MANILA, March 27 — Some 5,000 women from Metro Manila and neighboring provinces availed of the sari-sari store training and access to resources program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. The event was held at the SM Mall of Asia, which coincided with the end of the celebration of this year’s National Women’s month. Also on the gathering was President Benigno S. Aquino III.
In his speech, President Aquino acknowledged the role of Filipino women in shaping the nation’s future and the need for their “economic emancipation.” The president said the program provides female sari-sari store owners access to additional capital and alternative financial services; guides them in planning and managing their businesses; promotes gender sensitivity in homes and in the community; provides peer mentoring; and links them up to a business network. Paying tribute to women entrepreneurs, Mr. Aquino said they are no longer merely partners of men in earning a living. He also thanked Coca-Cola Philippines, a partner of the Sar-Sari program, for its initiative to empower women.
Fast to counter the claims of the president, Joan Mae Salvador, secretary general of the Gabriela National Alliance of Women, said Aquino’s speech only showed his ignorance of the real predicament of women workers, particularly in the informal sector, due to the failure of the government to provide job opportunities and viable livelihood programs to women.
Meanwhile, it is self-serving for the soft drinks company by being party to the program. A vast domestic network of prospective sari-sari store owners open freely an opportunity for coke to fill. If all participants start their own store, the domestic distribution network of Coke also expands with additional 5,000 more. Consider when each store sells one bottle of its product in any size a day alone. A wise investment indeed for the multi-national company without sweat. And this is just the beginning as the program will be a continuing endeavor.