At the 4th National Women’s Summit (NWS) held in Miriam College on Tuesday, November 17, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet lauded Filipino women and encouraged them to close the gender gap and break down the barriers and prejudices that hinder inclusive and sustainable development. President Bachelet was also in the country to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting held last week in Manila.

Chile’s first female president visited the oldest women’s college in the Philippines to share her colorful personal experiences as an advocate of gender equality and women empowerment in various areas of her work and life. Her dialogue, Filipino Women and the Youth, is part of the two-day summit that started Monday, November 16.

Being the first economic leader of the APEC Summit to arrive in Manila on Sunday, Bachelet chose to address students, faculty members of the Miriam College community, guests from public and private sectors, and participants of the 4th NWS. Acclaimed broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro moderated the dialogue with Bachelet.

Other distinguished guests during the forum were former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” J. Soliman, Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairwoman and former Miriam College president Patricia B. Licuanan, and elections commissioner Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon.

Bachelet acknowledged the Philippine progress and efforts to recognize women’s roles in the creation of a just, peaceful, and prosperous society despite them being silenced and overshadowed by men.

“There is no doubt about the role played by the women of the Katipunan in 1896, and the contribution of the Katipuneras of Miriam College in the fight against the Marcos dictatorship,” said Bachelet, who is the first Chilean president to be elected twice since 1932.

The Chilean leader commended the Philippines for ranking 9th position in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2014. She said, “I want to socially acknowledge the progress of the Philippines. At this moment, the Philippines is the only Asian country that has been able to completely close the gender gap in education and health, and is the only one placed in the top 10 of the said report. This data is truly remarkable. I congratulate you.”

Bachelet also recognized the former Philippine senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, also the secretary general of the Third World Conference in 1985 and an outstanding officer at the United Nations. She thanked the former senator, who introduced her during the program, for the contributions she made to the struggles for equity and justice that contributed at the global record.

“We must lead, not only follow. We must be the doctor who can heal and cure, and not just be the patient. We must be catalysts and initiators of change, and not just be seekers of the status quo,” Bachelet quoted Shahani’s speech during the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing, 1995.

In addition to this progress in the recognition of women’s role in history, Bachelet is also looking forward to the understanding of the daily efforts and contributions of women around the world. She also noted that women’s participation is still insufficient in parliaments.

“I can imagine that it’s not a paradise for women. In my country, having a female Senate President, female president of the federation of the unions, two female presidents of the biggest federation of students, but we still have a lot of issues. We still have obstructions, difficulties to get credits, differences from the male and female access. We still have violence against women,” she said.

Bachelet mentioned that closing the gender gap, unfinished tasks in salary gaps, access to job markets, female participation in management positions in public and private enterprises, and political participation, among others, are the issues she values most.

Chile approved a law that requires 40% of candidates to be female. It means that no single gender can hold more than 60% of the presented candidates. It’s a must for the political parties to observe this law.

“We all know that laws can be fooled, isn’t it? You can put female candidates in places where they will never be elected. We don’t want only candidates, we want women elected. I said, ‘Parties who elect more women will have a financial contribution or incentive,’” she added.

Bachelet is also concerned with the smallest details as far as equality is concerned. She exemplified it when she cited another development, the “zebra system” where alternation of names between men and women are implemented so as to avoid the separation of women’s names at the end of the electoral list.

In response to the students’ questions, Bachelet stressed the importance of having women in the military forces and the police. “Defense is not only a matter of men but also of society, and women are part of it. I push hard to ensure that women will be part of the whole picture. Women as we all know are very committed and hard-working,” she said.

When asked about her advice on leadership, relationship, and love, the Chilean president sighed and said, “I’m not sure I’m the best model because I’m a single mother now.”

‘Don’t work alone’

“My first advice is in any field, not only in politics, in economics, etc., you have to understand that there’s no such thing as a superwoman. There are always costs. You can’t be the best professional or the best mother. Second: prepare, study, and develop relationships with others. Be assertive and listen to what others have to say.”

She added: “There should be solidarity among women. It is important to serve others, not just yourself. This is a collective action, so don’t work alone. Have empathy, and of course, have a sense of humor. It will help you survive.”

President Bachelet also underscored the importance of equality in women’s participation in politics and government: “If we want the people to be more prosperous, our societies fairer, and our democracies more robust and legitimate, we have to back them up with equity and the political participation of women. If we want to accelerate the pace of the prosperous society that we aspire to, we must double our efforts today.”


"It's not enough for women to sit at the table. I want to decide the size and shape of the table I'm sitting at." So quipped President Michelle Bachelet of Chile at Miriam College last November 17. In an instant, I was charmed.

Filipino netizens, in the meantime, have been swooning over two “APEC hotties”—President Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. The latter has a degree in Literature from McGill, while the former has a PhD in Economics from Princeton University. Nieto has been criticized for corruption, narcopolitics and violence in Mexico’s Guerrero state, while Trudeau has been attacked because of Canadian trash that has hit Philippine shores—so it’s a toss-up.

