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Filipina Youth Advocates for Women’s Education at United Nations

Mandy Romero

Mandy Romero, a 23-year-old Filipina, recently stood before the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) to champion the cause of education for women and girls in the Philippines. During the 68th session of the UNCSW in New York, Romero delivered a powerful speech emphasizing the transformative potential of investing in quality education to reduce poverty and empower women.

Highlighting Barriers to Education

In her speech, Mandy Romero drew attention to the significant challenges faced by women and children in the Philippines. “One in four Filipino children, and one in five women live in poverty,” she explained, stressing that these statistics represent real people struggling to access their right to education.

Romero, a magna cum laude graduate from Georgetown University, holds degrees in Health Care Management and Policy, and Justice and Peace Studies. She has over a decade of experience in advocacy, particularly for accessible, quality education in indigenous, rural, and urban poor communities. Currently, she serves as the president of Capital1 Solar Energy, which builds and operates utility-scale solar power plants and battery energy storage systems.

Despite the Philippines’ progress in achieving gender parity and providing free primary and secondary education, Romero noted that many obstacles remain. She cited family responsibilities, malnutrition, hazardous journeys prone to gender-based violence, and disabilities as factors that keep one in ten Filipino girls out of school.

Romero highlighted the harsh conditions in isolated and conflict-affected areas, where 7,144 schools, known as “Last Mile Schools,” lack basic facilities and are difficult to access due to challenging terrain. These schools often have fewer than four classrooms, limited or no electricity, and inadequate funding for repairs, forcing students to walk long distances to attend school.

Mandy Romero

Promoting Gender-Responsive Solutions

To address these challenges, Romero emphasized the need for gender-responsive curricula and collaboration among public agencies to uplift vulnerable communities. She called for alternative learning methods, rural farm schools, teacher training, and solar-powered facilities to ensure quality education reaches even the most isolated areas.

Beyond basic education, Romero stressed the importance of strengthening tertiary education and enhancing employability for young Filipino women. She noted that the labor participation rate for women drops significantly after the age of 25, with only 49% of Filipino women in the workforce compared to 73% of men. However, college-educated Filipino women are 73% more likely to join the labor force, indicating the positive impact of higher education.

Mandy Romero praised the Free Tertiary Education Law, which provides free university tuition, subsidies, and technical and vocational training for out-of-school, unemployed youth. This initiative has increased higher education enrollment by 9%, with the majority of the 2.4 million annual scholars being women.

Through her speech at the UNCSW, Romero underscored the importance of addressing the educational needs of women and girls in the Philippines. Her call to action aims to inspire further efforts to break down barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable education system.

 

Read Also: Filipina Co-Founded Game Studio Wins Big at 2024 BAFTA Games Awards

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Written by Marjo Piedad

Traveler | Foodie | CONTENT EDITOR
📍Cebu, Philippines
 
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