March 30, 2020
By: Vic Diesta
Editor’s Note: Team Evident is primarily composed of women, and gender equality is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. This post contains the reflections of Evident Project Manager Vic Diesta, who attended and was inspired by the #Women2020 Summit at Samsung Hall, SM Aura, on March 5, 2020.
Dreams and ambitions are two things that have always defined me. I always planned my life out, always had alternatives to my primary choices, and so I’ve always had an answer when I’m asked about my dreams and ambitions.
But I realized that as a woman, knowing what you want to do and being able to confidently talk about it is a privilege. This realization came when I heard Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles (Director of the University of the Philippines Center for Women and Gender Studies) talk about how poor women often only dream for their families and not for themselves, and that they find it difficult to talk about what their individual dreams are.
Dr. Verceles mentioned that whenever she visits women in far-flung communities, she would always ask: ”Ano ho mga pangarap niyo sa buhay?” (“What are your aspirations in life?”). And the women would be quick to answer that they dream of getting their children through college, improving their relationship with their husband, and so on—all dreams for their family, and not for themselves. Whenever Dr. Verceles changed her question to: “Ano pong mga pangarap ninyo na para sa sarili ninyo lamang?” (“What are your aspirations for yourself?”), the women always struggled to answer.
A study conducted by US-based Psychiatrist Ana Fels revealed that although women can casually talk about a diverse range of topics, their energy decreases significantly when talking about ambition.
To begin with, women are uncomfortable calling themselves “ambitious” because for them, this “implies egotism, selfishness, self-aggrandizement, or the manipulative use of others for one’s own ends.” Similar to Dr. Africa-Verceles’ insight, Dr. Fels observed that women would often provide ambiguous and vague answers when asked about their dreams.
Interestingly, Dr. Fels also found that these women who provided indecisive answers about their ambitions turned out to have much clearer ambitions when they were significantly younger. More specifically, Dr. Fels found that their childhood dreams were grand, limitless, and unapologetic compared to the ones that they have now.
Let's look back at the #Women2020 Summit: Women in the Next Decade!The summit was a space for women and men to take part in the conversation on women empowerment and gender equality in this day and age. Our keynote speakers, VP Leni Robredo, Senator Grace Poe, and Mayor Joy Belmonte shared their insights as pioneers in gender-responsive governance, while our esteemed panel speakers talked about their work in empowering women in various fields. Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you in our other upcoming events this Women's Month! #GenerationEquality
Posted by SPARK Philippines on Monday, March 9, 2020
Clearly, there’s a gap there. Now, the question is: What made them feel that they can’t dream as boldly as they used to?Dr. Fels says there are two main reasons:
Encouraging young girls to dream and pursue it is great, and there’s no denying that women now have more opportunities to fulfill their dreams. Yet, these are not enough. Improving legal and workplace policies while also addressing harmful gender norms need to take place so these dreams can materialize. Here are some some steps we can take:
The gender gap between men and women may have decreased among children to young adults, as the youth now have better chances of studying and landing a job. But it has now moved to a later part of their lives — the part where they are middle-aged adults struggling to maintain a career while trying to fit into society’s definition of what a “good” mother is.
It is at this time that we should start asking ourselves: If we’re allowing women and girls to gain access to opportunities previously unavailable to them without lightening the burden of their responsibilities in the household, are we really empowering them? Or are we just giving them a false sense of empowerment?
If we are to genuinely support women, we should make sure they have an enabling environment not only at work, but also in their homes, because while women are undoubtedly capable of excelling in both areas, they can only do so with the right support.
Photos by SPARK Philippines