. Recently, Narda Capuyan who also won Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year. She has her husband Wilson breathing the wind beneath her wings. Pushing their women forward. These men are secure and very much gender-sensitive.
Then let’s look at Women’s Business Council of the Philippines—our chairman, Boots Garcia takes along her hubby Sonny to most of our women events like the Global Summit of Women in Turkey, Athens, Kuala Lumpur, and recently, the APEC meet in Bali. Sonny does not mind tagging along and doing his stuff while we women attend the meetings.
Now, let’s look at the younger set like the Business and Professional Women (BPW) Philippine chapter. The BPW is known for its campaign Women Stepping Up because even at a young age, social media professionals, writers, media people who are women have come to the front—even while they lead normal healthy emotional family lives. Take Nines Terol-Zialcita, who is a media practitioner. Take Lexi Schulze, and her supportive husband. These young women have spouses who know their women are in the limelight and are their own personalities, of course.
Women should read Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Lean In to get a pretty good idea what we deserve, what we can claim and what we should be doing without being called “feminist” or “Burn the bra” kind of activist. Women should step up.
It is not threatening for secure males to nudge their women to rise up. Women, after all, are multi-taskers. They can dress the kids for school, fix today’s dinner and still attend to a gazillion things in the office or at home. There are WAHM (Work at Home Moms) like Janice Lim, Martine de Luna and many more friends of mine on Twitter who balance their work and home life or rather, harmonize their activities besides being good partners to their spouses.
Women are indeed stepping up. This November 12 at the RCBC Auditorium, BPW will gather women speakers from around the world to talk about how to Step Up. There will be sessions on Personal Branding, Working Abroad, Leading companies and starting new ones. It is a good forum for the young and not-so-young women who are still contemplating on that first step to financial independence, emotional security and lifelong happiness with supportive partners.
Don’t miss it. And maybe the women should also bring their partners so men can understand that we mean well and then they will be gender-responsive in their plans, gender-sensitive in their ways and all it will lead to is a happy place. A happy place to rear your children and their children.
BPW is open for young women who are in business, independent or corporate business, and professionals. It is attached to BPW International and works with the UN Women and other international organizations. In the Philippines, it is headed by Museum Curator and Culture Expert Jeannie Javelosa.
After all, “women stepping up” is happening all over the world. Thank you, men, for paving the way.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.