Aboitiz Foundation, Connected Women partner with DILG to upskill women in tech

The Aboitiz Foundation, Connected Women, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday, July 18, in support of the Foundation’s initiative to upskill women in artificial intelligence and data annotation (AIDA) under its Elevate AIDA program. The MOU was signed by DILG Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr., Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan, and Connected Women Co-Founder Ruth Yu-Owen.

In attendance to witness the ceremonial signing were AEV Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, DILG Undersecretary Margarita Gutierrez, Philippine Commission on Women Executive Director Atty. Kristine Yuzon-Chaves, Isabela City, Basilan Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, Toledo City, Cebu Mayor Marjorie Perales, and Connected Women CEO Agnes Gervacio.

Elevate AIDA is a collaborative initiative between the Aboitiz Foundation and Connected Women with the aim of providing women economic empowerment through comprehensive digital training, tools, and employment opportunities in the growing digital economy. The partnership with the DILG is a significant milestone in accelerating and scaling the program, with the DILG supporting Elevate AIDA through the identification and endorsement of Local Government Units (LGUs) in support of the LGU’s Gender and Development (GAD) programs.

“Our world is rapidly evolving, with technology playing an increasingly crucial role. Artificial Intelligence and data annotation are no longer things of the future; they are here and now. Our primary goal has been to uplift and upskill Filipino women, particularly in these high-demand tech fields. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to this cause,” said Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz in his opening remarks.

“The strength of our vision lies in partnership. Alone, we can only do so much, but together, the impact of our efforts multiplies. Our collaboration with Connected Women has already begun to create ripples of positive change. Today, as we formalize our partnership with the DILG, we add another potent force to our mission,” Aboitiz continued.

In photo (from left): Connected Women Co-Founder Ruth Yu-Owen, DILG Sec. Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr., Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz, and Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan.

This was followed by some words from DILG Secretary Abalos, expressing his full support for the program, in alignment with the government’s goal of promoting inclusive growth, and endorsing its implementation to all local government units.

“I call on all the local government units, from the governors, the mayors, down to the barangay, to support the innovations of Connected Women, especially when it provides for the training of women. Moving forward, let us always remember that our communities’ strengths lie in our united efforts and shared responsibility. When we support this project, we do not only support women, but we are empowering our nation, our country,” announced Sec. Abalos.

Elevate AIDA prepares women for work in the field of artificial intelligence and data annotation, with graduates joining Connected Women’s workforce pool, creating job opportunities, and stimulating local economies.

“We are very grateful for this partnership with the Aboitiz Foundation and DILG to empower underskilled and disadvantaged Filipino women through digital training and job opportunities. Together, we will drive economic and social empowerment, making a life-changing impact on the women, their families, and communities,” said Connected Women Co-Founder Ruth Yu- Owen.

As the Aboitiz Group undergoes its Great Transformation to become the Philippines’ first Techglomerate, they are harnessing the power of technology and embracing a renewed entrepreneurial mindset to foster positive transformations in society. This includes their commitment to bolstering technology education and promoting entrepreneurial endeavors to advance businesses and communities across the Philippines.

“The partnership between Aboitiz Foundation and Connected Women, further strengthened by the support of DILG, is a game changer. By joining forces with government entities, we are expanding our reach and efforts. We are building bridges between the public and private sectors, creating synergies that will further amplify our collective mission of women empowerment.” said Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan.

“Uplifting women is not just about changing lives, it’s about transforming societies. With this MOU, we’re not only shaping the future of work, but also crafting a narrative of resilience, innovation, and shared prosperity. We are sowing the seeds of change, one woman, one skill, one dream at a time,” said Aboitiz Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar.

Toledo City, Cebu Mayor Marjorie Perales, and Isabela City, Basilan Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman shared the success story of Elevate AIDA implementation in their respective communities.

The pilot program of Elevate AIDA with the Aboitiz Foundation was launched in March 2022, in Toledo City, in collaboration with the local government unit (LGU) and Cebu-based AboitizPower subsidiary Therma Visayas, Inc. Currently, around 80 percent of the trainees have secured employment, earning up to 600 pesos per day.

“To these Toledanas, this will remain the most unprecedented point of transformation in their lives and for their families,” shared Mayor Perales.

Meanwhile, in Isabela City, Mayor Turabin-Hataman has partnered with Connected Women under the LGU’s GAD fund. She is currently sponsoring a fourth batch of Elevate AIDA trainees.

“We are investing in our women because when we invest in women, we know that the entire family and the community benefit,” said Mayor Turabin-Hataman.

Currently a community of 300 connected women, the program is targeting to uplift 300,000 underskilled and disadvantaged women through technology upskilling and income generation initiatives over the next three years.