There are many parts of the world where girls have to fight, and sometimes risk their lives, for the right to an education.
Our situation in the Philippines is quite different. Female students may actually have better access to education than boys do. Writing for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Sarah Gustafson cites a study conducted by IFPRI Senior Research Fellows Futoshi Yamauchi and Yanyan Liu, which suggests that parents may invest more in their daughters’ schooling, partly because they count on their daughters to become gainfully employed and take care of them in the future.
While school is the starting point in this discussion, here are some other 21st-century ways that Filipinas of any age can use education as a means of empowerment.
Value all your classes
Some of the subjects in school may not seem important to you. Nonetheless, they contribute to your final grade, which in turn, weigh in on your chances of getting into one of your dream universities.
The “burden” can be solved with a simple shift in attitude.
When it comes to subjects that you find challenging, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help. Do not be embarrassed about asking your teacher or your classmates for clarifications or extra guidance. Ask “why” if there are directions that aren’t clear to you. Putting theoretical lessons into real-life scenarios can also help. Don’t just memorize information, make sense of it.
As for subjects that you find boring, ask yourself: “Will I allow myself to be held back just because of this subject?” This should motivate you to perform as best as you can. After all, the last thing you want to do is to spend extra time on a subject you already don’t care much about. Stay positive, and you may even discover a few things you like about it. You will not only improve your knowledge in more subjects, you will also strengthen your perseverance, resilience, and other character traits that help lead to a happier and more successful future.
Tune in to podcasts and videos
Podcasts and informational videos are great sources of education, especially if there is a specific subject you want to learn about. Hear directly from the men and women who created multi-million dollar empires in NPR’s ‘How I Built This’ or thought leaders and game changers in the ‘Ted Talks’ series.
The topics featured in these sources include science, sports, health, music, art, language… practically anything you can think of!
Be a tourist more often
Travel is one of the most enjoyable ways to learn about other countries, people, and cultures, but more importantly, it helps you learn so much more about yourself. What excites you about being in new places? How do you behave in unfamiliar situations? What triggers your stress and how do you manage it? Should you plan your future trips better, or should you plan less and allow yourself a few surprises along the way?
If the idea of travel seems farfetched for you at the moment, remember that being a tourist is something you can practice without needing a passport. The point is to leave behind the familiar and try something new. Check out museums in the city, visit a nearby province and learn about their local industry and cuisine, or take part in a community activity in your own hometown. You can learn so much from any of these experiences. Be more curious about the day to day things you encounter. Curiosity is key to learning.
Sign up for a foreign language class
There are numerous advantages to knowing more than one language fluently. You can study in other countries, or look for jobs or business opportunities abroad. It also helps when you travel; being able to speak the local language of another country will make your trip less stressful.
Learning a new language is also a great way to exercise your brain. For one thing, it makes multi-tasking various processes easier because your brain is used to juggling information or switching from one language to another. In addition, it helps strengthen your memory, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In other words—pun intended—language is definitely a great source of empowerment!
There are free apps such as DuoLingo to help get you started. You may also sign up for classes conducted in universities such as the University of the Philippines or Ateneo de Manila, or in cultural institutions like Instituto Cervantes, Alliance Française, or Goethe Institute.
Attend seminars or workshops
Is there a specific topic you are particularly interested in and want to know more about? The best way to do so is to enroll in a workshop so that you can get hands-on experience and mentorship from people who specialize in your field of interest.
Whether it be about permaculture, photography, watercolour, or anything you can think of, search for classes in your area or subscribe to online learning sites such as Skillshare or Coursera. They offer a wide range of classes that you will enjoy choosing from.
Filipinas not only have access to basic education, you even have the privilege of having multiple sources of access to learning anything you want! Take advantage of this privilege, and put everything you learn to good use. Not only does education empower you, it allows you the benefit of becoming a role model for young Filipinas and inspire them to follow a similar, fulfilling path.
Want to read more inspiring stories on women empowerment or learn about opportunities for young females in senior high school and college?