Carlo and Rujunko Talk Unequal Opportunities for Women

“There still exist patriarchal societies today,” so said Rujunko Pugh when asked about the challenges that women face. Rujunko, together with her husband, Carlo Corazza, established the Graziella and Keiko Scholarship to support the higher education of Wedu Rising Stars. Named after their mothers, this scholarship hopes to empower young women to pursue higher education. In Asia where women are not accorded equal opportunities for education as men, the Graziella and Keiko Scholarship is integral in changing this reality for young women in the region.

The emphasis that Carlo and Rujunko’s mothers placed on education inspired the creation of this scholarship. The couple wanted to preserve the legacy of their mothers’ dedication to education. “[Graziella] always pushed us to study, obtain a degree, and develop our skills” said Carlo about his mother. In a similar vein, Rujunko revealed that it was because of her mother, Keiko’s, emphasis on education that all her siblings and herself went on to finish their undergraduate studies.

Graziella, was denied an opportunity to pursue her dream of studying Mathematics. Her father’s sudden death meant that she had to take over the management of the family’s company. Graziella had to put off her goals to enter university and adopt a new role that she was not ready to have. For Keiko, life was hard as a single mother raising three children. Keiko had to do odd jobs in order to get her family through.

It has almost been a few decades but the problem of unequal opportunities for women continues to persist. Carlo and Rujunko pointed out that in today’s society, it is still extremely difficult for a woman to advance and succeed. In many developing countries, the society continues to be male-dominated and upholds patriarchal values. Influenced by cultural norms, these patriarchal expectations boxes women into their role as caretakers of their family. This expectation thus comes into tension with the ambitions of young women to become leaders.

Nonetheless, many young women of today have great ambitions and are unafraid to pursue them. They are the generation that would come to challenge the traditional expectations placed upon women. The increasing representation of female leaders today also serves as an inspiration for young girls who can look up to these female leaders and realize that becoming a leader is entirely possible. This creates hope for young women to aim higher and do better.

Carlo and Rujunko hope that young women would continue persisting amidst the systemic disadvantages. They urge women to challenge the status quo: “if women accept that they don’t have equal rights, they lose everything.” With the Graziella and Keiko Scholarship, the couple hopes to continue empowering young women to become leaders of tomorrow.  

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