By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Start them young. To help prepare young women break gender barriers and promote equality in their schools, homes, and future workplaces, a new campaign was launched to focus on empowering girls even before they start their careers.
Edukasyon.ph, an education technology startup in the Philippines, in partnership with the Australian Government’s initiative called “Investing in Women (IW),” has kicked off its year-long campaign to support young girls in achieving their full potential from education to employment.
The campaign, “Investing in the Future of Young Pinays,” was launched recently at the BGC Arts Center, Taguig City. Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her support to the new campaign. “We are fortunate and proud to have you as our partners to inspire young Pinays to break barriers and bring out the best in themselves,” the vice president said in a video message.
IW CEO Julia Newton-Howes said that “no country can flourish when they’re only using 50% of the talent that’s available to them” thus, there is a need to “unleash the talent of entire populations.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who was the guest of honor, highlighted the importance of inspiring young women. “Just like men, women have just as much of a right to chart our own futures and choose the lives we live . . . to show that the best way forward for any society is to involve as many of its sectors as possible,” the senator said.
Empowering young women
Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report that said “girls comprise 63% of out-of-school youth” and the 2016 Labor Force Survey that “4 in 5 working-age men are employed while only half or 2.5 out of 5 women are in the labor force,” the campaign aims to focus on empowering young Filipinas for their education-to-employment journey.
“Despite improvements in gender equality globally and in Southeast Asia, progress is being held back by social and cultural norms that discriminate against women,” said IW Advocacy and Communications Director Donna-Jean Nicholson.
The organizers believe that in the Philippines – despite being ranked 10th out of 144 countries in World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Index – there is “still so much to be done to achieve equality especially in the workplace.”
The labor force survey also said only 50% of working age women are in the labor force, while men comprise 80%. A significant share of employed women is engaged in jobs with unfavorable working conditions. Given this, the organizers of the campaign believe that bridging the “gender gap requires a shift in culture, traditions, and mindset and this can happen when Filipinos, as early as their formative school-age years, are well-informed from education to employment.”
Nicholson noted that everyone has a responsibility in making this happen. “This is why we have worked with Edukasyon to access the incredible platform that they’re developing to provide those choices to girls…our partnership with Edukasyon.ph aims to address this barrier and encourage positive gender norms,” she added.
The campaign mobilizes online and offline efforts to shift mindsets and inspire action for the benefit of women—ultimately leading to economic growth in the country. It also comprises a series of career clinics and online content (blog articles, videos, and social media posts) that inspire young girls and boys alike to transcend gender norms as they find the right education fit for their skills and passions. Through Edukasyon.ph, students will then have easier access to schools, scholarships and study opportunities abroad.
Women worth following
To better reach young women, Edukasyon.ph also partnered with 10 youth ambassadors who are empowered women of various professions and advocacies. The youth ambassadors were introduced during the event. They are young techpreneur Audrey Pe; mental health advocate Apple Nocom; “multi-hyphenate” mom Chal Lontoc- Del Rosario; gender equality advocate Chuks Arias; storyteller Jen Tarnate; creative entrepreneur Kara Pangilinan; LGBTQ+ advocate Kelsey Hadjirul; youth leader and innovator Meryl Jalani; outstanding youth from Cebu Riziel Saladaga; and PH’s youngest legislator Sittie Lao.
Nicholson noted that “both the campaign and the 10 youth ambassadors will be instrumental in supporting young girls to develop their career aspirations, educational goals, and social behavior that will allow them to thrive today and in the future.”
Investing in young Pinays
Edukasyon.ph founder and CEO Henry Motte-Muñoz underscored the importance of guiding the Filipino youth in their education-to-employment journey.
“Knowing that women are still disadvantaged on this front, we wanted to do a campaign focusing on young women who are choosing schools, senior high strands, and courses, as well as those who are just about to enter the workforce,” he said. “We want them to feel empowered to take control of their future,” he added.
Edukasyon.ph’s campaign takes a three-pronged approach to provide young urban women aged 16 – 24 with choice, convenience and advice. The efforts will ultimately help guide young girls in their education and career decisions that match their potentials. Online content championing messages of empowerment, choice and can-do spirit will be produced in different formats and will be published in Edukasyon.ph’s growing digital channels.
To supplement its online efforts, there will also be career seminars for junior high school (JHS) and senior high school (SHS) students. For the JHS students, the program will focus on SHS tracks. For SHS students, it will tackle the three exit points from SHS – college, work and entrepreneurship.
The IW works across Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam to promote women’s economic empowerment. It considers a woman economically empowered when she has both the ability to succeed and advance economically and the power to make and act on economic decisions.
Edukasyon.ph is an EdTech startup in the Philippines that helps senior high school and college students make better-informed decisions through a one-stop platform offering education options and advice. It connects Filipino students to opportunities locally and abroad by providing a comprehensive online database of schools, scholarships, courses, and study abroad programs.
On the Edukasyon.ph website, students can search and apply for more than 13,000 schools here and abroad, more than 20,000 tracks and courses, and 4,000 scholarships from foundations, private institutions, and government agencies. To date, Edukasyon has generated one million monthly unique visits, and 65,000 student inquiries and applications.