ExponentIAL Women: IFSU forum spotlights leadership, culture, women's power

Ifugao State University (IFSU), through the International Affairs Linkages Office (IALO), hosted a virtual forum titled "ExponentIAL Women: Narratives of Women in Leadership, Culture, Arts, Sustainability & Environment" today, March 25, in celebration of National Women's Month 2024.

This event highlighted the inspiring journeys of five (5) exceptional women who are making significant contributions in leadership, culture, arts, sustainability, and the environment.

The forum started with the discussion of the critical role women play in achieving sustainable development. Dr. Joane V. Serrano, Dean of the UP Open University FMDS, presented on "Women and the Sustainable Development Goals," emphasizing how gender inequality hinders progress towards each SDG.

Ms. Cyrene Reyes, Editor-in-Chief of The North Star Magazine and Founder of The Pitak Project/Permaculturist, further explored the concept of sustainability. Highlighting the importance of going beyond mere sustainability, she introduced the idea of regeneration - actively restoring the health of our ecosystems.

Ms. Reyes likewise shared the work of The Pitak Project which is promoting sustainable and regenerative living through permaculture. It is a hands-on design approach that blends traditional wisdom with modern science. It helps one create sustainable gardens, homes, and communities that work in harmony with nature. Ms. Reyes also emphasized the key roles women play in environmental protection due to their inherent connection to nurturing, caregiving, and managing natural resources.

Dr. Eva Marie Codamon-Dugyon, IFSU University President and a woman indigenous leader, shared her experiences in "Indigenous Women Leadership in Higher Education." Dr. Dugyon spoke of carrying the legacy of her ancestors and the responsibility to uphold her cultural heritage, inspiring others with her commitment to her community.

Ms. Kristi Nuraini, Head of Office of International Affairs and Partnerships at Universitas Muhammadiyah Jember, explored "Islamic Women's Culture of Empowerment." She highlighted how the Qur'an empowers and protects women. Ms. Nuraini outlined three key domains of empowerment for Muslim women. The domain of the "Domestic Area" includes financial management, allowing women greater control over their resources and contributing to household decision-making. The second domain is "Social Activities." Muslim women actively participate in social activities, such as charity programs within women's organizations.  The third domain is "Mentorship and Education." Women empower other women by encouraging them to gain knowledge and increase their involvement in society.

The forum concluded with a talk by Ms. Janelle Tee, Miss Earth Philippines 2019, UN SDGs Ambassador, and Philippine Celebrity. Ms. Tee's presentation, "Women and the Arts," emphasized the limitless potential of women. She encouraged women to pursue their dreams and embrace their creativity across all artistic endeavors.

Mx. Clyde B. Pumihic, IALO Chief, expressed hope the virtual forum served as a powerful platform to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women leaders and their contributions in shaping a more sustainable, culturally rich, and artistically dynamic future.#Faith B. Napudo