Being a woman in a leadership position “paved the way for a lot of vicious and malicious attacks” hurled against her, but Vice President Leni Robredo makes sure these will not deter her from proving that “women leaders get things moving in times of crisis.”
In a message for the Pangasinan State University, Lingayen Campus’ “Webinar on Claiming Women’s Space Leadership” to commemorate Women’s Month, Robredo used her example as a government official, human rights lawyer, and “my husband’s widow” to prove her mettle and break barriers for other women.
“Some said I was better off at home because I was a woman. I admit for someone who has become quietly doing her work for so long, mostly behind scenes as human rights lawyer has not been an easy battle,” she said.
“But we can’t let these whispers hold us back. I always tell my staff that if we are truly passionate about serving our people we can’t allow detractors to discourage us from doing our share in the enormous task of nation-building. We can’t allow the lies to pull us away from the path of authentic service,” Robredo added.
Robredo, who is the highest ranking woman in government, told her audience that “women are made for times like these.”
“We are meant to survive even during the most difficult times,” she said, adding that women leaders all over the world are “redefining what’s strong and competent leadership means” by taking the lead in the COVID-19 crisis.
Women leaders in New Zealand (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern), Taiwan (President Tsai Ing-wen), and Germany (Chancellor Angela Merkel) were recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to have the most humane, compassionate, and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Robredo reminded the audience that they don’t have to look far to prove that women leaders are getting things done during crisis.
In the Philippine community, she acknowledged that “women leaders are rising to the occasion finding ways around obstacles and quickly adapting to the crisis.”
These days, the vice president said that “it is easy to equate being a strong leader with brashness and aggression, with a loud domineering style of leadership that more often than not disempowers and frightens others into silence and relies on brute force and macho posturing.”
However, she believes that being a strong leader “means nurturing and empowering others to become the best version of themselves.”
Women will always meet challenges and obstacles when they are trying to lead, Robredo said, adding that prejudices, cultural dictates, and “glass ceiling” still exist.
“We must go where we are needed and find spaces where our skills and knowledge can have the most impact. These extraordinary times ask us to find our courage and resolve and face the challenges head-on. We must transform the narrative and keep repeating this truth that women can achieve whatever we set our minds to,” she stressed.
“Kaya sige lang, tuloy lang, laban lang (So, go for it, continue what you’re doing, fight). Continue challenging the way things are. Huwag matakot (Don’t be afraid). Do what can be done here and now. Be brave in speaking up and standing up for others.”
The lady official has been on the receiving end of President Duterte’s sexist and misogynistic comments since she resigned from the Cabinet for criticizing the administration’s war on drugs.