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Modern-day Filipinas: Challenging inequality, becoming trailblazers

On March 8, 2021, women across the globe will celebrate International Women’s Day, which highlights the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also serves as a call to action to raise awareness of and continue the developments in fostering equality for women. 

Since its first gathering in 1911, International Women’s Day has been supported by millions across the world. And being celebrated well over a century, this event has put the spotlight on women and their ability to do anything as long as they put their minds to it. 

In the Philippines, countless women have already risen to the occasion and achieved great success by following their dreams no matter what gender stereotypes society has put in place. As a result, they’ve created history, as well as put the spotlight on women and what they can achieve. 

Here are five modern-day Filipinas, whose achievements are worth celebrating: 

Elda Rotor, Vice President and publisher at Penguin Classics

Based in London, England, Penguin Classics publishes classic works of literature in various languages including English, Spanish, and Portuguese among others. 

Sitting at one of the highest positions in the company and securing the quality of the books the company publishes is Elda Rotor. 

Rotor holds the position of vice president and publisher at Penguin Classics, allowing her to commission literary material from renowned and upcoming authors. She started as an editorial director for the company in 2006. 

She is also the woman behind the release and promotion of translations of Philippine literary classics such as Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and Filipino poet Jose Garcia Villa’s poetry collection titled Doveglion.

Hidilyn Diaz, Olympic weightlifting silver medalist 

In the world of sports, women from all across the world have already made a name for themselves in their particular fields. Some of these women would even go on to hold world record titles because of their inspiring performances. 

For instance, the Philippines ended its 20-year Olympic medal drought, thanks to the talent and grit of Hidilyn Diaz, who brought home a silver medal when she competed in the women’s 53-kg weightlifting category at the 2016 Rio Olympics held in Brazil. 

She has been competing in the summer games since 2008 and is determined to achieve her goal of winning a gold medal in the Olympics. 

Diaz’s victory was a first for Filipino female athletes as she put the spotlight on them and what they’re capable of achieving. 

Gini Santos, supervising animator at Disney-Pixar 

Disney-Pixar has released various family movies such as Up, Ratatouille, Monster’s Inc., and more. Each movie is carefully planned by various teams assigned to create and secure the story and animation quality that the audience knows and loves. 

The animation team has one of the most important jobs in production. They are the ones tasked to make sure that every characteristic, movement, and detail of the characters are properly animated to bring them to life. 

One of the many animators working for Disney-Pixar is a Filipina named Gini Santos. But she’s not just an animator; Santos is Pixar’s first female supervising animator.  In the 20 years that she’s worked for Disney-Pixar, Santos has toiled on many projects to animate characters and bring the magic of Disney to screens across the globe. 

Santos pays attention to emotions and physics when creating her characters and even thinks about small nuances to give them personality. 

Andreia Carrillo, astrophysicist 

Many have dreamed of exploring or studying space at a young age. This is because space has a lot of elements that people are yet to fully understand. And with its massive size, researchers and astronauts still have a lot of areas to cover before they can uncover all the secrets of the universe. 

One Filipina who wanted to discover a part of the vast knowledge of space is Andreia Carrillo. Ultimately, Carillo has a lifelong goal of connecting Filipino astronomers to their peers around the world. 

Hailing from Baliuag, Bulacan, Carrillo moved to the United States where she earned an undergraduate degree in astronomy, astrophysics, and interdisciplinary physics at the University of Michigan. While there, Andreia researched a dwarf galaxy called dw1335-29.

Carrillo is currently on the way towards earning her Ph.D. from the University of Texas so she can further unlock the secrets of the stars. 

Aisa Mijeno, inventor of SALt Lamps

There are remote areas where several resources aren’t readily available for residents in such communities. As a result, they would have to resort to using available commodities that they have access to. But fortunately, there are those who come up with innovative ideas to improve the existing living conditions of residents in such far-flung areas. 

One is Aisa Mijeno. After an immersion trip in Kalinga, Mijeno was inspired to create SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) Lamp which can be used to replace kerosene lamps. 

Mijeno’s design is more economical and safer compared to the kerosene lamps because it uses salt as a power source. 

It wasn’t an easy feat for Mijeno as she faced failure in her initial designs. But through her perseverance and overall desire to help improve the lives of people in remote communities, Mijeno eventually managed to produce this smart innovation. 

How you can #ChooseToChallenge 

These Filipinas aren’t the only women who chose to challenge inequality and break barriers by excelling in their chosen fields. Many others in our communities are making themselves known for their achievements, no matter how big or small they might be. 

For this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day, a movement called #ChooseToChallenge has been started where women raise their hands high to show that they’re part of this movement and commit themselves to the challenge of calling out inequality. 

By doing so, women from across the globe can put a stop to gender bias and inequality by holding them, thus creating a more inclusive world. 

Although a great number of women have already solidified their position in their chosen fields, whether it’s politics, athletics, literature, or others, there are still those who need to battle inequality from society. 

The #ChooseToChallenge movement in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 is just another step towards creating a society that not only celebrates women’s achievements, but also steers clear of gender bias and inequality to create equal opportunities and promote inclusivity.

Topics: International Women’s Day , #ChooseToChallenge , Aisa Mijeno , Andreia Carrillo , Gini Santos , Hidilyn Diaz , Elda Rotor
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