Empowering Women thru ICTS and the Internet

Theme: Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic, and Social Development

ICTs and the Internet

We are living in a fast-paced digital era where big data are being made available on the internet and technologies being developed to improve the quality of life. ICTs have provided people channels for further or in-depth learning, connecting people, leveraging management efforts, and self-expression (to some extent, asserting rights and promoting services and businesses).

I remember back then when I told myself “Why go to school when everything you need to know is on the Internet! Hey, Google and YouTube University!” However, when I started teaching at the university and experienced the digital divide, I recognized the need to bridge the gap aside from the formal instruction. At some point, I decided to step out of the University (seeing that the education system then was not a fit to many) and explored freelancing with the advocacy of promoting digital literacy.

Along the way, I am thankful to have engaged with Palaweno ICT Association, Inc (PICTA), Southern Palawan College, Inc (SPCI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Information and Communications Technology) DICT and Rotaract in pursuit of advocacy.

Why Empower Women?

In Puerto Princesa and Palawan, we have high statistics of young mothers. We have mothers who have stopped schooling and left their jobs (hopefully, for a while) to attend to their children. (By the way, I thank the young mothers who experienced unwanted pregnancies and still chose to nurture them.) Now, most of these women struggle to get back on their feet and catch up.

I would want to zero-in on Self-confidence and Trust.

I have learned from Living Waters that it’s the mother who has the fundamental role of attending to her child, instilling trust and confidence during the early years until the child reaches thirteen (13). Self-trust means that you believe enough in yourself to overcome struggles. Self-confidence is being secured with yourself and your capabilities.

Take the case of Jelyn, a full-time mother, and one of the trainees of the recently concluded DigitalJobsPH training who expressed her struggle then, “I do not know how to get off the daily routine of sending my child to school and picking him up after school. I have skills, but how do I apply them? (Di ko alam kung paano aalis sa daily routine… hatid-sundo ng bata..may skills naman ako… pero paano ko magagamit?)

Sadly, some have downgraded their dreams that would fit their lifestyle instead of fitting their lifestyle into bigger dreams. It would be a vicious cycle if these women will shrink down and be contented with small dreams and pass these onto the next generations.

I once had a conversation with a kid, a girl, with whom I was teaching Math. ” We are poor. I will just marry when I reach 20 (years of age). (Mahirap lang kami. Mag-aasawa na lang ako pag nag-20 na.)”

We wouldn’t want to discount our women.

How to Empower Women?

We have women who easily grab opportunities, banking on the thought “I can do that! I will use that technology!” Yes, the self-trust and confidence seem to be intact. To them, we can simply present updates and invite time to take part in ICT activities. 

I hope everyone joins and grabs the opportunity! 

(Sana all mag-join at i-grab yung opportunity!)

To some, they have to be felt needed, heard, or wanted. But in some cases, women seem to seek a support group. Yes, with other women, too. 

(toilet cliché)

They are more likely to be more empowered when they encounter another woman who shares the same experiences or sentiments and has managed to thrive and persevere through the struggles.

Puerto Princesa and Palawan Stakeholders and Government Initiatives

Since I came to Palawan in 2009, ICT stakeholders in Puerto Princesa and Palawan have come up with project initiatives and presented ICT possibilities and opportunities.

While I have been speaking for women, allow me to recognize Mr. Ranjit Montablan, our former Executive Director in PICTA (established in 2012), who helped paved the way for ICT here in Palawan.

Thankfully, more LGUs and NGOs have extended their services and support which we are enjoying right now. And yay, our infrastructures are on the way!

Thank you to DICT who has installed a Point-Of-Presence station here in Puerto Princesa. (They have installed in just two provinces!) Thank you for opening your office doors, making it (space, computer access, and free wifi) available for use. And for having conducted Empowering RISTT and Tech4Ed training. (These are good support for Freelancers!)

How do we make it sustainable?

Having recently attended meetings and events, allow me to share some takeaways and updates from the ICT community:

  • PICTA will move towards Talent Development next year cultivating the culture of intentional learning.
  • While people are capable and equally have potential, PICTA will support and invest more in those who are intentional to learn more and who would consequently echo the training to others to leverage efforts.
  • DICT signifies nurturing the culture of collaboration among partners, trainees, and trainers.
  • Sitel has opened its training rooms to accommodate Palawenos who are willing to enhance their proficiency in English.
  • Our stakeholders are within reach, they also have Facebook Pages which you can check for updates.

Additional tips:

  • Take part in the activities.
  • Ask if you must!
  • Invest in developing skills.
  • Be intentional.
  • We have free training, all you have to do is to avail of it.
  • Suppose you didn’t make the list yet, try again in the next schedule.
  • Share your experience. Pay it forward.

Gender Divide

Surprisingly, while there have been many mentions of the gender divide, I am fortunate to have not experienced it here. Especially, now that we celebrate more women leaders in ICT.

May I acknowledge some of the inspiring ladies I know:

  • From PICTA, we have Ms. Joy Delos Trinos as President and Ms. Haidee Enriquez as Chairman.
  • From Palawan International Technology Business Incubator, Ms. Jackie Isip, Ms. Mian Maigue, and Ms. Mika Saludsod who took care of Palawan Startups.
  • From DICT, Ms. Apol, Ms. Joy, Engr Carmela, and Director Cheryl, and Ms. Janette Toral, the Trainer of Trainers.
  • From Connected Women, Ms. Karen, Ms. Rita, Ms. Eunice, and Ms. Meredith.
  • From the Academe, Ma’am Kristine Joy Martinez our Department Chairperson. And to my former co-teachers who are with me today Ma’am Maylene, Ma’am Rhea, and Ma’am Rachael.

It warms my heart also to see my former students who have also become my colleagues. I enjoy it more when I learn from the young.

As for my support system, I thank my co-enablers from DigitAlly Jade, DJs Daisy and Jazz, for paying forward, conducting free training and workshops, and facilitating RISTT’s in Puerto Princesa and Brookes Point.

Empowered women

I am fortunate to have witnessed the graduation ceremony of the recently concluded Rural Impact Sourcing Technical Training on Virtual Assistance facilitated by Daisy Abela.

It was supposedly for women, but several gentlemen have expressed their intent to join. It was a warm mix of thirteen ladies and five men.

They are survivors. The trainees were able to get through tasks by helping each other. They also had support from Sir Pros, Sir Ric, and Ms. Apol. Out of 18, three emerged as medalists. One of which is Jelyn, who further expressed her gratitude to DICT and fellow trainees.

And yes, their Trainer Daisy charged them with “Pay It Forward”

You may expect such fostering environments here in Puerto Princesa and Palawan.

I am!

I am Mikki Davila.

… One-third of DigitAlly Jade

… Part-time University IT Instructor

… Programmer and System Developer

… Head of the Multimedia and Tech Ministry of LOJ-Palawan

… Senior Events Coordinator of Celebracion Weddings and Events

… Member of the Board of Trustees, Palaweno ICT Association, Inc.

Am I empowered? Yes, I am!

(Wrapping up)

We wouldn’t want to discount our women. We wouldn’t want to discount our men and their efforts also. Gentlemen, thank you for paving the way and recognizing our abilities. We thank you for your encouragement and support.

May I invite everyone to please stand?

We, men and women of Puerto Princesa of Palawan need to help one another in this pursuit.

Pat the back of the person on your left and say “I have your back”.

Tap the shoulder of the person on your right “Thank you for being here.”

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