QUEZON CITY– The Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) conducted a kick-off activity in celebration of National Women’s Month at the DOST-ICTO AVR.

“Kapakanan ni Juana, isama sa agenda”, is this year’s theme for National Women’s month. Parallel to the theme is the Philippine Commission of Women’s initiative of crowdsourcing the public’s pulse on which women’s issues should be prioritized or addressed by the government within the next six years. The ICTO identifies equal access to ICT services as an area sought for prioritization within the next administration.

The kick-off activity served as a platform in identifying the role of ICT towards capacity-building and bringing forth women’s empowerment. In the welcome remarks delivered by Bettina Quimson, Deputy Executive Director of eSociety, she identified ICT as an equalizer in giving opportunities for all people, regardless of gender.

This was elaborated further by internationally-recognized gender expert, Dr. Carolyn Sobritchea as she discussed Women’s agenda on ICT Focus on the Electoral Process. In her discussion, she gave a brief background on each gender’s behavior on the Internet. Following which, she discussed the timely topic of the electoral process and the role of ICT towards the fulfillment of political goals and agendas.

She then cited issues relevant to the electoral process which latently disregard gender sensitivity. These include: sexism and gender insensitivity of electoral politics, Lack of ethical and gender sensitive guidelines on electoral politics, and the flagrant use of sexist language in campaigns and election materials.

With the immense role ICT plays in society, she cites the following steps for gender development in ICT:
1. Strict implementation of ICT related laws and administrative guidelines
2. Continue with current efforts to document cases of violation of ethical and legal norms and standards
3. Continue with efforts to make the ICT community more gender sensitive through public education and other forms of advocacy work

Aside from tackling empowerment from a socio-political perspective, the activity also sought to address the personal wellness of women and men alike, through the Sheng Zhen Gong meditation facilitated by Ms. Inday Grace Jopson Espadero of the International Sheng Zhen Society. Through 30-minute meditation, Espadero allowed the participants to channel and centralize their “qi”, thus enabling them to destress amidst the toxic work environment.

National Competency Management (NCM) Director and Gender and Development Technical Working Group (GAD TWG) Chair, Raul Nilo closed the ceremony by encouraging the office’s active participation in the line-up of activities this women’s month. (See below)