Press Release
March 6, 2020


Sen. Grace Poe on Thursday urged Filipino women trailblazers to create more opportunities that would help marginalized and struggling women succeed, saying that the presence of "poster girls" in government and other industries was not reflective of the true state of the Filipina.

"It is incumbent on those of us who have succeeded in our careers, to help pave the way for others to follow. We have to hang together or we hang separately so let us help each other," Poe made the appeal in front of women leaders, foreign dignitaries and other guests from various sectors at the #Women2020 Summit, an event organized by non-profit organization Spark! Philippines to mark International Women's Day.

The summit gathered esteemed women and leaders from various institutions to discuss the position of women in leading the new decade and the progression, inclusion, innovation, new opportunities and evolution of the roles of women.

Tasked to speak on how women were changing the world and creating change through gender-responsive legislation, Poe called attention to the disparity that women face in terms of work and opportunities for success, and the double-edged sword that female leaders carried.

"Women's roles in nation-building still appear restrictive. Being a woman in a leadership position has always been a challenge. When a man is tough, people will say he's a good boss or a good leader. But if it's a woman who is tough or strict, she's called [another thing] also begins with a 'B' but derogatory," she said.

Poe said that while the Philippines ranked no. 1 out of 32 countries in having the most number of women executives in top leadership roles--43 percent of Filipino women executives hold senior management posts, according to Grant Thornton Internationals' 2020 Women in Business Report--many other women toiled abroad or in the informal sector without benefits or protection.

Many Filipino women were still forced to leave their families to find better paying jobs abroad while others who had no other option worked as vendors, househelps or handicraft makers in the country without occupational benefits, she pointed out.

The senator also noted the rising incidence of teenage pregnancies in the country, with many young women compelled to deal with uncertain future due to lack of access to reproductive health services.

"It would not be accurate to cite the successes of women who have landed in Makati or in BGC such as yourselves. The presence of poster girls in many industries, or in government or in sports is not reflective of the majority of women in our country," she said.

"Because for every Pinay who has reached the summit, there are countless more struggling, stranded, or falling down the slope," she said.

Poe welcomed the summit as "the perfect time" not only to reflect on the gains of the Filipino women but also the things that still needed to be done. "Let us remember that we are only as strong as our weakest link," she said.

The senator, who has championed many bills for women, such as the Anti-Discrimination Bill, the Safe Spaces Act and the First 1,000 Days Act, also emphasized the need for policymakers like her to craft laws that allow women to achieve more "and ride the wave of this complex, fast-paced global evolution."

She said women must be given tools that will help them adapt, innovate and compete in the new decade. "We must do our best to enable all women to participate meaningfully in development," she added.

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