By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – A Filipino woman leader has underscored the fact that seven women world leaders have effectively responded to the COVID19 global pandemic, and added to her list Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo as well.
Virginia ‘Gigie’ Peñalosa, Governor-elect of the Soroptimist International of the America’s Philippine Region, said that despite the hardships that the pandemic has brought, women have shown effective leadership, heroism, and volunteerism.
Penalosa was a guest in the show Women’s World, a zoom-driven digital conversation sponsored by the Women’s Federation for World Peace and OSM! Online Magazine on June 16, 2020.
Citing the Forbes magazine as source, these women presidents and prime ministers have been affirmed by Penalosa for their effective leadership in Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway. She noted that Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo likewise provided that nurturing, shining leadership in the face of the pandemic.
The Soroptimist International of the Americas, which will soon turn a hundred years old, has provided education scholarships to women worldwide. It was founded in 1921 in Oakland, California as a volunteer organization providing support to women and girls.
In the Philippines, the SIA has recently provided funds for vocational courses of village women on cooking and sewing through its Dream Program. It also spent for a drinking water facility in the town of Montesunting in Carmen, Bohol, nourishing school children who walk their way to school and ensuring that the entire community has access to clean, potable water. These support programs have come a long way in providing ways for women to thrive and communities to live decently.
Here are excerpts of Penalosa’s presentation and interview by Women’s World hosts Marivir Montebon, Arceli Hernando, and Merly Barlaan:
Women leaders are stepping up effectively in the face of Covid
GP: This coronavirus pandemic has really hit us hard and caught us by surprise and changed our lives throughout the world. Despite all the horrific things that happened, many positive things that came about. One of which is how we have brought the best of women especially in leadership, heroism and volunteerism.
Global leadership of women, only 7 percent of leadership roles in the world are held by women. Coincidentally, the leaders of seven countries whose leaders are women have gallantly contained the coronavirus. These leaders have been lauded because of their swift action, swift response and ability to make quick decisions. These 7 women leaders – according to Forbes.com – are: Angela Merkel (Germany), Tsai Ing-wen (Taiwan), Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), Katrin Jakobsdottir (Iceland), Sanna Marin (Finland), Erna Solberg (Norway), and Mette Frederiksen (Denmark).
They make quick decisions, show very organized effective management, collaboration, motherly heart, empathy and compassion. They inspire people to come together and minimize the impact of covid.
Empathy and compassion are aspects of their leadership. These women leaders are the shining stars.
GP: A big factor in leadership is the volunteerism of women. Studies show that women volunteer more than men. This is due to our natural maternal instinct and multi-tasking ability. We have natural compassion and empathy in any given situation which is always inside us.
Volunteerism is a gift to the community. Our frontliners are considered heroes. They’re best examples of volunteerism. They’re the retired women doctors despite the dangers posed by the virus, the law enforcers, bank tellers and those who deliver essential things. They brave the odds.
A crisis brings out the best in people
GP: In the homefront – many discovered their other talents. In cooking, for example, while giving out food, women also make money. Some discovered fashion designing and perfected their art.
Many things came out that really provided business opportunities, no matter how small they are. A crisis brings out the best in people.
What will be the future for this world in the post-pandemic era?
GP: Education will now rely more on distance and online learning. The benefits remain to be seen. The children will be hooked to social media and to their gadgets. I hope that these circumstances won’t affect their social interaction abilities.
After experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic, people will be more conscious of sanitation, hygiene, health and fitness. They’d care and advocate more for the environment in their desire to have clean air and surroundings.
Young people will likely be at home more, or live farther, preferring more quiet spaces and suburban areas to lessen their stress and improve their self-being.
By 2026, it is forecast that the Gen Z will reach about 82 million, the largest generation ever, and even more than the Baby Boomers. They’re tech savvy and tech-addicted.
They value social justice more than anyone else, are socially focused, and love their freedom of expression. More importantly, this is one generation that will care about the planet. The previous generations have squandered our planet.
What is the Soroptimist contribution in advancing women leadership globally?
GP: With these changing scenarios that will affect our future generation, more girls should consider getting into a STEM Education or science, technology engineering, and Mathematics courses.
It is important that women and girls because technology is dictating the phase of our lives. It is the way to go now. So much demand for these courses already. Many employment opportunities.
This pandemic, unfortunately, will likewise unduly impact the disadvantaged sector. Girls will be very vulnerable with cases on early marriages, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, and child labor.
The only thing that can counter this thing is no other than education. Education is the leading program of the Soroptimists which will soon be 100 years old. We have spent more than half a century in the Philippines improving the lives of women and girls, out of poverty. Our Dream Program is meant to enable women and girls to dream for a better life. #
(Featured photo is Ms. Virginia Penalosa in Manila during the zoom-driven conversation Women’s World with hosts Marivir Montebon, Merly Barlaan, and Arceli Hernando)