Monday, April 22, 2024

WOMEN IN TECH | From market stall to cyberspace

For over 17 years, Veronica Panganiban, a 39-year-old single mother of two, used to have a stall in the Taytay Public Market, Rizal province. It was a job that provided barely enough to make ends meet for her family… until a fire burned down the stall in 2018, leaving her jobless.

Veronica Panganiban

“Running the shop was all I knew and all I had to buy food, pay bills and provide my two children with a daily school allowance. When I lost it, I got discouraged for a while. But then I thought of my kids’ future and realized I had to learn new skills to find a decent job,” explains Panganiban. 

She applied for a scholarship funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation as part of a program promoting Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Readiness and Development, led by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

After passing an interview and an exam (which she thought she failed), she eventually got selected to join a bootcamp training on Digital Commerce, organized  in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Municipality of Taytay.

Skills for the future: #WomenCanDoIT

“It was a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance, but it wasn’t easy. Being a single mom and a scholar… nobody prepared me for such difficulties. There was a lot of pressure and sleepless nights. But women like me should not give up. It is worth it,” Panganiban says.

“Before the bootcamp training, I didn’t have a clue how to work on a computer. And look at me now, after the training, I can do social media marketing, website and graphic design. I know how to make a presentation and design logos and images,” she adds. 

Over 25 women completed the same bootcamp training in November 2018. Throughout 2018, the ILO, JP Morgan, and the Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA) opened 175 #WomenCanDoIT scholarships in the Philippines, empowering, connecting and supporting career development of women in the Information Technology sector.

The ILO’s Women in STEM program operates in three countries with a focus on different industries for each country: the Electrical and Electronics industry in Thailand, the automotive and information and communication technology (ICT) industries in Indonesia, and Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry in Philippines.

Closing gender gaps, advancing SDGs

While technological advances including cloud technology and robotic process automation, are already transforming labor markets around the world, the ILO estimates that 49 percent of employment in the Philippines (over 18 million jobs) face a risk of automation. Considering women, more often than men, are employed in low-skilled jobs with higher risk of automation, they are also more likely than men to lose their job.

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a great deal of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Unfortunately, women and girls have continued to be excluded from participating fully in science.

“We have to train, employ and prepare women for the future of work given that they are more vulnerable to job losses due to automation. They should get their fair share as the world moves to high-skilled STEM jobs,” explains Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

“It is time to close the gender gap by educating girls and empowering working women to advance in their careers and to help them gain access to decent work.”

For Panganiban, computer literacy opened a whole new career path for her future.

She was able to find a job in the gig economy and started a freelancing career. Thanks to her new income, she?s rebuilt her stall in the Taytay market, and promotes it online too. Now she is planning to start a cooperative of freelancers with her fellow graduates enabling them to pool resources and get more and better work done.


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