UNLOCKING the secrets of the plight of women including mothers in the business world is an eye-opener.
It is a realization that women indeed can be leaders in the economy of this land once given the chance.
Recently in Marawi City, through the initiative of the Al Mujadillah Development Foundation, Inc. (AMDF) in collaboration with OXFAM, they have organized a business Expo and Bazaar at the Mindanao State University Campus showcasing women leading the business sectors.
Displaying the capabilities and products of businesswomen became the core of the expo — from health and beauty products to textile and RTWs; and from fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade pastries and spices.
Aside from the Bazaar where unique products were sold and bought by the constituents, the program helped women to understand the importance of buy-and-sell business, small-scale capital, and even other livelihood programs that both government and allied agencies have to offer.
The women were educated by the stakeholders of the government such as the Department of Trade and Industry of the province, the City Bureau of Fisheries, Department of Agriculture and many others.
It was interesting to know that Meranaw women can be that energetic and inspiring as they sensibly show their ability, without hesitations, in the field of business.
These women may not be as rich and famous as Ginni Rometty of IBM and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook but definitely, with no doubts, they are as hardworking as the popular women leaders in the business world today.
Hard work is always inspired by their motivations.
As what one mother answered when asked about her reasons in joining the expo, she said, “Di ta di makasalak dagang ka an kalokalo pkaumani so peki lino o pamilya mi (We sometimes have to sell so we can have more food for our families).”
It was inspiring but at the same time moving because older women were there to sell their few garden-fresh vegetables.
I can’t help but be emotionally moved because of their persistence to be productive and significant at their age.
Just like the women I always see in the market every time I go on a weekend market trip at Padian (our market place).
Almost all of the stalls from the first to the last street, from the dry to wet market, women dominate these areas.
They are at the frontlines at the same time I would assume the mothers and the wives in their homes.
Nonetheless, they have proven that women from all ages can indeed be part of making and shaping the economy of a community.
Actually, Muslim Meranaw women are inspired by the ideals of Muslim women leaders.
In as far as history is concerned, even Khadijah (RA), the first wife of the prophet (pbuh) was then a merchant or trader.
She was an exemplar of an empowered woman in her time.
Personally, I admire Meranaw women who can be independent enough in trade and industry. They are patient yet flexible enough to see the chance to survive in the business world.
Indeed, this world where power and ideology collide, varied viewpoints regarding women in the business world may still be undeniably debatable.
Arguably, Muslim women can always become the lead change movers in a society–be it in the business world or in any field of endeavor.
(Professor Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)