MINDFUL

By Jay Ledesma

IN celebration of International Woman’s Month, I wish to acknowledge and highlight how Filipinas have continued to advance their roles and contributions to our society. 

Gone were the days when women of our country were expected to stay behind the shadow of their fathers and their husbands. Gone were the Maria Claras of the past who were then just expected to stay at home, do the chores, bear children and serve the man/men of the house.

Today, Filipinas know what they want, are more involved, take the lead, speak out their minds, make decisions, and are listened to. They have shown that they can do a lot more aside from making a home. 

The pandemic that we are in now, is proving the vital roles that women play not only in their own families but also in their communities. 

First, women are leading the health response. Almost 70% of the health care workforce is women, from doctors to nurses to medical technologists down to medical aides. These women are at the forefront of the health crisis our country is facing. They bravely face the risks their jobs bring not only because it’s their duty but because they want to be a part of the solution and make a difference. 

At the same time, the pandemic highlighted the multi-tasking skills of women. While busy with their jobs, women are also in charge of much of the chores at the home front. They are doing their own work from home duties while tutoring and helping their children with their online studies and cooking or doing laundry in between. Many even managed to do online selling for additional income. And still, find time to enjoy e-parties with friends after work or on weekends. Never underestimate her ability to do more than two things at a time. She can always manage to have her plates full. 

More children are saying that their spiritual and religious beliefs are influenced more by the women in their families. They consider either their mother or their grandma, or their aunt, or their eldest sister who is primarily responsible for molding and shaping their spirituality growing up. It’s the women of the house who would often lead the Bible studies, the daily rosary, the Sunday church visits, and the novenas. Women have taken upon themselves to assume this responsibility and opportunity to guide and grow their children spiritually. 

The women’s market continues to grow. The purchasing power and influence of women is very much recognized as seen on product advertisements and showroom displays. About 95% of Ads you will see on different media platform is directed to the female audience. While about 80% of stores in malls and shopping outlets cater to female shoppers. This is because women are usually the budget keepers and the ones making decisions on their household purchases. It is also because more women are becoming financially independent. More are earning their own money thus, are now empowered to decide what, when, where, and how to buy. They don’t have to get the approval or permission of someone else to buy themselves or their family members what they want and need. They have a big say in the consumption behaviors of Filipino families. They are driving the consumption sector of our country. 

More sales and service-oriented sectors are getting more women into their workforce. As most of these sectors are high on person-to-person interactions, women are preferred for this role because they are usually kinder, more patient, and gentler. That’s why in general, you will notice that the most successful salespeople are women. Women tend to listen and understand more. It’s not seen as being weak but it’s a woman’s version of being strong. To be strong doesn’t mean you have to be physically strong like a man. We don’t have to be aggressive and mad to be considered strong. Women have the ability to be firm but stay calm and gentle. It is said that we are strongest when we are gentle. Heard about women being the real stronger sex? 

I am happy that compared to other countries, gender equality is much more felt in the Philippines. More women are occupying critical positions in the workplace, even taking on work and positions previously associated only with men. We have had two female Philippine Presidents and two female Philippine Vice-Presidents, including the incumbent VP Leny. We have more Filipinas in both Senate and Congress and in several local government units.  We see more Filipina athletes making names and bringing pride to our country. 

Even private corporations are recognizing and giving importance to women's empowerment. More Filipinas have climbed up the corporate ladder in recognition of their talents and contributions to the growth of their companies. Their voices are heard, their opinions mattered and their decisions respected. 

Though much can still be desired about gender equality, at least we can say that we have taken big strides towards its realization. 

We love and respect the men in our lives. But let’s be mindful that the Filipina of today no longer allows a man or anyone for that matter to define who she is and who she can become. She knows what she wants and is determined to do what it takes to make it happen. She does not depend on fate, destiny, or man to make it happen for her. She is empowered. She is her own person. 

As my daughter, Abbie will always say, “ I am a strong independent woman!” To which I add, “Proudly a Woman. Proudly a Filipina.”

P.S. Incidentally, the Life Underwriters Association of the Philippines (LUA-P) will be holding the 14th Philippine Life Insurance Congress this coming March 18-19, 2021.  As the Congress is happening during the International Women’s Month and in honor of the many female members of the Philippine  life insurance industry, 

LUA-P is bringing in local and international empowered women speakers. These women will share how they led, conquered challenges, and uplifted the lives of other women. Their stories aim to inspire others as we continue our fight against COVID-19. For more information about the event, you may visit www.lifecon.ph.

About the Columnist

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Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.