Isabela City Mayor Sitti Djalia A. Turabin-Hataman partnered with Connected Women to enhance the economic life of her female constituents. Connected Women, a social-impact tech start-up that promotes online skills development and remote work opportunities to women, launched ELEVATE at the height of the pandemic in 2020. ELEVATE is a blended-learning course that eases women from low-income and COVID-19-displaced groups into remote work. ELEVATE AIDA or Artificial Intelligence Data Annotation is its flagship program.
Since ELEVATE AIDA’s launch, over 487 scholars have participated in the course.
“We in Isabela City, Basilan, are proud to partner with Connected Women’s ELEVATE AIDA, which not only provides our women with online skills but more importantly, opens us to the world of the digital economy,” said Turabin-Hataman. “This is an economic platform which, without the opportunity given by ELEVATE AIDA, could have been another missed opportunity for us here.”
Turabin-Hataman believes that people on the outside dismiss Basilan residents as marginalized. “Laging na pag-iiwanan (always left behind), but at the same time, we also want the world to know that we have so much to offer.”
Programs like ELEVATE AIDA, she added, transform them from beneficiaries to contributors.
“We want to be not just recipients of any economic developments but contributors lalo na yung mga kababaihan (especially the women),” she said. “We are really investing in our women kasi alam naming kapag nag invest tayo sa kababaihan, buong pamilya ang makikinabang, buong komunidad ang makikinabang (when we invest in women, the entire family and community benefit.”
According to former participant Mechell Santos’ testimonial, the opportunity has tremendous rewards. A single mom, it has allowed her to fulfil her homebound responsibilities while earning herself.
Reymarie Lopez, who’s currently working on a data annotation project in Connected women said, ” Bilang isang Elevate AIDA Graduate, nagkaroon po ako ng chance na maging parte ng Data Annotation Pool ng isang Project. Kahit papano, na experience ko po yung remote work. Malaki po Ang naitutulong nito sa mga kababaihan na di makapag trabaho.”
Connected Women has trained fifteen Elevate AIDA batches to date.
The Turn of the Tide
In 2011, Amina Rasul, president of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, detailed in an article how women in Mindanao were stuck between a rock and a hard place. She wrote:
“It is important to note the emerging activism of women in Muslim communities in the Philippines, which is a direct response to the double burden that women bear. First, they are primarily responsible for the welfare of their families but lack access to programs and support. Second, while Muslim women are not responsible for conflicts in their communities, a great responsibility is laid on the shoulders of Muslim women and yet they are not heard but only seen.”
Rasul advised that women must own their vital roles in serious social, political and economic issues. A decade later, Connected Women, Turabin-Hataman, and their other partners have responded to that call, providing not just a gratuity but sustainable opportunity.
With the onset of COVID-19, the threat of women being re-relegated to caretaker roles became imminent. However, programs like ELEVATE AIDA help them stand on their own and get the best of both worlds.