Last March 8, the world celebrated International Women’s Day in solidarity with women across the globe. It’s when people commemorate women’s milestones and achievements in various fields for years, despite struggling with sexism in a patriarchal society.
While Women’s Day often extends throughout March, the challenges women face occur daily. Embracing equity and equality is a firm message women and allies have advocated continuously for decades.
In celebration of Women’s Month and highlighting that this movement goes beyond a day or month, Coca-Cola Philippines held a panel discussion on “Embracing Equity: Stories of Championing Every One” at Bonifacio Global City last March 16, 2023.
With the global theme of #EmbracingEquity, coinciding with International Women’s Day 2023, the forum highlighted engaging stories and insights of female trailblazers across various areas and fields. They discussed why “equal opportunities are no longer enough” and the importance of having supportive environments that becomes an avenue for everyone regardless of their background or gender.
As part of the celebration of Women’s Month, the program also celebrated the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification of the Philippine Women’s National Team, the first Filipino team to compete at the WWC 2023.
During the first panel discussion, Women’s National Team goalkeeper Inna Palacios, Philippine Football Federation’s Grassroots Development Head Dave Javellana, news anchor, TV host, and athlete Gretchen Ho, and sociologist and co-founder of Queer Safe Spaces PH Tina Boado shared their stories in sports about the challenges that female athletes face as well as the importance of having support for these athletes to inspire the youth.
Palacios, who has since become a beacon of women empowerment, knows the difficulties in fighting for a place in the male-dominated sports industry. Yet, besides inspiring young women to pursue their athletic dreams, Palacios has a more radical view of equity and equality.
The Filipinas’ goalkeeper hopes to see a gender-less approach in sports to completely diminish the differences and prejudice between males and females in the industry to achieve equality and equal opportunity.
In the meantime, being a firm believer of the statement “no one is free until we are all free,’’ sociologist and Boado shared that “we are in an inclusive country, and if there’s gender equity in the country, it is important to look at it from the lengths of intersectionality.”
In the second panel discussion, actress, writer, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate Mela Habijan, as well as Coca-Cola Philippines Franchise Director Jonah de Lumen-Pernia, with filmmaker, producer, and podcaster Antoinette Jadaone, and Boado covered perspectives on the state of gender equity and inclusivity as well as the creation of supportive environments.
As she acknowledged how the challenges she faced were meant for her to grow and inspire others, actress, writer, and LGBTQIA+ rights advocate Habijan defined what womanhood is for her.
“Womanhood for me is about championing sensitivity, championing the ability to empathize with another person’s heart, womanhood for me is simply getting to know who I am from the core.”
On the other hand, being in the film industry, filmmaker, producer, and podcaster Jadaone expressed how the efforts of early advocates and allies allowed others to establish themselves in the industry. However, the responsibility of being the guardians for future generations now falls on their shoulders.
“Lahat sila binuksan yung pinto para sa aming mga babaeng direktor, kaya nung pumapasok na kami sa industriya, naka-pave na yung way, sila na yung nag bungkal, lumalakad nalang kami, ” she said. “Ang importante kaming mga babaeng direktor or in the industry kahit hindi babae, yung pinto na dinaanan namin, binubuksan pa namin sya. Pati bintana kailangan buksan, kailangan na igguard namin siya na bukas ito hindi namin hahayaan na sumarado.”
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to our values as a company as they are necessary to our growth, and it is how we achieve our purpose to refresh the world and make a difference,” said Tony del Rosario, President, Coca-Cola Philippines and Vice President for East Franchise Operations of Coca-Cola ASEAN and South Pacific.
“This long-standing commitment is also what drives us at Coca-Cola Philippines to support women breaking new grounds and to join the efforts of other like-minded organizations in the country in embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion,” he added.
As of this year, Coca-Cola Philippines has already achieved its goal of 50-50 gender parity across all levels of management. An increasing number of women have also taken on previously male-dominated positions and departments in its manufacturing plants, with 44 percent of its bottling plants led by women.
The company also has a robust sponsorship program for women executives to climb the career ladder. Coca-Cola Philippines aims to continue its commitment to advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the company and the community. The company has a comprehensive global strategy, including three long-term ambitions—a diverse workforce to mirror the markets, equity for all people, celebrating uniqueness, and creating an inclusive environment.
To learn more about the efforts of Coca-Cola Philippines to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, visit www.coca-cola.com.ph/news/making-each-day-more-refreshing-than-the-last.