June 20, 2024
EMPOWERED WOMEN — Dr. Elizabeth Solang, an obstetrician-gynecologist and a Covid-19 survivor, has inspired officials and employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources when she highlighted the great contributions of women in combating the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigating the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Here, DENR Assistant Regional Executive Director for Management Services Cleo Andrada gave tokens to Solang after delivering her keynote message. — Redjie Cawis

A Covid-19 survivor and known advocate for the promotion of the welfare and rights of women has cited events how women rose to the occasion to make change amidst the climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Physician Elizabeth Solang, who was the keynote speaker at the culmination of the Women’s Month celebration of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-CAR, said women remain in the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic, take active role during calamities, and inspire people during most difficult situations.
Solang shared that a global women’s health study described that 70 percent of the healthcare and social workers are female, which means more women are at higher risk during pandemics. 
At the height of the pandemic in 2020 when government supply for personal protective equipment was scarce, a group of women led by Lucia Capuyan-Catanes, the general manager of Narda’s, herself, and Dr. Amelita Pangilinan, then OIC regional director of the Department of Health, organized the first citywide manufacturing and distribution of personal protective equipment to various hospitals, isolation centers, and checkpoints.
Solang also cited the Bayanihan e-consult initiated by the Office of the Vice President in response to the difficulty in accessing free in-person medical consult with physicians. Most of the volunteers are women and they felt the relief of patients when consulting doctors when medical facilities were only open for life-threatening ailments and for Covid-19 patients.
She also cited that the first community pantry in the country was initiated by a woman. From one community pantry in Metro Manila in early 2021, there were close to 400 community pantries all over the country by April of the same year with women in the frontline.
Back home, one of the successful community pantries in the localities was organized by Maggie Fokno in La Trinidad, Benguet, where even farmers who were highly-impacted by the pandemic donated some of their produce.
Solang also shared the story of a group of Igorot women who displayed courage and resiliency in preventing environmental destruction way before “environmental protection” became a concept.
Her mother, Petra Tannao Macliing, and her aunt, Esther Ngolab, led women farmers in forming the Mainit Irrigators Association in 1973 against oppression of indigenous peoples during Martial Law and large-scale mining.
Against all odds, Macliing, Ngolab, and other women from Mainit, Bontoc, Mountain Province bared their breasts, as they confronted engineers of a mining company that intended to operate in their ancestral land. The engineers and their crew left and never came back.
“This event should always be remembered in history. The resilience of these Igorot women saving the environment and preventing environmental destruction, way before “environmental protection was a concept,” Solang said.
“In closing, we pay tribute to all the women who have brought change amidst this climate crisis and the Covid pandemic. We also honor all the men – brothers, husbands, uncles, grandfathers – who have supported us, women, as we all try to make this world a better place to live in,” she added. – Harley F. Palangchao