There have, of course, been other leaders worthy of our attention. Obama’s skills at moderation—and recent pronouncements on the West Philippine Sea—were certainly an APEC highlight. But Bachelet, one of two women leaders (along with President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea) visiting the Philippine capital during the APEC talks, was a breath of fresh air.

Last Tuesday, she visited Miriam College—the second oldest women’s college in the Philippines—for a “Dialogue with Women and Youth.” The National Women’s Summit—a welcome respite from the stiffness of APEC—gathered mostly female guests from the Senate and the House, national government, civil society, local governments, the Muslim community, and students to discuss the empowerment of women, especially in economic and political spheres.

The fact that she had officially requested to meet with women and the youth in this country—and not only business leaders who might have been beneficial to Chile—made Bachelet an instant media darling. Only Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, came close by visiting street children in Payatas.

A physician, Bachelet was elected as the first female President of Chile in 2006 and re-elected in 2014. Before this, she served as Chile's health minister in 2000 and defense minister in 2002—the first woman in Latin America to hold such a position.

During the summit, the Latin American leader commended the Philippines for empowering women since the Katipunan of 1896 and throughout the Marcos dictatorship. She further congratulated us for ranking 9th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2014, noting that we are the only Asian country to have closed the gap in education and health. On women in government, she noted the 26% participation rate in Philippine politics—higher than the Asian average of 18.4%—and the Chilean rate of 16%.

As the first head of UN Women—the agency in charge of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment at the United Nations—she noted that there are still many challenges for women hoping to break the proverbial glass ceiling globally.

“In my country, we had a female Senate President and female presidents of trade unions, but we still have many issues. Women have difficulty accessing credit. We still have violence against women. The face of poverty is still that of women and children….”

As former defense minister, Bachelet also stressed the importance of having women in the military and police. “Defense is not just a matter of men but of society, and women are a part of that. In countries where we send peace-keepers, women have low self-esteem because they are treated like second-class citizens. They find it hard to talk about rape, gang-rape and torture. But women peacekeepers gain their confidence and trust in conflict-torn areas,” she said.

These words are all the more poignant when one considers Bachelet’s own personal history. Her father was an air force general and staunch supporter of President Salvador Allende, who put him in charge of food distribution. He was later accused of treason and detained by General Augusto Pinochet, following the US-backed 1973 coup that ousted Allende. General Bachelet had an enormous influence over his daughter: when he died, in 1974—at the hands of his torturers—she was already an active member of the Young Socialist Party.

“Because I was a victim of hate,” she told an interviewer, “I’ve dedicated my life to turning hate into understanding, tolerance—and why not say it?—love.”

She herself, along with her mother (an archeologist), was detained and tortured in early 1975, forcing her to flee Chile for Australia and Germany, where she continued her medical studies. When allowed to return to her homeland in 1979—less than a third of the way through Pinochet’s 17-year rule—she discovered Chile refused to recognize her medical studies from the Herder Institute—now Leipzig Institute--forcing her to take up her medical education from where it had been before she had fled the country.

Armed with her MD, she worked with an NGO that helped the children of tortured and missing people in Santiago and Chilán. With the restoration of democracy in 1990, she returned to public service. From 1994 to 1997, she was Senior Assistant to the Deputy Health Minister. In 1998, she also worked for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister and subsequently graduated from the Chilean Army's War Academy with a Master's in Military Science.

Her interest in civil-military relations went far beyond the academic, however. Though unknown outside her field, she was appointed Minister of Health in 2000, and given 100 days to reduce the horrendous waiting lists at public hospitals—gaining fame by offering then-president Lagos her resignation because she had only been able to achieve a 90% reduction. (The resignation was naturally rejected.) She also gained notoriety by ordering government hospitals to provide “morning after” contraceptives to victims of sexual abuse.

Then, as the first woman to become Minister of National Defense in Latin America, she continued an unorthodox healing and conciliatory program between the military and the dictatorship’s victims that led to the historic 2003 vow by the head of the army, that "never again" would Chile’s democracy be subverted by the military. Her popularity was so great that eventually no one else in her party contested her nomination for president in 2005 and, after a run-off election against the center-right’s candidate, was sworn in as President in 2006.

As with all presidential terms, Bachelet’s popularity rose and fell, though many of her toughest challenges eventually came to acceptable—in some cases, very good--outcomes. Unusually, by the time she left office in 2010, her job approval rating was—according to a conservative polling agency—at a record 84%, higher even than during the “honeymoon” days that generally follow elections.

During her first year out of office—the Chilean Constitution forbids presidents to succeed themselves—she started her own think-tank and, a few months later, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed her head of the newly created United Nations body, UN Women, which was formed to combine the UN’s diverse women’s programs. Assuming that office in September 2010, she served until her resignation in March 2013, when she returned to Chile to seek a second term.

After winning another run-off election—this time against former senator and Minister of Labor Evelyn Matthei—she was sworn into office for the second time in March of 2014.

