Empowered Women: Raising the Bar
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chair, Senate Committee on Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality
Sponsorship speech on PSR No.1237
March 16, 2015
Mr. President, esteemed colleagues,
Last week, I delivered a privilege speech welcoming the start of Women’s Month and issuing a call for greater representation of women, especially in leadership roles and policy and decision-making.
Today, I rise once again still in celebration of Women’s Month. This 2015, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In 1995, thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Beijing with one resolve – gender equality and the empowerment of women everywhere. This resulted in the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint for advancing women’s rights, which envisions a world where every girl and woman has not only her rights and freedoms, but also the means by which to exercise and fulfill them. This Women’s Month is an opportune time to renew our commitment to empower women and achieve gender equality. In the same vein, International Women’s Day 2015 carries the theme, “Make It Happen,” a simple but powerful message that women can achieve anything, surpass expectations, and change the world.
In keeping with this thrust, today we launch the Women’s Month exhibit entitled “Empowered Women: Raising the Bar,” now on its second year. Here, we recognize empowered and outstanding women who have made valuable contributions in different areas of society.
In this light, I rise to sponsor P.S. Resolution No. 1237 which seeks to honor fifteen women for their invaluable contributions. These women are achievers in their respective fields. They inspire the whole nation, especially young girls to excel despite adversities, despite obstacles. We acknowledge the presence of some of these women who are here in the gallery today.
Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, the first Filipina prima ballerina, has been recognized time and again for her achievements in ballet. The “ballerina of the people” has received multiple awards in the country and around the world, including the award for Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), and Ten Outstanding Young Filipinos (TOYF).
Also a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service award is Rachelle Gerodias, the country’s premier soprano. The multi-awarded artist established a foundation which awards scholarships to deserving musicians who cannot afford formal musical training. She earlier sang ‘Ano Kaya ang Kapalaran,’ by National Artist Francisco Santiago.
Sisters Anna and Camille Meloto are social entrepreneurs and founders of Human Nature, Inc. They grew the personal care brand quite literally from the ground up, empowering their workers with stable livelihood and centering their enterprise on their core values of Pro-Philippines, Pro-Poor, and Pro-Environment.
Daphne Oseña-Paez is a multi-awarded TV host, as well as blogger, mother, and entrepreneur. She was appointed by UNICEF Philippines as Special Advocate for Children, and as such, she helps educate mothers all over the country about maternal health, mortality, and breastfeeding.
Olivia Bong Coo is a four-time World Champion Bowler, and the most bemedalled Filipino athlete. She earned 78 medals during her career with the national team, and a total of 135 championship titles. Apart from multiple local and international athletic awards, she is a TOWNS awardee and the First Filipino athlete listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Finally, we have the Pinay Mt. Everest Team, made up of Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, and Janet Belarmino, the first Southeast Asian women  to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain. Here with us today is Noelle, who is also a member of the Philippine Dragon Boat team, a biker, and an extreme adventure athlete.
Although they are not here with us this afternoon, we also honor the following empowered women: Lang Dulay, a famous T’boli Dreamweaver considered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts as a national living treasure; Monique Lhuiller, a world-renowned fashion designer; Lolita Valderrama-Savage, a Pinoy Global Artist; the late Dr. Fe del Mundo, the first woman admitted to Harvard Medical School; Jurgenne Primavera, one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment; Roselle Ambubuyog, the first visually-impaired Filipina to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Ateneo de Manila; Cristeta ‘Cris’ Commerford, the first Asian and first female White House Executive Chef; Sheila Lirio Marcelo, who was named as a Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum; and Ani de Leon-Brown, the first Filipina to qualify in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships.
Mr. President, it is an honor to recognize these outstanding women who continue to break the glass ceiling and achieve feats bigger than themselves. True to the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, women “make it happen” in any field they pursue. Society takes massive steps towards progress when men and women work together side by side. The quest for gender equality is not a women’s issue, but an issue for all of us, because indeed, empowering women empowers humanity. Thank you. #
[PHOTO] Women achievers were recognized at the Senate during Monday’s session: (L-R) Noelle Wenceslao, representing the Pinay Mt. Everest Team, four-time world champion bowler Olivia Bong Coo, social entrepreneurs Anna and Camille Meloto, Children’s advocate, TV host and blogger Daphne Osena-Paez, prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, and premier soprano Rachelle Gerodias. The awardees were presented with Senate Resolution No.1237, authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano, who was joined by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Nancy Binay.