Every year the Filipina Women’s Network honors 100 of the Most Influential Filipinas in the World (Global FWN100™) to recognize their achievements in the global workplace and their local communities. This year these women, past awardees and other leaders gathered in Cebu, Philippines for the 13th Annual Filipina Leadership Global Summit.
The summit began with a warm welcome from Governor Davide III and Vice Governor Magpale at Cebu’s Provincial Capitol. The University of Cebu’s talented dance team awed us with a production fit for a Broadway stage. Additionally, 10 fearless Cebuana Influentials shared valuable secrets and hidden gems in their home town.
What followed was a day of enlightening learning journeys that showcased Cebu’s rich history and thriving economic sectors. The Filipina Women’s Network launched its second book, DISRUPT 2.0. Filipina Women: Daring to Lead at the University of Cebu, Banilad where Angelica Berrie (Global FWN100™ ’14) delivered a leadership keynote which urged us all to continue to “live passionately, love unconditionally and lead fearlessly”. During the Pinay Speed FEMtoring session, Global FWN100™ Awardees engaged in an experience similar to speed-dating with young, trailblazing Cebuanas. I was fortunate enough to participate! It was during this session that I realized the magnitude of FEMtorship and its incredible benefits. The responsibilities of FEMtorship are much larger than guiding a young woman through these new experiences. FEMtoring is about empowerment. Clearly, imparting support, guidance, and transparency are crucial to every FEMtor/FEMtee relationship. However, without a FEMtee realizing that reaching such success is even possible, these resources become futile. The FEMtors helped us navigate through today’s world as Filipina women. More importantly, they validated our aspirations to not only get a seat at the table, but to be at the head of it.
On the third day of the #FWNSummit2016, Vice President Leni Robredo discussed the importance of women’s empowerment in her moving speech upon receiving the FWN100™ Award. Multiple awardees shed light on how they overcame adversity and the issues they continue to face as they attempt to maintain positions of power. Although each woman's experience differed from one another, one thing rang true amongst all awardees. Each and every single woman was a #FilipinaDISRUPTER. Each woman disrupted their lives by making sacrifices to ignite positive change for women. They disrupted traditional gender roles within their community and disrupted the lack of prominence of Filipina women in prestigious positions.
While these Filipina women admirably changed the world for the better, there is still much work to be done. This is where we come in, my dear sisters. So many women have laid the foundation for the next group of influential Filipinas to make their mark. Filipina women today still face discrimination, barred access to public services, and narrow representation in popular culture. In order to achieve FWN’s Pinay Power 2020 mission, we must face these challenges head-on, work unapologetically towards our goals, and mentor those that will continue the advancement of Filipina women’s socio-economic, political and educational influence. After experiencing a summit centered around leadership through collaboration and empowerment, this task does not seem so daunting.
Leira Mae Digma is Chula Vista's Inaugural Youth Ambassador to Cebu, Philippines. She studies economics and management science at University of California San Diego (UCSD). Leira is enthusiastic about learning and adopting skillsets that will allow her to contribute to global health and social justice efforts.