The month of March doesn't just signify the closing of the business year's first quarter, graduation for students in different levels of education, or the start of the (unbearably hot) summer season. Each year, two globally recognized celebrations honor all females and put the spotlight on gender-related topics and initiatives across categories: International Women's Day is held every March 8, while all 31 days of March is also reserved for International Women's Month.
[related|post]The Philippines has come a long way in terms of female empowerment. We have had two Madame Presidents plus numerous women serving in government, countless lady executives in higher management in many companies and industries, and public and private programs zeroing in on female-oriented needs covering multiple social sectors. As of late 2011, our country placed eighth on the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Global Gender Gap rankings, an improved ranking compared to previous years. But that doesn't mean everything has already been addressed! Improvements can still be made; saying that a lot of work remains for gender equality, laws, human rights, health, education, employment/business opportunities, ownership, and status only scratches the surface.
In line with the month-long celebration of women, we at Entrepreneur Philippines provide our female readers with a quick run-through of the business organizations led and run by women — and strive to level the playing field. We also include several non-profit organizations that have a nationwide reach and run projects that educate, help, and push women from various regions and backgrounds to put up their own businesses.
The Women's Business Council of the Philippines
Budding, new and established female entrepreneurs should take a look at the Women's Business Council of the Philippines (WBCP), made up of female business owners and high-profile decision-makers coming from a wide variety of industries. The 15-year-old WBCP's goals are to eradicate the issues that women in all positions encounter at work, provide valuable input for government agencies regarding “technology development, training, and access to markets and finance”, and promote and form partnerships with women-owned and -helmed enterprises.
The WBCP's recent events include the second part of the Women to Women (W2W) Mentoring Conference (held last November at the Philippine Trade Training Center or PTTC). For more information, go to the WBCP's website or follow the Council's Twitter account.
Zonta International District 17
Zonta International District 17 (a.k.a. Zonta Philippines) is made up of different Zonta areas/clubs within the Philippines and clubs in other Asian countries, and is part of a global organization that is run by women of influence and aims to “advance the status of women”. Their work for status advancement includes the “legal, political, economic and professional” realms. Zonta District 17 has put into motion projects that encourage and foster female entrepreneurship (such as its Microfinance Project, in partnership with Saint Michael's College of Laguna) and the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship (in line with Zonta International). The District 17 website will give you additional details on both the organization and past/upcoming events.