Women for Women

By Jane Kingsu-Cheng

The annual International Women’s Day cel­ebration serves as a reminder of what has been done and what needs to be done. “International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, while also making a call to action for accelerating gender balance,” according to the International Women’s Day website.

POWER TO WOMEN– Mass actions dominated by women are no longer uncommon these days as shown in this recent protest march marking International Women’s Day. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)
POWER TO WOMEN– Mass actions dominated by women are no longer uncommon these days as shown in this recent protest march marking International Women’s Day. (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

The question is, how are we contributing to this mis­sion in the local scene? One such group is She Talks Asia, which is comprised of five passionate women: Sarah Meier-Heredia, Lynn Pinigu, Victoria Herrera, Iza Calzado-Wintle, and Bianca Gonzalez-Intal. It is a movement sparked by the current issues women are fac­ing, with the objective to inspire, empower, and support. CEO and Creative Director Sarah Meier-Heredia shares, “Our vision is really a world where everyone is equal, and everyone has a seat at the table, and everyone’s voice is heard and respected. Our mission is to spark dialogue, sustain conversations, and document women’s (women and women identifying individuals) stories. We want to honor, protect, and perpetuate the collective female wis­dom so that the future generations have a foundation of courage and empathy to build on.”

After mounting their very first conference in 2017 with the theme “Every Girl Can,” they realized that there are alarming issues that needs to be resolved. This serves as fuel for She Talks Asia to consistently mount projects. “I strongly believe in the power of storytelling to spark empathy, catalyze discourse, and trigger global change. By serving as a platform and safe space for women-focused narratives, She Talks generates much needed awareness about the different struggles and triumphs of women. Our aim for these stories is not only to provide a unique window to educate the world about the gender-based challenges that a woman (particularly an Asian woman) goes through, but also to inspire collective action and concrete solutions toward building a more just and equitable society,” explains Lynn Pinugu, COO, Finance and Operations.

This March 16 conference’s theme is “We Are Enough,” with the mission to guide women in realizing their self-worth and potentials. This effort is just one of the many projects lined up for the year, including Tribe Meet Ups (focused discussion groups), grassroots programs, and online accessibility via Facebook Live episodes and other content. Sarah shares, “The bonus is that we raise money for our mentorship programs and workshops for young women and underrepresented girls.”

Get to know these women more and their plans to reach and help more women all over the world:

I think we’re uniquely positioned to amplify women’s voices and stories, and shed light on the nuances of feminism as it evolves in different regions across the globe. I’ve realized, being a third culture kid and living in multiple cities, that empowerment to one woman may look very different from what it looks like to the next. It’s a little bit abstract, but my dream is to educate and inspire people from all over the world to actively engage in defining their individual paths to empowerment, all while holding space fordiscourse and dialogue with others whose paths may look very different. More tangibly, I’d like to collate 100,000 stories from women of different cultures and use them to understand how we can celebrate each other’s differences based on our inherent similarities. — Sarah Meier-Heredia, CEO and Creative Director

I bring to the group my 11 years (and counting!) of experience as an educator and social entrepreneur focused on empowering low-income communities through education and sustainable livelihood for women. In fact, my inspiration for co-founding She Talks Asia was because I’ve seen through my work in Mano Amiga that it’s of­ten the women who reinforce damaging gender-based stereotypes. I’ve seen a mother teach her daughters to endure emotional and verbal abuse from their father for the sake of keeping their family together, or a mother-in-law discourage her young daughter-in-law from going back to college because she should be content with staying at home. One of my roles in She Talks is to ensure that all our flagship programs have a corresponding call-to-action that brings the impact of our work to the grassroots level. In a country that has had two female presidents and where majority of women enjoy a good education and well-paying jobs, we often forget that there are many Filipino women and children who don’t enjoy the same opportunities and are quite vulnerable to abuse because of poverty. My drive for scaling up She Talks is so I could eventually bring our mentorship and leadership programs to more women and children, particularly those living in far-flung areas. — Lynn Pinugu, COO and Finance & Operations

She Talks Asia helps women by giving them a voice to speak about their trials and triumphs in life. It gives women a space to share what they’ve gone through and allows other women to learn how to heal. I think that by sharing stories, we are able to better understand ourselves as well. We become more self-aware as well. We are all mir­rors for each other’s healing journey. My role is called “partner­ships” but I do believe in creating authentic relationships with who we work with. I aspire to build with people on a long-term basis so that we can create change together. Truly connecting the right people to our project creates a powerful energetic force that is felt across different platforms. — Victoria Herrera, Branding and Partnerships

When I first partnered with She Talks Asia, it was because I wanted to get the powerful message of self love and body love out to Filipinas. Upon joining the team, I have real­ized the power of women coming together to help make this world a better place. I also learned so much from my partners from every event we set up and content we put out. I now see our movement going beyond the Philip­pines, even beyond Asia through our content, conferences and grssroots projects. I bring to the table the biggest smile I have and the passion to help heal and teach others through our own healing and learning. I have also been appointed PR head, so all the years of being branded Miss Congeniality is actually paying off! Every relationship matters. — Iza Calzado-Wintle, Public Relations

I take the “power” of having a platform (because of the nature of my job on TV/print) seriously; that it is not some­thing to take lightly or flaunt, it is a great responsibility. Being a part of She Talks Asia with four driven, inspiring women is a big step for me to help develop conversa­tions about women’s issues that we should be talking about more—self love, boundaries, worth, pressure, and so much more! Among the partners, it’s the arena of social media that I can help to bring our messages to more people. — Bianca Gonzalez-Intal, Digital Strategy

To know more about “She Talks Asia” Summit, visit shetalksasia.com