Critics have been quick to point out that Bachelet’s approval rating now stands at a mere 24%. Chileans' support for her has dropped sharply since the revelations of corruption scandals such as the Caval scandal, which involved her son and daughter-in-law allegedly accepting millions of dollars in the form of a loan—what we would call here a “behest loan”—from the Vice-Chairman of the Banco de Chile. Caval, the couple's company, allegedly used the money to purchase land and resell it at a $5 million profit after repaying the loan. Bachelet maintains that she was unaware of her family's actions and discovered the relationship between the Bank Vice-Chairman and her daughter-in-law only through the media.

About her personal life, Bachelet has been refreshing throughout: she makes no effort to hide the fact that she is an agnostic, a divorcée and a single mother. After divorcing her husband—a fellow Chilean she met in Germany who fathered her first two children—she also famously had two affairs. One was with the leader of an armed group dedicated to the assassination of Pinochet—which caused her to have to disavow that group’s political agenda during her first run for the presidency, while the second—which led to the birth of her third child—was with a pro-Pinochet doctor.

At the summit, asked by a student about love and relationships, Bachelet—invoking Anne-Marie Slaughter’s famous essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”—laughed: "Don't try to be a superwoman, because it will only bring frustrations. Instead, seek the help of your partner. Be assertive but also learn the art of dialogue, learn to communicate and negotiate… In any field, not only in politics, if you are a leader, you should stop thinking that you are superwoman. You should acknowledge that you need help... Go to the field and talk to people, listen to your advisers, especially on things that are not working well.”

Asked what made her happy, she let out a long, deep sigh. “I love simple things… I love to sing, dance and cook. To walk by the beach at sunset… Seeing my children and grandchildren also makes me happy.” Above all, she smiled: “You should have a sense of humor. It will help you survive.”

My mother (former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani and former Secretary-General of the UN Conference on the Decade for Women held in Nairobi in 1985—a decade before the famous Beijing conference), who introduced her during the “Dialogue with Women and Youth” at Miriam, is even more expansive: “Michelle Bachelet has the humility and self-mastery of the great women revolutionaries of our time, who fought macho dictatorships and restored democracy and human rights in their respective countries—in the grand tradition of Cory Aquino and Aung San Suu Kyi. May her tribe increase.”

The APEC milestone


And how the Philippines put its best foot forward at the Economic Leaders Summit


“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
– St. Mother Theresa

The APEC is over, but the commitments and cooperation continue.  The Philippines hosted a year-long APEC talks and finally a conference of leaders for  bilateral talks and formal meetings after a top-class CEO summit.

President Benigno S. Aquino III, take a bow! Congratulations on the successful APEC hosting! We might have been inconvenienced, but it was worth it!

The “star” of the cocktails was Jack Ma, the multi-billion dollar e-commerce giant.  Even at the welcome dinner at the MOA Arena last Tuesday. Ma was sought out by guests for photo-ops, from VP Jojo Binay and his wife Elenita, Manila Bulletin’s vice chairman Emil Yap III, SMC’s genial Ramon S. Ang, and SM’s Hans Sy to cabinet spouses Nanete Coloma, Corrie Purisima, and Tet Naguiat with hubby Bong Naguiat, the PAGCOR chairman.

We found him to be a friendly tycoon, who readily obliged when we made our photo requests. For a moment, we had this frightful thought that  if anyone thought of doing anything evil at the Arena that night, government, business, investors, leaders would be wiped out. Everyone who was in our “Who’s Who” list was there, all anxious to see the leaders but enjoying each other’s company.

Pre-dinner cocktails were held on the second floor of the Arena with Gaita Fores serving delicious finger foods like scallops in lemon butter sauce and grilled ‘diwal’ in their shells. Cocktails stretched for a while and then we were asked to go down to the main Arena floor.

Even Tessie Sy did not recognize her Arena. Only the floor area was left to tables decorated with elegant but simple floral centerpieces. All the seating areas were covered with grey walls, which served as screens for the cultural and musical presentation after dinner.

To be truthful, I was anticipating the usual cultural dances and songs. Was I given a surprise and so, I suspect, were the leaders headed by US President Barack Obama who looked good in Paul Cabral’s personalized piña barong Tagalog.

The #APECHOTTIES as netizens tagged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto were ogled at by the ladies but it was the young PM Trudeau who drew the most photo op requests. I went up to him as he was being mobbed and told him, “Mr. Prime Minister, I have a son living in Vancouver and I have two grandsons there and all my friends campaigned for you. Can I have a photo with you?”

He grinned and said, “Let’s have a selfie!”

“But,” I stammered, “I don’t know how to take a selfie with my cellphone.” He reached for my phone and said, “Here, it’s like this.” And that was how I got a selfie with PM Justin!

Later, on my way out, I held out my hand to Obama and asked, “Mr. President (you are my idol) may I shake your hand?” and he said with an engaging smile, “Sure!” So I shook his hand! Unfortunately I was so dazzled, I forgot to ask for a selfie!

