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Herstory: Pinays as Agents of Positive Change

Filipino women leaders and trailblazers in the UAE reminded their fellow female compatriots that realizing their self-worth and potential significantly impact the growth and progress of their community and the country.
The celebrations of the International Women’s Day held last March 6 at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai featured eight Filipinas who highlighted the role of female OFWs in creating a positive change in society. It also focused on how the UAE contributes to fostering the spirit of women’s success.
Dr. Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes, one of the main organizers of the event, said that it was the perfect time to further the advocacy of “Each for Equal,” as women are now gaining their rightful place in society.
“Centuries ago, women have been relegated as a second or even third-class citizens in any given society. Now, we live in a world where the role of women has become vital. [During the panel], we heard from very accomplished Filipino women their views about what more women can achieve in the next decades and how it can further its roles in an increasingly fast and modern society,” she said.
Aside from Dr. Cortes, other Filipinas featured in the event are New Perspective Media Group CEO Dr. Karen Remo; Prime Group CEO Dr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi; PHD Media Business Unit Director Roxane Negrillo; Sanofi Communications and CSR Director Jorhie Alban; Professional Life Coach Lou Olvido-Parroco; Dagaz HR Consultancy Managing Director Cristina Calaguian; and The Filipino Channel Broadcast Journalist Rachel Salinel.
Dr. Cortes added that this initiative aimed to further inspire Filipino women in the UAE, and motivate them to keep reaching for their potentials, not based on their desire to prove their worth in comparison to men but to simply be their most excellent self.
“Overseas Filipino women must keep in mind that their worth is not based on any prejudice about what women or Filipinos could achieve. Their visions of who they can be are as worthy as any other ethnicity, regardless of class, gender, or economic standing,” she said.
In addition, Al Mahdi also said that for women need to rise above the challenges and ranks, as the UAE offers an ideal avenue for women to pursue their dreams.
“The UAE government is promoting female leadership. In fact, a lot of its council members are women. Malaki ang space natin sa UAE and many Filipina leaders who are living here are really doing a great job and portraying their role in leadership,” she said.
Measure of success
Dr. Remo said that the mere fact that OFs have made it to the UAE, a world-class country, is already a testament of success.
“What do Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Frame have in common?” she asked. “They are all Guinness Book of Records icons. Burn Khalifa is the world’s tallest tower; Dubai Frame is the world’s largest building in the shape of a picture frame and the world’s highest tennis court up was set up there at the top of Burj Khalifa, dubbed as the world’s only 7-star hotel. You are successful because you are one of the few who get to have the opportunity to live in this world-class country.”
Being able to send money to Philippines to help their families and consequently contribute to national economy is another proof of success, Remo underscored.
“Madami kayong natulungan, napagtapos, at napag-aral. You are making a positive impact in everyone’s lives. Sa anak niyo, kapatid, kamag-anak, nanay, tatay, at kahit kapitbahay,” Dr Remo said.
She said female OFs should be proud of what they have achieved and remember that the impact they have made on their loved-ones is a success in itself.
The beauty of being yourself
In addition, Parroco talked about how women should learn the value of unmasking themselves, comparing the present circumstance of wearing physical face masks from health threats to the emotional masks women wear to conceal their shortcomings and failures. She stressed that both masks provide a false sense of security.
“Being just you is actually the best and most perfect thing you could ever be. When you are real you don’t have to be a copycat of everyone else. Be the best version of yourself and try to fulfill your mission of making this life a better place,” she said.
On women having a challenger mindset
Meanwhile, Negrillo said that a woman’s success lies in having a challenger mindset, which is, the ability to always be on the move, always innovate and improve oneself.
She opposed the idea of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” saying that, “If you don’t fix it even if it’s not broken, you don’t grow. Look at what happened to Nokia, they thought everything was fine. Then came Apple and Android, and they’re gone. You have to have an innovative mindset to be able to grow.”
Empowering women from all walks of life
Salinel, during the discussion, talked about how her profession as a journalist has equipped her with the necessary tools to empower other women. For years, she has personally witnessed the resilience of female OFWs in various countries like Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
“I can only be grateful to be given an opportunity to do the work na ginagalawan ko ngayon para ma-empower ang mga Pilipina. Whatever it takes to empower women, I will do everything to achieve it,” she said.
Alban, for her part, said that the real success of a woman lies in being able to choose what she wants for her life—whether it’s a life of leadership or a simple, peaceful one with her family.
She added that a woman does not need to pursue a life of leadership to be successful, saying that “if you choose what you believe will make you happy, then you are successful.”
Calaguian, meanwhile, encouraged everyone to maintain a community for women and urged participants to join ‘Tinig Ng Kababaihan’—a Facebook group dedicated solely to creating a strong community that will empower every Filipino woman in social media.
“We ask you to join us and be with all these women and globally invite even the young ones. Maraming istoryang pwedeng matutunan sa ating lahat and we want to continue those stories of inspiration long after this celebration,” she said.
“Sa totoo lang, may mga panahon na nanliliit ang tingin ko sa sarili ko. Napapatanong ako kung magiging kasing galing ba ako ng ibang mga kababayan ko. Pero ngayon, na-realize ko na importante ang ginagawa ko dahil kung hindi dahil sa pagsasakripisyo ko dito sa UAE, hindi ko matutulungan ang pamilya ko. Alam ko din na may naitutulong ako sa ekonomiya natin dahil sa mga padala ko sa Pilipinas,” said ‘Jenny’, a household worker who was one of the many Overseas Filipino workers in attendance. Jenny was reminded of the vital role that she plays for her family back home, which collectively forms a huge contribution towards the development of the Philippines as a nation with the OFWs’ continuous contributions.
Another domestic helper, Sarah Dimaguiba, said that she become encouraged to work even harder after listening to each of the stories. She learned that they too, had their share of problems, struggles, and challenges that they eventually conquered.
“Nakaka-inspire marinig ang kwento ng iba pang mga Pilipina dito sa UAE, at nakakatuwang marinig sa kanila na malaking bagay ang ginagawa namin para makatulong sa bayan at sa pamilya namin. Kapag kumakayod ka kasi, hindi mo naman maiisip kung ano ang impact na ginagawa mo. Alam ko lang gusto kong matulungan ang pamilya ko. Pero ang sarap pakinggan mula sa ibang tao na importante kami,” she said.

Staff Report

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