Making change work for women

By Benel P. Lagua Benel P. Lagua

As another women’s month celebration ends in our country, let me share with you my heartfelt remarks in Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in support of empowering women.

“This is not the first time I am addressing an all-women assembly. I recall a few years ago, I spoke before a group of women entrepreneurs in an event organized by the Women’s Business Council to introduce our unique lending program for women, the ILAW or Inclusive Lending for Aspiring Women. As the only male in the forum, I was referred to at that time as an honorary woman.

What makes a man more a man than another man? Sounds like a tongue twister but trust me, this is a very valid point to ponder this women’s month. There are six memes from a blog that defines a macho man – hindi nagcoconditioner, walang driver na guwapo, hindi sumasali sa bikini contest, nakabackpack, hindi nagdadiet at hanggang bewang lang ang tuwalya. Being a man is beyond machismo. A real man views and regards women the way they should, and it says more a lot about one’s character as a man.

How do we describe women? Some quotes say, “A quiet man is a thinking man, a quiet woman is usually mad.” Tama di ba? Ang babae likas na masayahin at makwento e. Kaya kapag tumahimik, matakot ka na, and run for your lives. “A jealous woman does better research than FBI.” Sabi nga nila ang mga babae laging tama ang hinala at maraming paraan para makakuha ng impormasyon at makumpirma ito.“ When a woman says ‘what??? It’s not because she didn’t hear you, she’s giving you a chance to change what you said.” This explains why the wife is always the commander-in-chief at home.

I’m sure most of you have heard that “behind every man’s success is a woman.”But have you heard that “behind every angry woman stands a man who has absolutely no idea what he did wrong?”But the best quote is this: “Behind every great man stands no woman. There is no greater man than the man who can acknowledge the woman standing next right to him.” Times have changed and through the years, women in various fields of endeavors left living proof that a woman is not only man’s complement. Rather she is his equal, a partner, a friend, a wife, a daughter, a mother and a jack of all trades at times. My friend once told me, I don’t need google, I have a wife.

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, who are the acknowledged leaders as of this time? Two queens – Queen Cersei of King’s Landing and Queen Danaerys, the mother of dragons. In real life as in fiction, the women dominate our world.
Women now play a more important role in shaping government and industry. The world now is a stage shared with the empowered opposite sex – their opinions, strengths, quirks – all count in many respects. Let me remind you in DBP alone, almost 60% of our employees are female and in management, women key officers outnumber the males. It simply shows how empowered women is in this bank and in this country.

Yet we cannot dismiss the fact that violence against women is still out there. Kaya shout out sa mga kalalakihang hindi nanakit o nangmamaliit sa mga kababaihan kundi iginagalang at minamahal sila. Events such as this is a reminder, a call to action that one of the most important point to ponder on women’s month is to ensure their liberation from all sorts of abuse.

It is time to work toward synergy. Both men and women can make change work aligned with the 2017-2022 National Women’s Month Celebration theme. Today’s forum is the highlight of our month-long celebration for women as equal “contributors and claimholders of development”, capable drivers of positive change. I hope that we – all of us, women and men of DBP present here today – will value this occasion that brings us face to face with a convincing proof of the empowerment of women.

Kaya sa mga kabaro ko, tanggapin na natin. Ang tunay na lalaki, may pusong fanboy para sa ating mga natatanging kababaihan.”
I purposely peppered this remark with jokes, millennial terms and local language to reach out to the young. But it is delivered with utmost attention, sincerity and seriousness. We don’t celebrate the women in our lives for a month. It must be our way of life.

(Benel D. Lagua is Executive Vice President at the Development Bank of the Philippines. He is an active FINEX member and a long time advocate of risk-based lending for SMEs. The views expressed herein are his own and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of his office as well as FINEX.)