Stories of Becoming: Creating Equitable Spaces for All

By Zennoe Zabdiel Villanueva | Posted on March 26, 2024

A lovely Saturday afternoon of October 21, 2023 awaits me and PP Jemar Malinao for an interesting engagement in store – something that we find very different at first but gradually blossomed into one of the best conversations we had with fellow youth leaders and women of strong will and commitment to empowerment. It was in Ceylon Coffee Club in Escario Street that we got invited to a collaborative sharing session with women from the Gihay Initiative – Stories of Becoming – and celebrating both the International Day of the Girl Child, as well as the Coming Out Day.

The Gihay Initiative founder Alixandra Iris Alviola sharing about their projects and advocacies to PP Jemar Malinao.

It all started with me waiting for Alixandra Iris Alviola (Alix) in discussing for potential collaborations between the Rotaract Club of Cebu and The Gihay Initiative in which she led the campaign for sustainable and poverty-ending menstrual health management through reusable napkins to women and girls below the poverty line. Then came Alix’s older sister, Aryanna, introducing and welcoming us to this event. 

From there, more of our fellow friends from ‘Gihay’ and PP Jemar came for the 2-hour sit-down. Though a surprise at first, but in true Rotaract spirit, we lend our ears and hearts to stories of fellow women and their struggles for us to really ignite empathy, understanding, and strengthen Rotary’s advocacy for women and girls – traced back from Past RI President Shekhar Mehta.

Conversations on men, women, and queers, from the perspective of Rotaractors, are really not much different, yet are to be given a high regard of respect and equitable approaches, enabling better understanding of each person’s needs and wants.

Stories of Becoming became a spark and a bridge to people of various genders and orientations, and an opportunity to connect and collaborate for future fruitful endeavors. Furthermore, it takes us back to what makes us human – understanding ourselves and others ina more intimate level, and to always remind ourselves to be kind, and to lend an ear and a hand, not only to the bad times, but to be with them every day, everywhere.

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