Spotlighting EmpowHER Club: Feminism and Confidence

Written by: Amadine

Edited by: Jagat

Visual by: Mischka

EmpowHER – a new addition to the wide range of clubs at ISM – provides a direct avenue for feminism within the student body. Boasting over 50+ signups, this pilot club, led by Ela, Leila and Miki, has sparked massive interest! With the “goal to improve the self-esteem and confidence of young girls and boys’  through role modelling empowerment and creating conversation, EmpowHER is an example of student modernization.

Leila, EmpowHER co-founder, promoting EmpowHER at Club Expo

ISM students, as seen through the excitement of an in-person Club Expo, are innovating the conceptof what a club can be. As such, our very own Bearcats are constructing out-of-the-box ideas forming fresh, compelling plans to take action. This is exemplified through Miki, Ela and Leila’s initiative itself. Shifting from a digital to physical environment, plus learning new things about our needs and wants, this club expo is led by likeminded students who have experienced two worlds; in-person and distance learning. As such, with a taste of both, they have applied findings old and new to create arguably the greatest Expo yet. Clubs further delve into specific topics of interest that need to be talked about; in the same way, EmpowHER strives to direct light to issues in Gender Equality.  Incentivized by the elation  of finally experiencing an in-person Club Expo, so many creative ideas have come about. And as a result, Club Expo 2022 cannot be likened to any Club Expo before its time!

 EmpowHER is refreshing. Never have we encountered a club met with such hyperfocus on SDG #5: Gender Equality in regard to feminism. Though we have seen some mini-projects relating to Gender, ISM now has a channel for this subject itself. To gather further insight on EmpowHER, I interviewed the founding members!


A conversation with EmpowHER:

Q: Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about EmpowHER — what are your goals and how do you envision it growing even after you graduate?

A: EmpowHER has the goal to improve the self-esteem and confidence of young girls and boys by building a trusting relationship, as well as becoming a role model of empowerment for them. We want to teach the value of femininity as a strength as opposed to something to be looked down on, and encourage all to break society’s prejudiced understanding of women through fostering trusting relationships, and strength-building. We also have a focus on advocating for improving women’s and girl’s health, especially in the area of period poverty and menstruation, while supporting women in underserved communities through menstrual health education and improving access to menstrual care products. 

Q: What encouraged you all to create EmpowHER? Have these topics always been of interest to you?

Leila: “EmpowHER” was a previous CAS project my sister and some friends had worked on. I wanted to bring EmpowHER’s mission to ISM so that it can have a bigger and a more lasting impact on not only the students at ISM but also students from local schools. Feminism and women’s rights have always been of interest to me and I’m hoping that as this club progresses forward that we create a better environment for the ISM community.

Ela: My siblings and I started the Nala Woman PH company a few years back, focusing on ending the period poverty crisis in the Philippines, and introducing a sustainable alternative. Since then, I wanted to incorporate these ideals into ISM through a fundraiser or CAS project, but never was inspired to start a club until meeting with Leila and Miki.

Miki: I only recently got into understanding the issue of period poverty here in the Philippines. As someone who is interested in medicine, I began to feel like advocating for women’s health (periods, mental health, empowerment) is of utmost importance as well as fostering a community that genuinely wants to explore and mend different disparities not limited to gender, but also in relation to self confidence etc. Also, my CAS project was similar to our mission. 

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the process? I find this interesting! It’s a student-led, pilot club. How did you present your concept and what did this take? 

A: This club started as two separate ideas with the same goal to empower the students at ISM, especially the young girls. We both separately pitched our plans to Mr. Woods who then introduced us to one another and got us talking about combining our clubs! We spent the summer working together on upcoming project ideas, and once the year started we fully pitched our idea to Ms. Thompson, who approved us for Club Expo.

Q: Why is this cause relevant to the ISM community? Do you feel topics revolving feminism is underreceived or overlooked?

A: Since we started high school, there hasn’t been a club specifically focusing on women’s rights and empowering the younger generation of girls we have here in ISM. When we pitched our idea to the PE department, they told us stories of students who needed extra information about the changes they were going through and how unaware they were about certain puberty issues as these topics can be challenging to bring up. Our club aims to end the stigma around these “taboo” topics and show our community that young boys and girls have nothing to be ashamed of. 

Q: What are some upcoming projects or activities we should look forward to?

  • Period talk workshop – encouraging all young menstruators to feel more confident with dealing with their period and discussing lesser known nuances like sustainability, period poverty, having a period but having a different gender identity that isnt a cisgender woman, etc.
  • Adolescence handbook/book for distribution which will be handed out to service partners/purchased maybe.
  • ES/MS partnerships (mentor groups and Q&A about topics like self confidence, periods, puberty, empowerment, and the “debunking” conventional beauty standards)
  • Impactful women talks/webinars
  • Out of school art workshops/saturday services with local schools

Q: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to broadcast to the ISM community regarding the club? 

A: We’re happy for the opportunity to introduce this club to ISM, and hope you guys love this club as much as we do <3

P.s also excited to collab with other ISM clubs and orgs for fun projects <33


EmpowHER is a stimulating new endeavor with a cause of relevance. ISM is rapidly expanding – becoming a community where issues, once concealed and masked, are now being addressed. 

As the youth, we can role model universal views and provide a glimmer of hope for the future of the next generations. 

Stay tuned with EmpowHER this year and email for inquiries:

garcial@ismanila.org

gonzalesl@ismanila.org

lynchm@ismanila.org