LET me share with you excerpts of a speech I delivered yesterday at Camp John Hay on the empowerment of women:

March has been declared National Women’s Month.

What month is National Men’s Month? (None)

Have women been empowered so much in the Philippines that men can’t even have their own national month?

Are we here to celebrate women’s empowerment? Or are we here to seek further empowerment for women? Will further empowerment be at the expense of the men?

Two scores and 14 years ago, in August of 1963, Martin Luther King delivered a great and historic speech that became known as the “I have a dream” speech. In it, he repeatedly shared his dream for equality between blacks and whites in America. The constitution provided for zero discrimination against any person due to one’s color. But it was not so in practice. It took a concerted effort and great leadership to bring about change.

Do we still need to dream for women to be empowered? Or should men dream to recover lost ground?

In the Philippines, we have the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004, and the Magna Carta for Women adopted in 2009.

As with all laws, the challenge is how to effectively implement them. These laws have definitely helped women gain a level playing field.

Women have gone a long way. In fact, the Philippines has landed in the list of top 10 countries in the world in terms of gender equality.

In the field of justice, we have a female Chief Justice. And she is under attack. Why?

I had a court case several years ago, and it went thru 4 female judges and 1 male judge. That’s a 4:1 ratio, in favor of women.

In the field of politics, we are the first Asian country to have a lady, Cory Aquino, hold the presidency. She was followed by another woman, Gloria Arroyo. Not even America ever had a woman president.

In the field of business, the chairman of the biggest Phil. bank is Tessie Sy Coson, another female.

Even in the military, we have lady PMAers graduate at the top of their classes.

In the fields of medicine, engineering, architecture, interior design, research, education, arts, etc., women are at the forefront and stand their ground.

Was it legislated for women to lead?

I believe women are in leadership positions, and are successful because of three things which have earned them respect:

1.Competence – They study. They prepare themselves. They work hard in building their powerhouse of knowledge.

2.Character - They exhibit patience, attention to details, diligence, gentleness, and self-control. Are they perfect? Of course not. For some, their weakness is gossiping, a cause of many relationship and work-affected issues.

3.Credentials – They are persistent and persevering in building a good resume.

Positions of leadership are not legislated, nor are they granted. They are generally earned.

Women also built trust among their peers, subordinates and superiors thru:

1.Caring attitude – Compassion is one trait that helps them.

2.Communication skills – Command of the spoken and written word helps them build trust.

Of course, one setback for some women is that they change their minds easily. A lack of consistency in rules and execution does negatively affect trust.

My Dearest Men and Women in the Workplace,

When we started McDonald’s Baguio 27 years ago, the majority of our managers and staff were males. I would say 75% to 85% were males. We would rarely see a female staff working in the kitchen. We would not even think of having women in the grill and buns section, or in the chicken station. Today, I enter our kitchens, and the women in the kitchen easily outnumber the men. Sometimes, we have an all-female kitchen team on shift.

Our operations consultants are both females. Out of 9 restaurant managers, 4 are females. For our assistant managers, 54 % are women.

A similar situation is true at Veniz and Sunshine, the female managers and staff outnumber the men.

All five of our accountants and all our administrative assistants are also women.

Women empowerment? Need I say more?

Let us celebrate National Women’s Month and salute our women who have come a long way.

May women continue to be role models in the home, in the workplace, and in the society.

Proverbs 11:16 “A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth.”