“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”
This is a famous quote from former United States First Lady Michelle Obama which emphasizes that for a country to truly flourish, equal opportunities should also be given to all women as that given to the men in the country.
Little province as others would see it, but the province of Ilocos Norte gives big opportunities and high respect for all women, especially that a second-in-rank official leads the province toward greatness and gender equality.
A mother to her children and a mother to the province, Vice Governor Cecilia Araneta-Marcos continues to break barriers for women in leadership.
During the Usapang Kababaihan: A Conversation on Women Empowerment and Individuality organized by the Philippine Information Agency-Ilocos Norte, the vice governor said that there is no distinction between men and women when it comes to governance, especially in an almost male-dominated Sangguniang Panlalawigan that she is leading.
“In terms of governance, I believe that we are up to par with any person. I don’t want to have any distinction anymore between male and female. Just as ‘persons’,” said Araneta-Marcos.
Given the equality that she sees between men and women in the society, she ensures that ordinances and resolutions that are being passed would benefit the whole community, not just for a particular sector or gender.
Even when working with Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, she said that there is a harmonious collaboration in leading the province. For her, it was not an issue of gender, but of difference in wisdom and experience in life.
“It’s a really nice collaboration. He has the youth and I have experience. It really is a good blend. We get along together and we both are always thinking the betterment of our kailians,” said Araneta-Marcos.
When asked about her role as a mother to her children and being a mother to the province, she said that her role as a parent has became instrumental in leading Ilocos Norte.
“I’ve been a mother for 38 years and because of that experience, I just widen my expanse…How I treat my family is how I treat the people of the province. I care for them, I look out for them, I nourish and nurture them, and that is what a mother does. That’s also what I encourage my fellow women legislators and leaders to draw from - the innate sense in us,” explained the vice governor.
Further, she recognizes the empowering feature of Ilokanas in the province- in every walk of life, regardless of status, age, and career.
“An empowered Ilokana is every woman in every walk of life. She is also many other things- she is not stuck in just one mold. That is being empowered, to be able to do a lot of things. You are able to do things and see accomplishments so that you can do things for the people around you,” said Araneta-Marcos.
Indeed, women are not only limited in their capability for the society. They are now situated in various fields such as governance, business, and other careers. With a woman placed in a high seat for leadership, the nation shall truly flourish because of her innate power and nurturing care. (JCR/MJTAB PIA Ilocos Norte)