Promoting and protecting women’s rights in the Philippines and around the world is something that needs to be at the fore. It’s 2021 after all, in my opinion, gender discrimination and anti-feminism should not be existing issues, and SPARK! agrees. They are an organisation that stands for equality and the advancement of women’s economic and political roles with the hope of educating Filipinos on the matter.
For a country that has been so progressive in some aspects of feminism (we have tons of female executives and have even had a female President), there are still countless events or circumstances that starkly juxtapose all the progress we have made.
Executive director Maica Teves tells me that “The Philippines, while being one of the more gender-equal countries in Asia compared to our neighbours, still has not achieved genuine gender equality". She thinks that we have made a lot of progress but that “women are still a marginalised and vulnerable group, especially women belonging to the lower economic brackets or women from indigenous groups."
SPARK! was founded by Victoria Garchitorena after she retired as president of Ayala Land Foundation. “She saw that there weren’t that many organisations focused on women’s empowerment at the time. In addition to this, she observed that the Gender and Development (GAD) budgets of government offices were not being allocated properly to programs for women, and she wanted to change this” Maica shares.
Through SPARK, more people will understand what feminism truly means and learn to be more gender-sensitive.
All of their goals give importance to a strong academic foundation. I truly believe that to arm yourself with an education is the greatest gift. To be able to confidently make knowledgeable choices will open doors and make a person feel free.
The group organises seminars, gatherings, talks and programs about women’s rights, arts, culture, STEM, sports, economics and business and more so that young ladies can learn more about who they are, what they love and to empower them in their choices. They truly strive to educate women on their economic rights and capabilities so Filipinas can make smarter decisions to support themselves and create brighter futures. Through their regular programs and bootcamps, women can learn about job opportunities and equip themselves with more business know-how.
Lastly, they are passionate about educating everyone about gender equality, proudly developing campaigns to spread the good word. “SPARK! partners with diplomatic missions, local government units, academic institutions, private companies, and other foundations or nonprofit organisations,” Maica underscores.