1. Could you briefly introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Lauren! Although I'm Chinese American, I've spent most of my life living in the Philippines. I'm extremely passionate about educational inequity and female empowerment. I'm an incoming freshman at Barnard College of Columbia University, where I plan to major in Political Science. I love journalism and photography!
2. What is HerStory Philippines and what is your mission?
HERstory Philippines is a Department of Education adopt-a-school program dedicated to empowering under-resourced Filipinas through literacy and sexual health education. The program caters to 8th-grade females at Benigno Aquino High School and rotates through cycles of 15 girls. Each cycle is comprised of 10 English sessions, a female empowerment panel, and a sexual health workshop/feminine product distribution.
3. Why did you want to start it and how did you start?
I founded HERstory in 2018 due to my love for literature, sexual health advocacy, and gender equality. Personally, literacy allows me to express my sociopolitical concerns as a female in today’s society, and I hope that it can empower other young women in the same way. In addition, by living in the Philippines, I have come to realize that literacy and sexual health education play a major role in expanding professional and educational opportunities, especially for those who come from less privileged backgrounds.
It was a very tedious process to actually launch HERstory. In my Sophomore year of high school, I went back and forth to the office of the Department of Education, until my proposal was finally approved.
4. What is one of your favorite projects that you have worked on?
Other than preparing for mentorship sessions, we've recently been working on our Female Empowerment Toolkit. It has 7 chapters of relevant gender-based issues, including a chapter dedicated to sexual health. We've also included interviews with women from all around the world, who are passionate about literacy or sexual health education. The Ebook will be launching in August, and we're super excited to distribute physical copies of it to our HERstory mentees once in-person classes begin again!
5. What are some of the challenges you have faced especially creating a youth-run organization?
I think a main challenge is not having all the resources at your fingertips and often not knowing where to start. I initially found it really difficult to receive funding for projects and also struggled with getting HERstory approved by the Department of Education. In addition, making it a sustainable, self-standing organization was difficult as well. It took me quite a bit of time to figure out how I wanted to structure HERstory, and how many members I wanted on our team.
6. What are some current projects that you are working on?
We're working on the HERstory Female Empowerment Toolkit! We've also recently launched a chapter of PERIOD (period.org) under HERstory, and it is one of the only chapters in the Philippines! With the help of PERIOD, we plan to have one workshop devoted to sexual health per cycle, alongside a feminine product distribution.
7. How can people get involved?
Here is a link to our website: https://herstoryph.wixsite.com/herstory
To get involved, just message us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HERstory-Philippines-102366728133831) or Instagram (@herstoryphilippines)! We review applications on a case-by-case basis, so we will send you the form once you message. As a volunteer, you have to live in the Manila area, but if you don't live in the Philippines, you can definitely join the blog/graphic design team!
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