Empowered Young Women Leaders Stand Up to Address Gender and Development Issues and Let their Voices Be Heard

MANILA-March 21, 2013 – Empowered young women leaders from Albay, Aklan, Iloilo, Oriental Mindoro, Sarangani and Surigao del Norte, together with national leaders from Youth Vote Philippines, Pinoy Erasmus Mundus and Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, converged in the Young Women Leaders’ Initiative and crafted the Young Women Manifesto. The Young Women Manifesto gives young women leaders a direct voice and therefore soft influence on the issues that matter to them.

Hon. Luiza Carvalho, (seated 2nd from the left , third row); Vicente Sellés Zaragozi; and Zorayda Alonzo, Board Member of Bases Conversion Development Authority join key officials and staff from the Philippine Commission on Women, AECID representatives, and young women leaders in the culminating activity of the Young Women Leaders Initiative.

The Manifesto is a product of the two-day activity spearheaded by the Philippine Commission Women, with support from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation or AECID. The Young Women Leaders’ Initiative is a crucial sub-project of the AECID-funded program on the Implementation of the Magna Carta of Women in order to sustain the gains of the Philippines in addressing women’s issues and create a network’ for a new generation of empowered young women. The theme of the activity is “Leading Change on a Straight Path to Engendered Governance”.

The two-day activity featured mentorship sessions; Amazing G-race, a gender sensitivity training which simulates the Amazing Race; and presentation of Young Women Manifesto which was graced by Hon. Luiza Carvalho, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative; Vicente Sellés Zaragozi, Coordinator General of AECID Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and Zorayda Alonzo, Board Member of Bases Conversion Development Authority.

Top women leaders from the government, arts and media, social development and business sector served as mentors to the young women leaders. Honorable Chiyo Kanda, deputy country director of the World Bank and Ms. Nora E. Pinzon, acting office chief of Program Resources Management Office of the US Agency for International Development; Honorable Julia Andrea Abad, chief of the Presidential Management Staff; Undersecretary Lesley Jeanne Cordero of Presidential Communications Operations Office; Ms. Victoria Pineda Garchitorena, former Ayala Foundation president; Ms. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, president of CIBA Capital and Women’s Business Council; Claire Delfin, multi-awardeed broadcast journalist of GMA Network; Commissioner Raida Bansil-Maglangit of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos; Ms. Niña Rica Terol Zialcita, president and deputy editor of ProPinoy.net; Ms. Luzviminda Villanueva, project manager of the Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women or GREAT Women Project; Bai Rohaniza Usman, country director of Asia-American Initiative; Maxine Tanya Hamada, executive director of INCITEGov; and Thelma Gecolea of the Delegation of the European Union in the Philippines guided the young women leaders to think through their experiences and their future plans- where they are now, where they want to go and how.

Victoria Pineda Garchitorena (3rd from left) answers a question during the open forum.. Ms. Nora Pinzon (1st from the left) and Honorable Chiyo Kanda (middle) were also in the panel.

The mentors left memorable words of wisdom to the young women leaders. Ms. Garchitorena encouraged the participants to be strong and persevere. “The important thing is don’t give up. You cannot get discouraged. There is so much you can do… My challenge for you is to take the opportunities that abound for you to exploit and for you to chart your future. You will be the future generation. You will be the future leaders,” she said.

For the experiences and learning shared by the mentors, young women leaders are grateful to have been part of the two-day activity. “I am very happy that I am one of the chosen young women leaders given the chance to attend one of the momentous event. We were inspired by the mentors and by the stories. I am planning to run as a governor of our Education Department. During the first day of the mentorship session, na-inspire po ako. Hindi po ako dapat matakot. Dream big. Sky is the limit. Huwag akong matakot kasi babae ako. May magagawa po ako. I have the guts. I am really capable. I have realized that of the things have been said and shared , I am actually inspired. Mas na-motivate and encouraged to do more for the development of youth and the women especially in our community,” Jean Daryl Ampong of Surigao del Norte shared.

Jasmine Watson of De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, an intern at the Philippine Commission on Women, has positive thoughts on the manifesto. “I think this manifesto of these young women will be really helpful if proper implementation will be done at the local government units. This is a very special month for the women and I think having this and with proper cooperation from the government units, this will really be helpful for the women and youth in the Philippines,” Watson said.