A Renewed Sense of Hope and Passion: Jonna’s Story

In the last 9 years, I have with been working with 10ThousandWindows in helping survivors of violence and exploitation by providing economic empowerment services for them to live safe, free and hopeful lives. What I saw was a lot of older women and LGBTQs losing economic opportunities simply because of what they are and for living their true selves. I was interested in participating in the YSEALI Advancing Gender Equality workshop, implemented by Wedu, because I want to be able to learn from other key players who are concerned with the same issues across South East Asia.

At the workshop, I met and interacted with the most passionate individuals who rally for the same cause. I went to learn, connect and network, but I have gotten more than what I expected. Just by being in a room full of vibrant and energetic individuals who not only express their struggles but also hopes about the causes they pursue, gives one a new perspective about the whole work. You just don’t carry with you what was taught technically, but more so, it gives you a renewed passion about the total work on gender equality. That’s what it did for me, that was my greatest takeaway—a renewed sense of hope and passion that I can create a dent of change in my community; that it’s okay to feel tired at some point in pursuing these causes but not to be jaded and feel defeated because others pursued the same initiative and experienced it, too. There was a sense of community and shared experience among participants.

The part where participants were grouped and discussed solutions to a specific problem was very helpful for me. The process where we were grouped with others from other countries, allowed us to intentionally work together on a specific issue, though we have to decide on a collectively agreed upon project to pitch, we had to make sure that we take into account the differing contextual needs presented by other group members from other countries. The collaborative process allowed us to understand more the gender related issues faced by other participants, and participatory come up with a solution that addressed the needs that were expressed.

I went home with a renewed of passion for my work with the most disadvantaged population in the Philippines. I will continue with my projects in lobbying of the rights of women who lost economic opportunities. I went home knowing I am not alone in pursuing these seemingly unmovable systemic problems surrounding gender equality. It gave a new sense of hope; a new set of networks to partner with; and new potential resource to tap.


About the Writer

Jonna is one of the participants from the Philippines at the YSEALI Generation Workshop: Advancing Gender Equality held in Brunei 7 – 11 October 2019. 

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