Brand & BusinessPress Release

SM Supermalls and SM Cares welcome Women’s Month with a series of efforts to champion safety and inclusivity

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — In line with its commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality, SM Supermalls, through its corporate social responsibility arm SM Cares, launched this year’s Women’s Month celebration with a series of events championing a safe, inclusive, and enabling environment for women.

Promoting safe spaces for women at SM

Nearly 17,000 SM Supermalls front liners, employees, and partners gathered at the SM North Edsa Sky Dome and online on March 01 for a nationwide orientation on the Safe Spaces Act (Bawal Bastos Law) or Republic Act No. 11313. The Act penalizes gender-based sexual harassment committed in public spaces, educational or training institutions, workplaces, and online. Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Atty. Benjo Santos M. Benavidez served as the forum’s keynote speaker and expounded on gender-based sexual harassment and the Safe Spaces Act.

Department of Labor and Employment Undersecretary Atty. Benjo Santos M. Benavidez

Organized by SM Cares, in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and the DOLE, the forum is part of SM’s ongoing nationwide campaign to promote a safe, inclusive, and empowering environment for women, and builds on the success of the first Safe Spaces Act orientation in October 2023, which saw the participation of 7,614 attendees from SM malls across the country.

Sponsor

SM Assistant Vice President and Program Director Jessica Sy reaffirmed SM’s commitment to preventing harassment and gender bias against women, especially within its premises, “We recognize that there are ongoing, systemic challenges that Filipinas continue to face today, both in the workplace and in society. By actively engaging with the public sector to educate our people on the Safe Spaces Act, we remain committed to upholding the rights and dignity of women”.

Jessica also reflected on the legacy of her grandfather, Mr. Henry Sy, Sr., which underscores the importance of inclusivity and respect in everything SM does, and added, “Remembering this provides a richer context when we say, Bawal bastos sa SM”.

SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Assistant Vice President and Program Director Jessica Sy

Walk in Her Shoes exhibit

The compelling interactive exhibit, Walk in Her Shoes, by the United Nations Philippines was also launched on the same day and is ongoing until March 10 at the SM North Edsa, Level 03, Main Mall. The exhibit features real stories from women and girls, shedding light on different forms of gender-based violence they experience. The exhibit strives to raise awareness about the widespread nature of violence against women (VAW), encourage reflection on harmful social norms, and inspire collective action to end VAW.

UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez at the opening of the ‘Walk in Her Shoes’ exhibit.

During the launch, UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez thanked the PCW for leading efforts to empower women, and SM Cares and SM Supermalls for providing the space and platform to raise awareness about gender inequality and gender-based violence. “Gender equality demands a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach. Only through collaboration across sectors can we dismantle harmful norms and build a world where women and girls enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men,” he said, adding that gender equality has economic impacts as it results in sustainable development.

PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann Magundayao Borlado

SM lights up in purple to welcome Women’s Month

SM North EDSA’s Tunnel, together with several iconic SM landmarks and malls across the country, lights up in purple to signify the start of the month-long celebration of Women’s Month at SM. Joining the illumination ceremony are (from left):  SM VP for Operations Engr. Junias Eusebio; PCW-PDPMED Division Chief Anette Baleda; SM AVP for Corporate Compliance and SM Cares for Women Program Director Atty. Pearl Turley; PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann Magundayao Borlado; PCW Commissioner for Business and Industry Catalina Leonen-Pizarro, SM Prime Holdings Inc. AVP Jessica Sy; UN Women Regional Partnerships and External Relations Lead Janelle Weissman; UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Leila Joudane; UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez; SM VP for Corporate Compliance Engr. Liza Silerio; SM VP for Human Resources Cheryll Agsaoay; and SM SVP for Marketing Joaquin San Agustin.

In solidarity with the “Purple Your Icon” advocacy initiated by the PCW, several iconic SM landmarks and malls across the country lit up in purple to support the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment for a brighter future.

“Adorning our surroundings this month with purple serves not only as a beautiful tribute but also as a powerful symbol. Purple signifies the spirit of women’s rights, highlighting the fight for equality and empowerment. It represents a future where limitations and stereotypes are transcended,” said PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann Magundayao-Borlado.

SM Supermalls, through its social responsibility arm, SM Cares, champions women’s equality, empowerment, health, and welfare through its ongoing programs aimed at building a future where every woman feels safe, valued, respected, and enabled to reach her full potential.

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