05 Dec Advocating Gender Equality: Maria Ana’s Story
I am Maria Ana, one of the delegates from the Philippines in the recently held YSEALI Generation Workshop: Advancing Gender Equality. As a law student, I have always been passionate on the advocacy of gender equality. I am aware that gender equality is one of the strongest campaigns now worldwide. However, since my advocacy has always been situated in the Philippines, I did not have any first-hand knowledge of the struggles of women and LGBT members in other countries.
However, through this workshop implemented by Wedu, I was given a chance to discover the struggles and work of gender advocates from different ASEAN countries, including Timor Leste. I enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories, whether it is from their personal experience of gender discrimination or something they encountered from their projects and advocacies. It affirmed my belief that since equality among genders is rooted from our inherent human rights, then it is an advocacy that must be carried across ages, cultures and nationalities. The struggle for gender equality does not belong to any select group only because the right of every person to be recognized for who s/he truly is belongs to everyone.
My favorite part of the workshop is creating a project about gender-based violence and having a mentor who guided us. Our team was composed of gender advocates from the Philippines, Laos, and Thailand. As we developed the project, our team bonded and learned a lot from each other. Our mentor was Mr. Joshua Teh, a lawyer that has a strong background on gender-based violence. His inputs were extremely valuable as we developed our project proposal.
In the end, we have come up with the project entitled: 16 Days, 16 Stories. And we won 4th place in the Small Grants Competition! With the support given to us by the YSEALI and Wedu, we aim to create safe spaces for the youth to discuss and defend themselves from gender-based violence. We will also design an exhibit during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 8) that will feature the stories of survivors across our countries. We are now starting to implement our project and I am excited to share with everyone in the coming weeks how it turned out.
I am extremely grateful to YSEALI and Wedu because this project has empowered many young ASEAN leaders to become gender advocates. As we go back in our respective countries, we are now on the mission to multiply that effect a hundred-fold as we implement our projects.
About the Writer
Maria Ana is one of the participants from the Philippines at the YSEALI Generation Workshop: Advancing Gender Equality held in Brunei 7 – 11 October 2019.