The country’s tourism secretary lauded women Saturday, celebrating their determination to rise above hardships to succeed in their chosen fields.
Berna Romulo-Puyat was a keynote speaker at Taking Charge, CNN Philippines’ second women’s summit in Taguig Sunday.
“I am grateful to have this opportunity to be in the company of passionate and dedicated women … that question and challenge the status quo of what it means to be a woman today,” she said.
Romulo-Puyat added hard work, courage and determination allow women to rise above in their careers and represent women in nation-building.
She highlighted the country is home to determined, intelligent women — something that is proven as the Philippines has consistently placed high in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap report, which ranked countries according to how gender-neutral they are.
The WEF report ranked the Philippines as the most gender-equal country in Asia in 2018, Romulo-Puyat said.
“A gender-equal country is a strong country, and I really believe that,” she said.
Another study by the World Bank, she said, named the Philippines among the most conducive working enviroments in the world for women.
Romulo-Puyat clarified misconceptions about how she achieved success.
“My story is quite simple. I did my best and put in the work. Some think that things came easy for me, but on the contrary, I had to work double or three times as hard for people to believe in me and for them to be moved enough with my plans and visions to invest their time and resources,” she said.
The tourism secretary said when she came to be an undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture, she was worried that women farmers would not be able to relate to her because of how she looked.
But after explaining her goals and vision, and telling her personal story of being a widow and a mother, she found other women opening up to her — seeing her as one of them, a parent who wanted the best for her children.
“That’s the power of our gender — to exhibit empathy and compassion, which makes it easier to lift each other up,” Romulo-Puyat said.
“May you find your purpose and that your work be able to lift the next generation of women in ways many of us can only ever imagine. There’s no effort great or small. Each action is a step that takes us forward,” she added.