Empowering Women Through the Business of Beauty

As the world continues to grapple with a pandemic and constantly changing government regulations, Filipinas share how they thrive as empowered women in their respective industries.

What exactly is women’s empowerment?

Surprisingly, there is no common definition of women’s empowerment. In fact, the word “empowerment” does not exist in most languages. Although the phrase “women’s empowerment” is used pervasively in the Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment space (and beyond), it is generally in the context of issues — economic empowerment, political participation, and girls’ education.

Furthermore, most of the data that have been collected is on gender equality — or more accurately inequality — counting the number of boys vs. girls, men vs. women. There is dearth of information on women’s empowerment, particularly at the global level. 

READ:  PH is ranks first in Asia in closing gender gap – WEF

Most women, through education and certain privileges, have realized and appropriated their potential at their fullest – however not all are given such an advantage. 

There is still a portion of society that constitutes women who lack education and confidence enough to find their grounds in a male-dominated society.

So how do we empower girls and women? 

JCI Manila, a leadership development organization, invited two successful Filipinas to join them in a podcast that celebrates women’s month through the business of beauty.

A Businesswoman’s Perspective on the Pandemic

“No one is spared from the pandemic,” said Denice Sy-Munez — Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc — as she recounts the hardships that the company encountered during the outbreak of COVID-19. “All businesses have suffered significantly,” she added.

Left Photo : Denice Sy- Munez, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc | Photo Courtesy of Alike Media

“No one is spared from the pandemic,” said Denice Sy-Munez — Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc — as she recounts the hardships that the company encountered during the outbreak of COVID-19. “All businesses have suffered significantly,” she added.

Founded by her father, EBCI CEO Dioceldo Sy in 1983, Ever Bilena has become a market leader in the local cosmetics industry. Like many businesses, the beauty brand had its fair share of challenges, including this pandemic. 

The brand struggled with the issue of decreased revenue due to the closure of non-essential establishments — a means to contain the virus. This made access to the market limited and with the welfare of 1800 employees to look after, there had to be another way.

“Businesses significantly impacted due to COVID, “ Denice said.  “I think in general, it really is about finding ways to survive and really go towards where the market is going.”

In March 2020, Denice and her team launched three new brands– Ever Organics, Hello Glow and Spotlight Cosmetics. They partnered with online re-sellers and essential retail outlets like Pure Gold and Watsons in order to augment the company’s sales during the pandemic.

“My mindset about the situation is to always have different strategies in place and always to be quick to adjust.”

Right Photo: Different shades of Ever Bilena Lipsticks | Photo courtesy of Ever Bilena website

Despite the government’s efforts to recover from the economic recession, many Filipinos still found themselves reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Denice shared her advice for those struggling to “focus on the resources you have right now” during this time of uncertainty.

READ: Filipino youth reeling from pandemic unemployment, mental health woes

“Everyone is in a position where nothing is set in stone, it’s just about working harder to make sure you get what you need to get done and hope for the best after you put in the work.”

Beauty through Grace and Elegance

2020 brought us a brand new accessory: masks! Though it covers about 50% of your face, that’s no reason not to feel beautiful. 

During the podcast, Binibining Pilipinas candidate Patrizia Garcia defined beauty as “something that emanates from within.”

“More than physicality and perfection of aesthetics, the standard that remains when beauty is redefined as elegance. A Filipina beauty for me is fragile but is empowered with grace,” she added.

Bb Pilipinas Manila, Patrizia Garcia | Image Courtesy of Ms. Garcia

The 27 year old represents the city of Manila in this year’s most prestigious pageant, Binibining Pilipinas. Since its inception in 1964, Binibining Pilipinas has grown to be the most anticipated beauty event in the country, with hundreds of women each year aspiring to represent the country to a more international platform.

“Binibining Pilipinas has always been about empowering women and amplifying their voice,” Gines Enriquez, head of Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc said. “And we remain committed to this goal. By bannering Filipina beauty to the world, we are shedding light on some of the important advocacies supported by our Queens.”

As an advocate for children in conflict with the law and mental health, Patrizia continues to uphold the binibining legacy by empowering not just women, but also the people around her. For the beauty queen, the best way to do this is to communicate and speak up. “Share your story on how you fight and continue to fight your own battles,” she said.

“Confidently Beautiful with a Heart”

In today’s world, there is so much negativity and shaming towards women that it is almost impossible for a woman to feel 100% secure within her own skin. We shame the women who aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, however, we also shame the women who are too pretty, too skinny, too smart. There are too many girls and women being bullied in some way or another about appearances, however, to Denice, being confidently beautiful has nothing to do with appearance.

“All women are beautiful in their own way, however, confidence plays a big role in making someone feel so much better about themselves. People who are confident about themselves are the most beautiful.” .

Patrizia echoes this sentiment. “Confidence plays a very crucial role in making yourself feel more beautiful,” she said. “Trust yourself and manifest a high self-esteem but at the same time, remain humble.”

During the Miss Universe 2015 question and answer portion, Pia Wurtzbach was asked why she should be Miss Universe to which she replied:

“To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and a responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I will raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country, which is the Philippines. I want to show the world, the universe, rather, that I am confidently beautiful with a heart.”

Above Photo: Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach | IMG SOURCE: Latin Times

When asked how they would live by the words of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Denice shared:

“Personally, something that really drives and motivates me to move forward everyday and work hard is because I want to provide more livelihood and sufficient income for the people who rely on Ever Bilena.”

Patrizia, meanwhile, strives to live a life of purpose through her passion. “I am very lucky to have this passion of serving the Filipino people and also to have found a passion for my business which is chocolates!”

Her recent engagement with The Chocolate Chamber, a Cebu-based company, not only promotes local products but also aims to support local farmers through sustainability and a greater appreciation for local agriculture.

Products of The Chocolate Chamber | IMG SOURCE: The Chocolate Chamber Facebook

The Binibini hopeful is also a public service servant working as a policy and research officer for the House of Representatives.

With the right mindset and a positive outlook, Patrizia has “rediscovered her purpose” which led her to become a more empowered woman.

The Secret to Women Empowerment is Women

Patrizia and Denice have gone out of their way to support not just women but everyone around them. From the beauty industry to agriculture industry, the combined voice of these two women is truly powerful enough to uplift our communities. 

So how do we empower girls and women? 

We are the solution. We should be standing up for other women at work, telling success stories and banding together so that we can’t be ignored because at the end of the day, the secret to women empowerment is women.

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