The leaders all looked handsome, the ladies beautiful in their formals by designer Cabral. The men wore their barongs open at the neck during dinner, the better to relax.  Each barong was individually designed and embroidered according to each country’s symbols and culture!

The performance was a feast musically and visually. The stars, Charice, Jessica Sanchez, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Arnel Pineda, The Madrigals, El Gamma Penumbra, Ramon Obusan, Folkloric Group, Douglas Nierras Dance Troupe, Makiling Ensemble, Ati-Atihan dancers, and pianist Cecile Licad were fantastic. Kudos to Louie Ocampo, musical director, and Paolo Valenciano for that 360-degree “sensurround” kaleidoscope for the guests!

Plated dinner was a collaboration of Fores of Cibo and culinary icon Glenda Baretto of Via Mare. The ‘bistek’ was a hit as well as the seafood ‘tinola’ served in intricately carved young buko shells.


The night before, a state reception was held at Malacañan Palace in honor of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Now…What makes a formal state luncheon (or dinner) at the palace enjoyable?

The food, decorations at the Ceremonial Hall, the profusion of flowers, the entertainment? It was all of the above, but it was the variety of attendees that made the event memorable. The head of state being honored was, of course, a plus, though we only wish, given the number of attendees, that we had more interaction with her. And, yes, dressing up in Filipiniana was fun.

What made the Chilean president, Madam Michelle Bachelet, special was her background as a politically-oppressed personality who rose from jail, on account of her father opposing the dictatorship, to political star as defense minister and health minister and then all the way to the highest position in Chile. Not only that, this medical doctor was the first woman president of Chile! No wonder Bachelet and Pnoy had a special bonding! President Bachelet attended the Women’s International Summit at Miriam College the next day. There she urged equality for women and even more opportunities.

At the dinner reception, guests enjoyed almost an hour of free-flowing cocktails at the guest house while Pnoy and Bachalet concluded bilateral talks. This interlude afforded us the chance to greet old friends, meet new ones, and conduct our own “bilateral” mini-conferences. We found out that Tet Perez Naguiat, pretty and brainy wife of PAGCOR chair Bong Naguiat, was running for councilor in her hometown, Urdaneta, in Pangasinan. Tet comes from a political family, so she has her father Amadeo Perez, Jr.’s blessings on this race. Her brothers are also behind her.

Another political aspirant  is vivacious Maria Rosario or “Maritz” Montejo, wife of Sec. Mario Montejo, the hardworking DOST secretary. She is running for the mayoralty of Pulilan, Bulacan, where her father, Paquito Ochoa, Sr. was once mayor. We also traded political talk with Rep. Pidi Barzaga and his wife, Jenny, pretty mayor of Dasmariñas, Cavite. Pidi is running for mayor next year and Jenny will be gunning for her husband’s congressional seat.

We talked with Sec. Rogelio “Babes” Singson and assured him he was doing a good “daang matuwid” governance at the DPWH. Guests around us agreed. There was also Senator Sonny Angara, as well as GSIS president and general manager Bernie Vergara, NAIA general manager Angel Honrado and his wife Odet, Senate president Frank Drilon and wife Mila, Speaker Sonny Belmonte, singer political-activist Leah Navarro, American Ambassador Richard Goldberg, and Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder and his wife Irene. Odet Honado and I talked about handling stress and agreed that ignoring brickbats as well as prayers helped a lot.

Entertainment saw a mix of cultural numbers and a medley of Beatles songs by Bo Cerrudo, Noel Cabangon, and Lorenz Martinez. A big hit with the President Bachelet was the song, “Michelle.”

The food was mostly seafood and catered by Manila Diamond Hotel, prettily presented with impeccable service.

SOURCE: Manila Bulletin >

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet turns personal and talks about women's struggles in a forum at the Miriam College in the Philippines

MICHELLE BACHELET, PRESIDENT, CHILE: You’re surprised I was the first female defense minister in my country. I’m not proud. It shows how bad we were!

She's one of 21 world leaders talking business at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC summit in Manila.

But on Tuesday, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet turns personal as she meets Filipino youth and women.

Bachelet takes the time out of her tight schedule to attend a women's forum in Miriam College the first time a foreign head of state visits the oldest women's college in the Philippines.

Chile's first female president commends the Philippines for topping global surveys on gender equality, a cause she has been pushing for in the international community.

MICHELLE BACHELET, PRESIDENT, CHILE: I was director of UN Women. We discuss on peace and security. I remember talking to women who said it's not enough for women to sit on the table. They said: I want to decide the size and shape of table I'm sitting at. We must be present.

Bachelet says her country is trying to promote women's empowerment by requiring political parties to have at least 40% female candidates for parliament.

MICHELLE BACHELET, PRESIDENT, CHILE: But we know laws can be fooled. You can put women candidates in places where they can't be elected. I was invited to a municipality where my party had 2% of the votes. I went there and I had 2%. When I came back to that place. I told them, you see what you lost?!

