Despite growing up poor in the Philippines, I felt empowered to succeed because of the mentors and role models I had when I was really young. I’ve since attended an Ivy League institution, worked on Wall Street and belong to influential networks of activists and leaders that are creating change. I owe this to the support I received from my family, institutional support from the schools, and my network of friends that encouraged me to keep going.
I wanted to replicate and spread this type of empowerment to women and girls across the world. It was with this goal that I created Womensphere.
How does Womensphere promote gender parity?
Within Womensphere we have a view that everyone can be a leader, an innovator, an entrepreneur, and that you don’t have to go to an Ivy League institution to achieve this. This is why it is important to democratize access to knowledge. We need to take the best practices coming from Ivy League institutions, companies, governments and communities and disseminate this information.
Womensphere is building a global network of incubators designed to empower women and girls to create the future. Each incubator offers five things to help develop women and girls holistically: ecosystem, community, connections with inspiring role models, training and education, and recognition and awards.
How is Womensphere able to reach women and girls around the world?
Across the globe, there are over 1.5 billion internet users that are women and girls. This is why it is important for our network to also have a digital component and leverage the internet. This allows us to deliver the same type of training and education that we offer live through the communities we are building.
How do you reach women in rural communities without internet?
We do this through local partnerships since rural communities do not always have reliable internet connection. For example, through a partnership with the Philippines senator Bam Aquino, a fellow Young Global Leader, we are able to reach women in rural areas of the Philippines through a network of centers he has built.
What makes Womensphere different?
One of the things that makes us different from other initiatives focused on women is that we take an ecosystem and community approach. For a program to succeed, it needs to be integrated – through partnerships – into local communities and within institutions where women are learning and working. This is why the ecosystem and community approach is vital for our success and for the success of the women and girls who enter the program.
The second way we are different is that we are focused on investing in the success and progress of women across the pipeline. This means that we have a range of programs that focus on women who are first-time entrepreneurs or starting college, to women who are in the middle of their careers and need help progressing to next level of leadership.
How can Womensphere create a better future?
We want to ensure that women and girls around the world, regardless of their background, have access to mentors and institutions that support their growth and development as leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Our goal is to surround them with people that will encourage them to reach their dreams.
This is the most important investment we can be making as a society: unleashing the full potential of half the world’s population.