Published in savethechildren.org
To mark the International Women’s Day, Save the Children Philippines celebrates women whose advocacy are making a difference in the lives of children.
Save the Children Philippines aims to highlight the important role of women in amplifying the advocacy messages and increase reach to potential donors to improve the lives of the most deprived and marginalized children.
To strengthen breastfeeding practice among mothers, Save the Children Philippines partners with former commercial model and entrepreneur Bianca Araneta-Elizalde who has been a staunch advocate of breastfeeding for more than ten years.
Classical singer Lara Maigue and publicist Marcie Linao were named Save the Children Philippines “Changemakers” for their commitments to inspire and empower women and girls.
Miss World Philippines 2018 Katarina Rodriguez also said her journey as Save the Children Philippines ambassador gave meaning to her role as beauty titlist.
Bianca Araneta-Elizalde: Entrepreneur and Breastfeeding Advocate
Bianca keeps a list of “thank you” letters from mothers whose babies benefited from her breastmilk. As a breastfeeding advocate, she has been donating breastmilk to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for more than ten years, thus, saving the lives of about a hundred babies.
The mother of four girls empathizes with mothers who can’t breastfeed even as they need to feed their babies in life and death situation. “To be able to do something about it is heartwarming.”
Bianca said she has long wanted to support Save the Children Philippines for its strong advocacy for breastfeeding.
The organization advocates for the full implementation of laws promoting breastfeeding such as the Milk Code or Executive Order 51, Republic Act 7600 or the Rooming-in for infant and mothers, and Republic Act 11148, known as the Kalusugan ng Mag Nanay Act. These laws mandate exclusive breastfeeding for babies from the first hour after birth and up to six months and encourages the continuous breastfeeding up to two years.
Dr. Amado Parawan, health and nutrition advisor of Save the Children Philippines said more than 30 studies worldwide have shown that breastfeeding provides optimum benefits to both mothers and babies.
He said breastfeeding increases the chance of infants to survive and reduces the risk of babies and children to get respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections and otitis media among others.
Mothers who breastfeed also get a lower chance of incur breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Katarina Rodriguez: Miss World Philippines 2018 and Save the Children Philippines Ambassador
Katarina sees the life of a beauty queen as a struggle to fit into a world full of rules and to break boundaries and barriers. “I am always expected to act in a certain way. They constantly criticize me for my appearance.”
In 2016, she joined Save Sexy, a nongovernment organization supported by Save the Children that helps increase awareness about HIV/AIDS among children and youth. Save the Children opened Katarina’s eyes to the situation of the most deprived and marginalized children. A year after Katarina was named ambassador of Save the Children Philippines, she has traveled to Mindanao as part of the team providing humanitarian support to children who were displaced by the Marawi conflict and the series of Earthquake in 2019.
“Every activity that I do for Save the Children, I always learn something new about the organization, the world, children and more importantly myself,” said Rodriguez. “Save The Children above all gives me purpose.”
Marcie Linao: Director, Publicity and Events
The lucrative world of public relations has taught Marcie to be tough. She said the challenges of doing events and PR is how people treat her as a “woman.”
“You can’t be a weakling,” said Marcie. She said when appropriate, she uses her charisma to relate easily with clients but shows toughness when it comes to the male-dominated industries.
Her advice to girls who want to prosper in the industry: “Make sure that your tank is full and you are contented of who you are.”
“Women need to know that they are enough and that they are in no competition with anyone.”
As a Changemaker of Save the Children Philippines, Marcie vows to use her expertise and influence to help the organization advocate for the rights of children to grow up as productive members of the society.
Lara Maigue: Classical Singer
Exposure to music from early childhood onwards is critical to a child’s development, according to the Nurturing Care Framework of the World Health Organization (WHO). The report says early childhood exposure to music help them speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and strengthen social and emotional skills.
Lara is willing to give a part of herself to encourage girls and boys to develop their craft in music. Her dream is to inspire girls to dream big and take on challenges as stepping stones to success. She also wants to be an inspiration to women with different singing styles to get into the industry.
She said parents and carers have critical roles in developing interest in music among children.
“I am very happy that my mother believed in my strengths, and knew that I am enough,” said Maigue as she encourages girls and women to believe in themselves.
Lara said teaching classical music to children including ‘Kundiman’ is a powerful tool to instill love for country.
Save the Children Philippines provides a platform for children to speak for themselves and be listened to by the government, schools, and parents.
“Sometimes it’s easier for everyone to just tell women and girls to speak up but we have to do our part in providing an enabling environment for women. We have to learn to listen and value their voice.”