MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday, May 16, emphasized that women empowerment should not be about competing with men.
"It's not about drowning out their voice. It is not about having better pay, greater wealth, faster success, or higher ranking than the male population," Robredo told the women gathered in the She for She forum.
"Sometimes, it is about collaboration rather than leading. Sometimes, it is about following and encouraging others to follow as well," she also said. (READ: Robredo to Filipino women: Feminism about 'building bridges')
While calling for collaboration with men, Robredo urged women to take on the challenge of fighting for women empowerment in the country.
She said that while the Philippines ranks well in the Global Gender Gap Index at 7th out of 145 countries, women in the country continue to face job discrimination and unsafe working conditions.
"While more than 70% of our men are in the labor force, only half of our women have access to jobs. For every $1 a Filipina earns, a man earns $1.45 on the average," the Vice President said.
"Women in this country account for 11.2 million of our population living in poverty," she continued.
Robredo said women will only achieve real independence when they become economically empowered. Women, she added, should be linked to mentors who would help them build sustainable enterprises.
"When women are liberated from fear and self-doubt, they thrive and flourish," the Vice President said. (READ: Robredo honored as 'outstanding woman' in Southeast Asia)
Aside from labor discrimination, Robredo noted that sexism and abuse persist. Women continue to face violence and harassment in new forms through social media.
She called on women to come together and fight the growing culture of misogyny that she herself has experienced. (READ: 'Difficult time for women' under Duterte admin – Robredo)
"There is also no excuse for keeping quiet when somebody we know is battling misogynistic behavior... There is no excuse for standing back when we see injustices suffered by women in our society," said Robredo, who was a longtime human rights lawyer before she joined politics.
The Vice President was among the guest speakers of the She for She forum, which was organized by the France embassy in Manila as part of the 70th anniversary of Philippine-French friendship.
The forum aims to strengthen solidarity among women through the discussion of pressing issues they face, from political participation to maternal health. (READ: 'I am a nun but I am pro-RH law' – Sr Mary John Mananzan) – Rappler.com