Gone are the days when women spent most of their time fanning themselves on the azotea and were expected to sit back and let the men do the work—and make decisions—for them. Even if society used to label women as “inferior” for decades, that didn’t stop them from taking the reins and breaking gender norms. In 1936, the first woman—a Filipina—was admitted in Harvard Medical School: Dr. Fe del Mundo. Her unflinching study of infectious diseases like dengue and polio in the country made her the first Filipina to be named a National Scientist. In 1998, Dr. Angelita Castro became the first female missions operations manager in NASA, where she ensured the safety and cooperation of many teams.
Times continue to change for the better as society becomes more gender-equal, allowing women to also show and live out the strength of their bodies. Athletes Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, and Janet Belarmino reached the top of the world when they successfully scaled Mount Everest in 2007. Their team name? Kaya ng Pinay.
The next time someone tells you that you can’t do something because “you’re a girl” or that’s “not the norm,” do it anyway. In the modern world you’re living in, here are some other things that you can and should be able to do these big things:
1. Asking for equal pay
You’re at the top of your company and have broken the glass ceiling. But before you can celebrate, you realize that you’re not making as much as the men at the same level. According to the UN, women around the world roughly make 77 cents for every dollar that men make—that’s 23 percent less than what men make for the same work. Don't be afraid to demand fair and just compensation for the hours you clock in, and be part of the solution in addressing the gender pay gap and inequality in the workplace. Just because you’ve made it through the glass ceiling doesn't mean your work is done. Encourage other women to be more forward and to fight for what they deserve so they can have their own breakthrough, too.
2. Making the first move
You meet someone and you exchange numbers. Don’t agonize for hours when you don’t receive a text from him. Forget what people say about having to play hard to get. Text him and set up a date already.
3. Traveling by yourself
A lot has changed since women weren’t allowed to step out of the house by themselves. These days, with the right amount of caution, you can travel to anywhere you want, even to places you’ve only ever dreamed about. You don’t need anyone to hold your hand or look after you. Traveling solo pushes you to rely on yourself, make decisions on your own, and fully immerse yourself in new experiences.
4. Being comfortable in your own skin
Women’s beauty has almost always been dictated by societal expectations. Women were required to look a certain way to be considered attractive: wear makeup, wear a dress or a blouse and a skirt, get rid of body hair, maintain a slim figure, smile—the list goes on. For this reason, there’s a certain power that comes with being able to choose your own definition of beauty. It is, after all, a form of self-expression, so you can forget the photoshopped images you see in ads or social media. Want to forego waxing or even run around bra-less? Do it.
5. Breastfeeding in public
Women are biologically capable of nourishing a baby, so they shouldn’t be ashamed to breastfeed in public, especially when their babies are shrieking in hunger. Let's bear in mind that exclusive breastfeeding is essential from birth until the baby reaches six months of age and that the baby must be given appropriate complementary feeding thereafter with continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond, based on WHO/UNICEF infant feeding recommendations. Even if you’re not a mom yet or have no plans of being one, with the help of breastfeeding awareness programs from organizations like World Vision, as well as pro-breastfeeding projects like Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines that seeks to strengthen the implementation of EO 51 (Philippine Milk Code 1986) and RA 10028 (Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009), let’s spread awareness that breastfeeding moms need a more supportive environment that includes societal acceptance to feed and nourish their babies wherever they are.
Visit World Vision to learn more about how you can help World Vision Philippines. Follow World Vision Philippines on Facebook at Facebook.com/worldvisionph. Check out the Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines website, and download the mobile app on the App Store or on Google Play for ways to spread breastfeeding awareness. Follow Mother-Baby Friendly Philippines on Facebook at Facebook.com/MBFPh.
This article was created by Summit Storylabs in partnership with World Vision.