How women lead in the ‘new normal’ | Inquirer Opinion
Women who lead

How women lead in the ‘new normal’

In 2021, much of the narrative was about how the pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities and how it disproportionately affected women. This slowly transitioned to anticipating what the world would look as we moved toward the “new normal.” This year, as we slowly eased into face-to-face gatherings, the conversations on women empowerment and gender equality were put back on the table.

What were some highlights and learnings throughout the “action-packed” 2022?

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Diversity and equality at the top. True to our pursuit of gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in all levels in the workplace, it makes perfect sense to start at the top, specifically in the boardroom. In February, we launched the NextGen Organization of Women Corporate Directors (NOWCD) to increase the percentage of women—especially the younger generation—in boards, build a diverse talent pipeline, and work toward balance, diversity, and equality in corporate boards.

Economic empowerment in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). It has been five years since the Asean Women’s Business Conference in Manila was held and the Action Agenda on Women’s Economic Empowerment was launched. On the same year, the Action Agenda was adopted by the Asean leaders where all 10 member states were encouraged to recognize that gender equality is a cross-cutting concern and is key to inclusive economic growth. Today, the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN), as the designated project lead of the Asean Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN), continues to pursue engagements with key stakeholders and opportunities to fully implement the Action Agenda. Our partnership with Oxfam International has provided us the opportunity to share our insights and efforts in various regional conferences this year—AWEN Awards, the Asean CEO Dialogue in Indonesia, and the Asean Inclusive Business Summit in Cambodia—and the opportunity to participate in a dialogue with Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy of the United Kingdom.

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Workplace gender equality. Through the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE), our efforts to push for diversity and inclusion in the workplace is getting stronger. Initiatives such as the review and enhancement of the workplace gender equality policies of 30-member companies, capacity-building initiatives, and other technical assistance services continue to be provided to the business sector in the Philippines.

Empowering women in the Philippines. Through the tireless efforts of SPARK Philippines, in partnership with the diplomatic community and local governments, programs have been initiated and implemented to support women from challenging backgrounds and difficult situations, and equip them with knowledge, networks, and access to become successful entrepreneurs.

Better together. No one person or organization has the monopoly on good intentions, skills, and resources. This is the very essence of PhilWEN. As a coalition of business organizations, we believe in the power of synergy and collaboration. To achieve our goals, we have to tap into each other’s strengths and continue to lift each other.

On behalf of our stakeholders, I want to commend and thank the PhilWEN trustees, PhilWEN member organizations and their members, and all the partners that continue to trust and work with us.

Achieving the full economic empowerment of women in the Asean and in the Philippines is without doubt a lofty goal and a difficult endeavor. This is how we led in 2022, and will continue to lead in the coming years. If PhilWEN’s activities this year and the progress we have achieved are any indication of success, I dare say: the goals are within our reach, and this should continue to inspire us to keep moving toward a more equal society.

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Ma. Aurora “Boots” D. Geotina-Garcia is the founding chair and president of PhilWEN, cochair of the PBCWE, and chair of NOWCD.

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Women Who Lead is an initiative of PhilWEN.

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