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gender equality

Pia Cayetano, a mom, a senator, a triathlete

pia-cayetano4“I can’t believe Tita Pia is now Senator Pia”, my two daughters exclaimed in awe after we told them that she had won the senatorial race in 2004. My girls knew their Tita Pia and played with her toddlers way back the time my husband and her then husband started a law office in the mid 90’s. Pia was there to hold my hand during the wake of my son who took time to talk to me, who took the trouble to order me a grief recovery book from the states. There are not many who know how to console a bereaved but like her brother Alan (who was there with me by the hospital bed with Luijoe), she truly showed compassion and sincerity.

When Pia won in 2004, I knew she was going to accomplish a lot. Even if she trailed in the surveys at the start of the campaign, I was confident she’d top it and she did. Health is her advocacy . I asked her “what motivated you to focus on Health?”

I am a lawyer as a profession . I believed no matter the training, emotions and background dictate the path. I talked about the loss of my son and my father due to severe illnesses. I was thankful we had the means to keep them happy and healthy. I was mindful of the fact of the work that my dad had done. There was much to be done. When I ran in 2004, I ran in the campaign of health. I lost my father and my son in my speech. Advisers told me to change my speech. I have nothing else to talk about. I talk about my background. I am a lawyer. I graduated with honors. That is where my competence and qualification come in. What is my passion? What do I have to offer? I want to do something with health care. I still talk that way.

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Yasmin Busran Lao on gender equality

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are fundamental to the global mission of the United Nations to achieve equal rights and dignity for all… But equality for women and girls is also an economic and social imperative. Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals — peace, security, sustainable development — stand in jeopardy.”


How appropriate is it that the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – which is observed worldwide on 8 March – is “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”.

I am reminded of my interview with senatorial candidate Yasmin Busran Lao last January. The interview nearly didn’t take place. Yasmin wanted just one blogger for this interview. She wasn’t sure how bloggers did interviews. I assured her that I will be fair that I will just let her do the talking. Shy at first, she warmed up as I asked her to narrate her story, the reasons for running as a senator.


She mused ““I have been doing it anyway. I have been advocating for women seizing the center of power and reframing politics ..and how can I go to the community of women and talk about women’s political participation when I was given the opportunity and I say ““No”? What message will she give to the women if she said ““no”? When the opportunity came, Yasmin (otherwise known as Yas) felt she needed to walk the talk.”
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