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Women who lead

Authentic equality, diversity, inclusivity

Surviving and thriving in 2021 amid the pandemic was no easy feat, and I know you share the same sentiments. As we head into 2022 with new COVID-19 variants, along with new quarantine measures, we can say with certainty that there will be even more challenges to face in navigating this so-called “new normal.”

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Unhindered by setbacks. As we speak of challenges, the gender equality advocacy took and is still taking a hit. According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report, the pandemic has added 36 years to the amount of time it will take to close the gender gap. This means it will now take approximately 135.6 years for women and men to reach parity.

Worse, as we have seen during the past couple of years, women and girls continue to get the short end of the stick with unpaid care work, double burden, and the persistent lack of significant representation in key decision-making bodies. While we know that this is the problem, the future is not all bleak—as the pandemic also brought about resilience, creativity, and increased collaboration. There is an opportunity to restart and power through. What can we do and where do we start?

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Authenticity and why it matters. Allow me to share something I learned as a “millenior.” Members of Gen Z (born 1997 onward) value authenticity in the way they choose products, their behavior in social media, and even where they choose to work. Authenticity has now become crucial, and I must say, rightly so the core of anything we do. The world is rapidly changing and with the rise of fake news and deceitful pieces, authenticity becomes more critical, which makes influencers popular nowadays. The audience feel genuine connection, see authentic and raw content, and they ultimately gravitate to and identify with them.

They also value authentic diversity. Not the kind of diversity that we know of, but rather a mix of experiences, backgrounds, ideas, and opinions, as opposed to the more traditional definition, which is limited to underrepresented ethnic and gender groups. If we listen more, understand new ideas, collaborate with those who have different thoughts and opinions, then we are heading toward the right direction to achieve authentic diversity and inclusivity.

Marathon, not a sprint. Significant progress has been made in “paving the way” to achieve gender equality in society, as well as diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It’s time we think long term. We need organizations and companies to understand that it is not only a short-term objective or a task to tick off on the “ to-do” list. It should be mainstreamed in the way we operate, incorporated in the way we live, and be deeply embedded in work cultures, practices, and mindsets. It is meant to be a learning and unlearning experience for all and a way to inspire partnerships, collaborations, and movements.

Perhaps the stronger and more sustainable and authentic impact we can make is to speak out and take action—all year this 2022 and even beyond. Not just in campaigns, not just during speaking events, and not just during International Women’s Day. We must make it a part of our daily engagements—to call out harmful, outdated practices; to speak out, to listen, understand, and educate each other. We cannot sit idly when there are changes we can make, no matter how small or big they are. This is how we can make authentic and lasting change.

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Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia is the founding chair and president of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN).

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Women Who Lead is an initiative of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN).

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TAGS: COVID-19, Equality, new normal, pandemic
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