Students are more curious about her personal life.

They ask the agnostic leader of a Catholic majority country what advice she has on love.

MICHELLE BACHELET, PRESIDENT, CHILE: *Sigh* I’m not sure I’m the best model coz I’m a single mother now! My 1st advice is in any field, not just politics, economics, etc, you have to understand: no such thing as a superwoman. JC The important thing is don't try to be a superwoman. That will only bring frustration. Second: prepare yourself, study, develop relationships with others. Be assertive but listen to other people.

Bachelet made history as the first Chilean president to be elected twice since 1932.

It's a feat for a woman who was tortured and exiled under the Pinochet dictatorship.

Bachelet wants more women to join government.

To her, it's not just a job but also her answer to the question: what makes you happy.

Will APEC see more women leaders like Bachelet?

She tells young students they too can rise to the top of the political ladder.

It takes hard work, firm determination and refreshing honesty in the still-male dominated world of global politics.

Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Manila.

SOURCE: Rappler >

THE FIRST woman president of Chile—whose accomplishments in the political sphere are nothing short of extraordinary—has some modest advice for young women today: Don’t try to be a superwoman.

Chile President Michelle Bachelet exhorted young women to have solidarity in the struggle to increase their political participation, in a dialogue with the youth held at Miriam College in Quezon City on Tuesday.

Bachelet, 64, who is in Manila on a state visit and for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, was asked by a student for “advice on leadership, love and relationships.”

The president let out a loud sigh, before saying with self-deprecating humor: “I’m not sure I’m the best model because I’m a single mother now.”
Bachelet’s father, a military general who opposed the military junta under Gen. Augusto Pinochet, was arrested, tortured and died under police custody in 1974. Bachelet and her mother were also tortured and they later went on exile in Australia and East Germany.

Bachelet married a fellow Chilean exile and the family returned to Chile in 1979. The couple separated after their second child in 1984.

After the fall of the military junta in 1990, Bachelet, a pediatrician, became active in the Socialist Party and took military courses. She was appointed health minister and then defense minister, the first woman in Latin America to hold the post.

She was elected president in 2006 and reelected in 2014.

“In any field, not only politics, we have to understand, there’s no such thing as a superwoman,” Bachelet, the founding executive director of UN Women, told the students and civil society groups in the Marian Auditorium.

“What women should do when we are in leadership positions, especially when starting young, there should be some network of women to support you, there should be more solidarity among women,” she said.

“The essential thing is not to try to be a leader alone. It has to be a collective action. Don’t try to be a superwoman. Because that will only bring frustrations, of course.”

Bachelet was also asked about trade liberalization and how it affected local workers who don’t have much support for competing with the entry of foreign products.
She said she was optimistic the Davos negotiations would address the protection of special groups such as rural women, farmers and fishermen.

“It’s not just about free trade agreements, it’s about the world being interconnected,” she said.

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer > 

CHILEAN PRESIDENT Michelle Bachelet, a socialist and long-time advocate of women’s rights, addressed a campus audience in Manila yesterday dominated by its female student population to assert women’s political participation from the experience of her country.

Ms. Bachelet, who flew in Sunday, was the first economic leader of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit to arrive in Manila. This also marks her first state visit to the Philippines, and on Monday, she met with President Benigno S.C. Aquino III for the signing of two agreements on trade and disaster management.

At the “Women and Youth Dialogue” forum of the 4th National Women’s Summit at Miriam College on Tuesday, Ms. Bachelet cited a “gender quota” electoral reform that she introduced last year stipulating that “no single gender can hold more than 60% of the presented candidates,” she said.

This would mean at least 40% of all candidates in a given election will be women, Ms. Bachelet said of the law, which would be implemented in 2017 although it has a fairly limited period until the 2029 elections.

The reform comes with an economic incentive aimed at attracting women, Ms. Bachelet said. But she qualified this initiative is not about “women versus men.” She said: “We should have both.”

Ms. Bachelet cited another reform initiative, the “zebra system” list wherein men and women are alternated following a zebra-striped pattern to avoid the segregation of women’s names at the lower end of the list.

Ms. Bachelet, the first woman president of her country (now holding two terms), also holds the honor of being the first under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, the United Nations agency formed in 2010 and mandated to promote gender equality. In Chile, Ms. Bachelet has, in various positions throughout her public career, instituted policies aimed at equality in the broadest sense, covering women in the police and military as well as social protection programs women and children.

Ms. Bachelet said all women in any field have a role in nation building. “The political system that excludes, or not properly includes, such a big part of the population -- around 50% -- cannot be seen as democratic,” she said.

Perhaps she doesn’t find this peculiar but she and President Park Geun-Hye of South Korea are the only women among this year’s APEC leaders.

Ms. Bachelet also acknowledged in her speech the participation of Miriam College in the protest movement against the Marcos dictatorship, a chapter in the Philippines that finds resonance in Chile’s experience with tyranny.

