Press Release
March 7, 2014

Villar Focuses on Economic Empowerment of Filipino Women
Creation of community enterprises, skills-up training for OFWs, helping farmers
and fisherfolks among key advocacies

Senator Cynthia Villar, who is also popularly known as 'Misis Hanepbuhay', is still busy going around the country providing training, jobs and livelihood to women and their families. As of latest count, Villar has established 490 livelihood projects nationwide. She aspires to set up one livelihood project in each of the 1,600 municipalities and cities in the Philippines.

"I would like to be remembered as the woman who has built the most number of livelihood projects in the country. I believe that economic empowerment is a very important component of women empowerment. I would like more women to be financially independent to provide for themselves, their children and help their husband augment the family's income," said Villar.

Villar's livelihood programs started during her term as a congresswoman of Las Pinas for nine years in 2001 to 2010, which she continued when she was managing director of Villar Foundation (now called Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance or Villar SIPAG). Over 500 families in Las Pinas are still benefiting from her livelihood projects, which have been duplicated nationwide.

Villar, one of the guests of honor and forum panelists at the 6th Women Entrepreneurship Summit of GoNegosyo on Friday (March 7), also serves as an inspiration to women entrepreneurs. Last year, she was awarded as one of 'The Women Entrepreneur Icons and Filipina Entrepreneurs' for her social entrepreneurial endeavors particularly for 'helping thousands of families--from overseas Filipino workers or OFWs to the mothers living in the poor communities, by teaching them an alternative and sustainable means of livelihood'.

"I am often asked: why am I so determined to help women? My answer: because 50% of our country's population consists of women, and more than 50% of our OFWs are also women," said Villar.

Villar's Sagip-OFW program has an active skills-up program which assists repatriated OFWs and their families who are having difficulty in finding employment. They conduct skills training, in employable fields such as bartending, commercial cooking and housekeeping.

Villar also expressed concern over the women affected by the recent typhoon, which according to the data from the United Nations, reached over 3.5 million. As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Villar has also done the rounds of typhoon Yolanda-affected areas in Leyte, Samar, Davao, Aklan among others. She has provided farmers, fishermen and their families with assistance to get them back on their feet. These include roofs for their damaged houses, farm implements (vegetable seeds, seedlings, and fertilizer), and motorized bancas (boats) so they can return to the fields and the sea where they get their livelihood.

"I personally advocate for the empowerment of women across all sectors of the society because when we empower women, we empower families and generations of people. It is also my belief that women play an important role in nation-building, we need more empowered women to participate and take the lead," said Villar.

She cited that the present 16th Congress of the Senate sets the record for having the most number of female legislators. Six of them including Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay at Grace Poe.

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