Wednesday, 19 March 2014

IRRI HQ Celebrates 2014 International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change

Since 2010, it has been a tradition at IRRI to globally celebrate the International Women’s Day (IWD) during the first week of March. The IWD honors the contributions of women in society, as well as promotes collaboration and gender equality with men. Organized by the Human Resource Services, this year’s event was guided by the global theme of “Inspiring Change.” The celebration was not solely enjoyed by IRRI staff and their dependents; colleagues from UPLB community and various organizations from the nearby communities in Laguna also joined the two-day celebration.

Christine Croombes, the new HRS Director, in her message, challenged the audience to take a moment or two to reflect on what we can do to inspire and even implement changes that can improve lives, particularly of women. To further inspire the audience, Drs. Thelma Paris and Sarah Beebout shared their experiences about going through life changes and how it has empowered them. Our IRRI young scientists - Pieter Rutsaert, Hsiang-Chun Lin, Donald Villanueva, and Rosemary Murori discussed their respective projects on women and how they  can be a part of agricultural development.

In the panel discussion moderated by James Quilty and Jessica Rey, IRRI employees were invited to talk about their experiences in working for a multi-cultural organization. There was a lively discussion by the panel members who came from different regions, culture and professional experiences or expertise. Glenn Gregorio, Vito Butardo Jr., Charizabel Sapiandante, Aditi Bhandari, and Shanta Karki willingly expounded on their personal experiences on things they wish they knew upon joining a multi-cultural organization. The panelists provided helpful tips on working harmoniuosly with everyone across all nationalities, beliefs, and gender.

The most awaited part of the celebration was the speech of our key note speaker, Honorable Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. She has not only added energy and insights about women as agents of change, but she also recognized the contribution of the Institute in empowering women in the agricultural sector and in providing training and leadership courses in agricultural research, development, and extension.

As they say, a celebration would never be complete without a feast. A special lunch was organized to meet and greet various employees, not just women but also men, who filled the IRRI Dining Room. The luncheon’s purpose was captured by the special speech of out-going  HRS Director, Fiona Farrell. Videos of women’s invention and the IWD theme song One Woman were shown, which highlighted different types of women singing one song because indeed they are one woman and they will shine.

The showcase of national costumes, in which various sector organizations with young students from Brent graced the stage with their vividly colorful national costumes. This highlighted the changes on how society views a woman.

A major feature of the IWD event was the Health and Wellness Fair. These featured free health screenings, medicines, wellness services, and natural health products. Formally opened by HRS-WRAS Business Partner, Jocelyn Finegan, the fair reminded employees that personal health is important and that there is more to life than work. It was indeed a celebration of inspiring not just women, but also providing healthy options and choices to everyone to change for the better.

During the closing program, Matthew Morell, IRRI’s new Deputy Director General for research encouraged men to work alongside with women to promote gender equality across all nations and to continue the spirit of International Women’s Day at every day of the year.

To meaningfully end the IWD event, the employees also “grooved in to Zumba” as they inspire everyone to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

HRS extends their gratitude to everyone who have supported the IWD program.

For inquiries on the International Women's Day, please contact HRS-WRAS at ext. 2363 or send email to Workplace Communications Article No. 2014-030

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