Other women leaders who attended the forum were former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” J. Soliman, Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairwoman and former Miriam College president Patricia B. Licuanan, and elections commissioner Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon.

Ms. Guanzon, in an interview after the dialogue, said in response to Ms. Bachelet’s speech, “Chile is a good model for gender equality and women’s political participation.”

“It is high time for the Philippines to have a women’s quota, so that we can ensure women’s participation in politics and gender equality,” Ms. Guanzon also said. “As you know, we have a high index in gender equality, and yet we only have about 26% women in our congress.”

In relation to the themes in this forum, news reports cited Canada’s recently elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau (another APEC participant) and his appointment of women to half of his cabinet. Asked why, Mr. Trudeau simply said, “Because it’s 2015.”

SOURCE: Business World >

Using metaphors, jokes, and her colorful personal story, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet commends Filipino women, and urges them to close the gender gap

'I'M HAPPY.' Chilean President Michelle Bachelet says attending a women's forum at Miriam College makes her happy. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – “I know football is not the favorite here. So can you imagine a basketball team where half of the players are not participating? It's like a country!”

Using metaphors, jokes, and her colorful personal story, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet commended Filipino women, and encouraged them to work harder to plug gaps in gender equality.

Chile's first female president took a break from the stiff events of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and visited Miriam College on Tuesday, November 17, to meet and laugh with women and the youth. The school is the oldest women's college in the Philippines.

Bachelet paid tribute to Philippine efforts to promote women's empowerment, and the role of women in the Southeast Asian nation's long struggle for democracy.

“There is no doubt about the contribution of the women of Katipunan in 1986, and the Katipuneras of Miriam College women against the Marcos dictatorship,” said Bachelet, who was tortured and exiled under the dictatorship of the late general Augusto Pinochet.

One of only two female leaders in the 21-member APEC, Bachelet made it a point to meet with women during her first visit to the Philippines. She is the first foreign head of state to visit Miriam College.

Broadcast journalist and Rappler founding editor Cheche Lazaro moderated the forum with Bachelet.

The Latin American leader commended the Philippines for ranking 9th in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2014.

“I want to acknowledge the progress in the Philippines. The Philippines is the only Asian country that closed the gap in education, and health, and in the top 10 of the report. I congratulate you,” she said.

Bachelet paid tribute to former Philippine senator Leticia Ramos Shahani, also former United Nations assistant secretary general for social and humanitarian affairs. Shahani introduced Bachelet during the program.

On women in government, Bachelet pointed out that the Philippines has a 26% rate in female participation in politics, higher than the Asian average of 18.4%, and the Chilean rate of 16%.

Still, Chile's first two-time president said that many challenges remain for women globally to break the glass ceiling.

“I can imagine it's not a paradise for women here. In my country, we had a female Senate President, female presidents of the trade union but we still have issues. Women have difficulty in accessing credit. We still have violence against women. The face of poverty is still that of women and children,” she said.

Bachelet said that closing the gender gap, and the political participation of women are issues deeply personal to her. She was the first director of UN Women, the agency in charge of promoting gender equality and women's empowerment.

“There, we discussed many issues like on peace and security. I remember talking to women who said: 'It's not enough for women to sit on the table. I want to decide the size and the shape of the table I'm sitting at,'” she said, drawing laughter from a crowd of students, teachers, and top Philippine officials.

'We need women in military, police'

Bachelet reaped cheers when she was introduced as Chile and Latin America's first female defense minister.

She quipped: “You're surprised I was the first female defense minister in my country. I'm not proud. It shows how bad we were before that!”

Responding to students' questions, Bachelet stressed the importance of having women in the military and the police. It is a lesson she learned from her experience of deploying female Chilean peacekeepers.

“Defense is not just a matter of men but of society, and women are part of that. In countries where we send peacekeepers, women have low self-esteem because they are treated like second-class citizens. They find it hard to talk about rape, gang-rape and torture. But women peacekeepers gain their confidence and trust in conflict-torn areas,” Bachelet siad.

Even in countries at peace, the president said it was important for security agencies to include women as they bring in different perspectives and specialties.

To have more women politicians, Chile passed a law that requires 40% of candidates for parliament to be female. Political parties must comply with the law.

“But we know laws can be fooled. You can put women candidates in places where they can't be elected. We don't just want women candidates but we want women elected. Parties who elect more women will have a financial incentive,” she said.

She recall how difficult it was for her to get elected in some parts of her country.

“I was invited to a municipality where women usually get just 2% of the votes. I went there and I lost. I had 2%. When I came back to that place, I told them: You see what you lost?!”

'Have a sense of humor'

Despite the strides that women made, Bachelet warned young girls in the audience against what she called “a leaking pipe” that they might encounter in their career.

She cited a study of US firm Deloitte with data from the Harvard Business Review. The study found that a woman and a man interviewed for a job both had “fantastic records” and “a regular interview” but employers called the woman “insecure” while the man was said to “have potential.”

Bachelet said: “The same kind of attitude in a woman can be considered a weakness. That's called invisible bias.”

