Some of the participants of the Changing Lives through Science and Technology

In celebration of National Women’s Month, the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) put the spotlight on the various contributions of DOST-assisted women entrepreneurs and leaders in building and advancing socio-economic development in the region in a virtual activity entitled “Changing Lives through Science and Technology” last March 19, 2021.

Anchored on this year’s theme “We Make Change Work for Women: Juana Laban sa Pandemya, Kaya!,” the activity featured female-led micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), community-based enterprises (CBEs), and start-ups and discussed how they thrive and made an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DOST-MIMAROPA assisted women beneficiaries during their testimonials

Guest speakers included the founder of the technology start-up Iconik Travels, Nikki Prado; founder of New Hope Women’s Association in Occidental Mindoro, Ma. Corazon Soriaga; President of the women organization Rural Improvement-Club-Kapitbahayan sa Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran, Antonette Herdiles; General Manager of San Jose Family Care Credit Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a CBE in an island community of Romblon supported by the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program of the agency, Analyn Guijaro; the third sister of the family-run 3 Sisters’ Homemade Banana Chips, Ms. Rowena R. Globio; and the founding President of Bahaghari Global Foods Incorporated, a beneficiary of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), Maria Eliza Paylago. Each speaker shared their experiences as women leaders and entrepreneurs and revealed how their endeavors have succeeded due to the acquisition of technology interventions from DOST.

DOST key officials such as DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña; Undersecretary for Scientific and Technical Services and OIC of the Office of the Undersecretary for Regional Operations Renato Solidum; Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Management, Management Services, and Special Concerns; OIC for GAD and Regional Support Service, and DOST-wide GAD Focal Person Diana Ignacio; and DOST-MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay took part in the event.

In his message, Sec. Fortunato de la Peña offered a toast to the active participation of women in innovation and their visibility in the region even without the agency’s push, stressing their significance on nation-building.

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Pena graces the activity to share his gratitude and admiration to women entrepreneurs and leaders in the MIMAROPA region for being active changemakers in society.

The event also highlighted the gender-inclusive programs, projects, and services of DOST to increase women’s participation in science, technology, and innovation (STI). One of which is its newly launched program called Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines or iFWDPH. It is a program that seeks to provide and opportunities for OFWs and their immediate families to establish a technology-based enterprise in the country.

Provincial S&T Director in Palawan Engr. Pacifico Sariego introduces DOST Programs and Services

In addition, it served as a venue for the awarding ceremony of graduate beneficiaries of SETUP. Classified as a Gender-Sensitive Program, SETUP has already assisted thousands of MSMEs nationwide in adopting technological innovations to improve their products and operations. Among those were the 104 women and 122 men beneficiaries from MIMAROPA who have been recently awarded certificates of ownership.

Awarding Ceremony of Graduate Beneficiaries from MIMAROPA of DOST’s SETUP

With both men and women participants engaging in a dialogue, Usec. Renato Solidum noted that the celebration is a reminder to everyone to collectively work towards a shared responsibility—that is to achieve gender parity.

Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay who spearheaded the activity hoped that the gathering, albeit virtual, would empower more women to become innovators and leaders, achieve a better understanding and appreciation towards women, and serve as groundwork in building an inclusive and equitable culture in the region.

An active and consistent champion of women empowerment and gender equality, Dr. Abilay encouraged women participants to harness science and technology (S&T)-based programs and services to develop their full potential.

The event was attended by more than 100 women and men stakeholders from the MIMAROPA Region. Participants have expressed their delight with how these women in the region were helped by DOST-MIMAROPA, empowered socioeconomically, and pushed to become active changemakers in the household, community, and society.

“Congratulations to DOST-MIMAROPA. Keep up the good work especially your projects economically empowering the women. You gave them the confidence so that each one made a difference in their household and community where they operate. Thank you. Mabuhay Kayo! Said Ms. Sonia Aquino, former mentor of MSMEs and CBEs for DOST-MIMAROPA Mentoring Program.