Empowered women and the technology that powers them
Women’s Month celebrates the compassion of and the synergy between empowered women-and raises awareness that women can help each other in a world that needs their kindness. Mobile technology is a growth catalyst, and SPARK’s Maica Teves sat down with Argomall to share how she uses technology to push for the economic empowerment of women and how she chooses the best tools with which to do this.
The executive director of SPARK (Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran) is 40 years old and she uses technology to help push the SPARK advocacy of economic empowerment for women.
Teves told Argomall that she joined SPARK “by accident. I spent nine years in Congress as a project coordinator and as a chief of staff. I worked for a fast food chain. Then went to the Senate. Then I decided to take law. The plan was that there was a job waiting for me in a law firm. While waiting to take the bar, I was part of a presidential campaign. It was where I met my boss today and it to be honest, I didn’t think I’d fail the bar. I failed the bar. I was at a loss when Vicky Garchitorena offered me a job. I decided to come on board as her operations manager.”
Her work at SPARK is “really going to grassroots communities. I guess I didn’t know the issues. The first few months we rode the MRT, took public transport, for the first time. I loved going to communities, because I this was the time I had failed the bar [exams] and I was so lost.”
With SPARK, Teves said she “realized then the value of doing service for others. You see all these women in their homes, and they’re so lost because all they know is to stay at home, take care of the children, wait for the husband to come home and they don’t even hold a single peso. It changed the way I saw life, because I didn’t see all the other issues that other women were going through. All I knew was I failed the bar and I was pretty miserable. Seeing that brought a whole new perspective.”
Teves and her colleagues at SPARK use technology to advance their advocacy: “You have your website, social media. One of our biggest funders for this year actually found SPARK through Twitter. And he said ‘I was so impressed with your Twitter account.'”
“We use technology with the women we work with,” she told Argomall. “It’s really a lot of hand-holding, so we really count on Facebook Messenger, Viber-it’s kamustahan. How are they? What do they need? Do they need additional funding?”
A good phone is mission-critical for Teves: “I often go online to purchase my phones. It’s faster. When you work in the development sector, it’s not a job. It’s a life. It’s 24/7, including Saturdays and Sundays. A lot of the work I do is online.”
She said her phone’s camera “really needs to be a good camera. We have to document our seminars and trainings and, most of the time, we don’t have the luxury of bringing a camera. So we use our mobile phones for it.”
Teves prefers devices “that are easy to use, so that is very important to me. I usually stick to brands that I know. I was always a Nokia person, then I moved to the Blackberry. Until my Blackberry died on me and I lost all my info, so I had no choice but to move to the iPhone.”
Digital connectivity, she said, is vital for “victim-survivors reaching out to us via the #RespetoNaman campaign.” She also said that social media has helped them bring the Don’t Tell Me How to Dress exhibit to different areas of the Philippines.”
Teves’ shopping advice is “Read up first. Go online. See all the specifications before purchasing. I take my time. That’s why I do a lot of shopping online. Online you’ll see the price difference. You can even Google this brand versus this brand, which one is better?” Argomall.com’s “Add to Compare” button was built specifically for this.
“I didn’t know what women empowerment was three years ago,” Teves said. “I have been able to achieve many of the things I am doing because of my mentors-not just women, but men as well. I think I will be remembered by the mentorship I’ve done. I’ve worked with many young women and that’s one of my favorite things, why I like being with SPARK.”