The questions that made Bachelet most animated were those about her personal life.

Asked about her advice on love, the Chilean president sighed twice.

“I’m not sure I’m the best model because I’m a single mother now,” said the woman who separated from her husband, and who claims to be agnostic.

“My first advice is in any field, not just in politics, but economics, etc is you have to understand that there's no such thing as a superwoman. There are always costs. You can't be the best professional, the best mother.”

She added: “The important thing is don't try to be a superwoman. That will only bring frustration. Second: prepare yourself, study, develop relationships with others. Be assertive but listen to other people.”

Bachelet also shared her views on what makes women successful.

“'Successful' is a word that has many meanings. For some, it means to earn a lot of money and to have a Jaguar. For others, it's to be loved. To some, it's to have a handsome husband, and appear in fashion magazines. The more important thing is to know what you want, where you wanna go and how you will get it. I recommend to be honest, consistent, coherent.”

No stranger to stress, she said: “Have a sense of humor. It will help you survive.”

What makes her happy? Bachelet said she enjoys singing, dancing and cooking.

Chile's most powerful woman had a simple message to aspiring women leaders: “If you do what you think is right, you will feel happy.” –

SOURCE: Rappler >

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Chilean President Michelle Bachelet praised the Philippines for overcoming gender inequality.

Bachelet, who was a guest of honor at the 4th National Women's Summit on Tuesday (November 17) at Miriam College in Quezon City, praised the Filipina freedom fighters from the time of the Katipunan in the 1800s to their struggle against the Marcos regime.

She recognized that the country has made strides in gender equality and further encouraged Filipinos to continue overcoming the challenges that women face today.

She added that even in Chile, there are still hurdles to gender equality which they are trying to overcome. Bachelet is Chile's first female president.

Bachelet also lauded the Philippines for closing the gender gap in health and education.

She acknowledged that the country ranks among the top 10 in gender equality of the World Economic Forum. The Philippines ranked ninth out of 142 countries in the Gender Gap Index 2014 of the World Economic Forum, scoring 0.781 in equality.

Executive director of Miriam College's Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) Prof. Aurora de Dios felt honored that Bachelet visited the college — the first head of state to visit the school.

"It is also very special because President Bachelet is an outstanding global leader who spearheaded her country's development towards peace, reconciliation, and economic prosperity," de Dios said.

Bachelet is in the country for a state visit and for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting.

CNN Philippines' Patricia Ongsiako contributed to this report.

SOURCE: CNN Philippines >

magine an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) where all heads of state are young women.
This was how it was at the first Model Asean for Young Women, a three-day simulation conference of the Asean summit held at Miriam College (MC), with the theme “Opportunities and Challenges toward a People-centered Asean.”

Around 100 undergraduate women from Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Bicol University, Caraga State University, College of San Beda Alabang, Silliman University, University of Rizal System and MC participated.

The conference was patterned after the Model United Nations (MUN) or “Mock UN.” Students took on the roles of heads of state and ambassadors and debated issues like economic development, human security, protection of women and children’s rights.

Each school represented an Asean country. Delegates sat on various committees and bodies and produced a draft declaration for the heads of state.
The activity allowed students to apply their skills in research, debate, public speaking, negotiation and drafting resolutions.

“Miriam College initiated this … to promote women’s leadership. Through this Model Asean, we are highlighting women’s potential for political leadership,” said professor Aurora de Dios, executive director of MC’s Women and Gender Institute, co-organizer along with the MC Department of International Studies, Asean Foundation and the Commission on Higher Education.

There were six topics on the agenda: The protection of the right to freedom of the press, building a culture of disaster preparedness, managing the mobility of skilled labor within the Asean, sustaining the growth of tourism through effective regional branding and creative marketing strategy, antitrafficking of persons, and ensuring the right to nationality of stateless women and children.

De Dios said: “All the topics were relevant to the Asean. They are the very issues in the agenda of the organization.”

Jessamine Raisa P. Rasul, an International Studies (IS) student who was a “member” of the Malaysian delegation for the Asean Commission on Women and Children (ACWC), said they failed to reach a consensus on a resolution, with two members abstaining.

The experience taught them how to negotiate, how to think on their feet and how to deal with frustration, she said.

“It was truly disappointing to see something we built from the ground up fail … but on the last day … every member of ACWC came together again and tried to ensure that our agenda would be put on the table for discussion one last time,” Rasul said.

Niqui Castigador, another IS student, had witnessed proceedings at the MUN of the Far West in San Francisco. She applied what she learned as she took on the role of Asean secretary general.

“I learned … to adapt to different situations and still perform effectively under pressure,” Castigador said.

At the end of the conference, six declarations were finalized. The closing ceremony was capped by the traditional toast by the heads of state.

Tesa de Vela, chair of the MC IS department, said the conference was an avenue for young women to learn by doing. “It taught the young women … the dynamics of Asean diplomatic relations, the meaning of integration and opportunities and challenges to achieving a people-centered Asean.”

