Vice President Leni Robredo’s women empowerment programs are centered on economic empowerment because she sees this as a critical component of women’s ability to stand for themselves, especially in an abusive relationship.
The vice president was the guest of the Between Us Queens podcast by Pia Wurtzbach, Carla Lizardo, and Bianca Guidotti on the topic, “Raising Strong Women.”
“Most of our programs on women empowerment are really centered on economic empowerment. Kasi para sa akin, walang saysay iyong tuturuan mo sila about gender equality—alam mo iyon, iyong mga workshop workshop—kung hindi sila economically independent (Because for me, there is no point to teach them about gender equality—those workshop workshop—if they are not economically independent,” she said.
“If they are not earning, napakababa ng (they have very low) self-esteem. Kasi iyong kultura natin (Because our culture) does not give any value to house work, does not give any value to taking care of children at home. Iyong mga (Those) stay-at-home moms are looked down upon by society,” Robredo added.
Before she joined Congress in 2013, the vice president was a practicing lawyer handling cases of abused wives.
She recalled that at the heat of the moment, the wives will file a case against their husbands. But on the day of the hearing, they would be a no-show, with Robredo sometimes seeing the same couples at a local mall being all sweet to each other.
Robredo was quick to clarify that she doesn’t blame these victims.
“You can’t blame (them). Una (First), it’s cultural. Number [two], wala nang self-esteem (there’s no self-esteem), eh. Most battered wives feel that, alam mo iyon (you know), dependent sila (they are dependent) on the husband,” Robredo said.
When she asked herself how to empower women, she cannot rely on gender equality alone.
“Para sa akin (For me), you have to teach them that through their gut, eh. Ano ba iyong (What is the) gut issue? Iyong (The) gut issue for them is will they be able to fend for themselves? Will they be able to fend for their children? Kapag may violence na kinommit sa kaniya (committed against her, she would have the capacity to break free),” she stressed.
Women must recognize that “there is a glass ceiling we must shatter.”