Organizers plan to hold the Model Asean annually and will open it not just to schools in the Philippines but in the region.

“We are particularly excited to hold a regional Model Asean in 2016, as it will coincide with the 90th anniversary of Maryknoll/Miriam College. We are also excited to host a regional Model Asean in 2017, which will coincide with the Asean Summit Meeting of heads of state in the Philippines, host of Asean’s 50th anniversary,” De Vela said.

Lawyer Christine Lao is a member of the First Model Asean organizing committee and a faculty member of the Department of International Studies.

SOURCE: Philippine Daily Inquirer >

Preceding the visit on Nov. 17 of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to Miriam College for a “Dialogue with Women and Youth” is the National Women’s Summit, which will gather students and guests from Congress and the Senate, local governments and civil society to discuss current issues of empowerment, especially in the economic and political fields, for Filipino women.

These are matters that have captured the attention and commitment of Bachelet, not just as part of her political career in her native Chile, but also as an international civil servant and spokesperson for the world’s women.

Much of this she owes to her own life experiences, as the daughter of a man who was arrested, tortured and killed for being a prominent supporter of assassinated Chilean President Salvador Allende, and as a doctor and political figure who made ameliorating the plight of Chile’s poor a priority during her term as president.

Indeed, Bachelet has not shied away from showing her “women’s heart” in her statements as a political figure. In her first victory speech in 2006, she offered a reconciliatory hand to those who had persecuted her, her family and all their supporters. “Because I was a victim of hate,” she told an interviewer, “I’ve dedicated my life to turning hate into understanding, tolerance and—why not say it?—love.”

When Bachelet’s term as president ended in 2010, leaving office on a tide of support and approval, she formed an NGO, Fundacion Dialoga (Dialogue Foundation), to continue the “renewal of ideas” from the center-leftist front and to allow for more space for new and youthful leadership.

But Chile and the world were not done yet with Bachelet’s talents and leadership.

Also in 2010, Bachelet headed the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, a joint initiative with the International Labor Organization and the World Health Organization, “to promote social policies that stimulate economic growth and social cohesion.” Under her leadership, the Group came out with a report that now serves as a guide for United Nations policies and actions on “inclusive globalization.”

In 2011, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon approved an initiative to consolidate all the UN agencies dealing with women and gender concerns into a single entity known as UN Women. He named Bachelet as the first Director of the agency, holding the rank of deputy secretary general. As such, Bachelet led efforts to increase women’s political participation worldwide, encourage women’s economic empowerment, and put an end to violence against women.

But in 2013, Bachelet resigned from UN Women to return to Chile, announcing her decision to return to politics and contest the presidency. Having made her political comeback and regaining the presidency, Bachelet is thus at the unique position of being one of two women leaders in the world helping shape the future of economic and political cooperation, with an emphasis on the role of women, across the Pacific.

* * *

Bachelet’s journey from detention to political exile, then to political rehabilitation and power, is certainly inspiring. But it wasn’t as smooth or untroubled as it may appear.

Chile is said to be “renowned for its conservatism, Catholicism and machismo,” which may be why Bachelet described herself as incarnating “all the capital sins: socialist, my father’s daughter, divorced and an atheist.”

Her father, an air force general, was a staunch supporter of Salvador Allende, and was one of his deputies detained after the coup that ousted Allende. It’s clear that the general played a major influence on his daughter, who was active in the Young Socialist Party at the time of her father’s arrest and death in the hands of his torturers.

Briefly detained with her mother, the young Michelle, with the help of family friends, fled to Australia, then Germany, where she finished her medical studies and had two children with a fellow Chilean in exile. But Chile continued to beckon, and with “political normalization” came the opportunity for Michelle to enter the political arena anew. She first made history as Chile’s (and Latin America’s) first woman defense minister, easing the strained relations between the military and civil government. A journalist writes that “her popularity rocketed after she was photographed riding through driving rain in a troop carrier, after ordering the army out to aid flood victims in Santiago.”

An observer remarks that, by being open with the details of her personal and political life, Bachelet won the affinity of many Chilean voters, reflecting “a long hidden reality in Chile, not the fake image of the perfect family or the model politician.”

Still, she takes pains to balance the demands of a political career with the needs of her family. A single mother of three, she has been criticized for taking time off from her official duties to spend time with her children and mother. But, said an observer, “in a country with an average working week of over 50 hours, Michelle’s stand on quality time with her family strikes a chord, especially with women voters.”

Bachelet will certainly have much to share with the women of the Philippines when she meets them face to face.

* * *

Courtesy of my “fact-checking” daughter, a clarification: Idris Elba, whom I had mentioned as a possible “alternative” Bond in case Daniel Craig opts out of any future movies, was not in the movie “Love Actually.” The English-Nigerian actor portraying Keira Knightley’s new husband was Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The service, says my daughter, was to save me from “nasty” commenters trolling for published errors. Apologies to readers, and thanks to an alert and vigilant daughter.

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