PLDT and Smart Communications reaffirm commitment to digital inclusion


To highlight the role of women as Champions of Change in the digital economy, PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) reaffirmed their commitment to social impact organization Connected Women to wrap up the month-long celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD). 


Connected Women’s “The Digital Economy is NOW” virtual assembly gathered like-minded organizations such as PLDT and Smart Communications, who have helped move females forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum featured insights from various female leaders about digital inclusion and how everyone can help bridge the digital divide by upskilling women for the future of work. Close to 700 women registered for the event and were attended by representatives coming from the private sector, startups, government, students, the academe and media.


PLDT and Smart Communications
Photo shows (clockwise from top left): Connected Women Co-Founder Ruth Yu-Owen, Smart FVP for Enterprise Risk Management Debbie N. Tan, Sanofi Philippines Country Lead and General Manager Amal Makhloufi, and Isabela, Basilan Mayor Sitti Djalia Hataman at Connected Women’s “The Digital Economy is NOW” virtual assembly.


Among the participants of the IWD Forum was Smart Communications Debbie Tan. Having worked in the telco industry for over 20 years in various capacities – from investor relations, rates and tariffs, executive support, and now Enterprise Risk Management, which she currently heads for PLDT and Smart, Tan emphasized how “when we uplift women, we uplift all of society as well.” 


“PLDT and Smart Communications’ initiatives with Connected Women underscore our commitment to empower Filipinos through technology that can unlock and share their infinite potential,” she said. 


The integrated telecommunications company’s partnership with Connected Women is for the Elevate AIDA (Artificial Intelligence Data Annotation) program, which offers online skills development and remote work opportunities in the artificial intelligence industry, particularly for stay-at-home women. Upskilling projects include data labeling, remote work, professional communication, and computer skills, which are all scalable in the digital remote workspace. 


Tan shared how PLDT and Smart’s initiatives with Connected Women come at a perfect time. “Our senior management team has recently seen an influx of women leaders,” she said, adding that the issues faced by females “resonate with all of them.” This led to the participation of other female executives in Connected Women’s efforts, the most recent of which involved international arm PLDT Global. The project is for PGC’s Voice-of-the-Consumer (VOC) program, powered by artificial intelligence. 


PLDT and Smart Communications’ Connected Women beneficiaries will also benefit from career coaching, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and mentoring. Other initiatives in the pipeline include the provision of digital tools and possible livelihood opportunities in PLDT and Smart’s load retailer business. 


“Our efforts form part of PLDT and Smart’s larger initiative to support the global agenda for women,” Tan said.


Other participants at Connected Women’s “The Digital Economy is NOW” IWD Forum included Sanofi Philippines Country Lead and General Manager Amal Makhloufi; Isabela, Basilan Mayor Sitti Djalia Hataman; Philippine Commission on Women Chairperson Sandra Montano; UN Women Philippines Programme Manager for WeEmpower Asia, Ma. Rosalyn Mesina; Facebook Head of Public Policy Clare Amador; Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Deputy Director General Lina Sarmiento; Coca- Cola Philippines Public Affairs and Sustainability Franchise Operations Manager Joy Munsayac; Connected Women’s Co-Founders Gina Romero and Ruth Yu-Owen; emceed by content creator and entrepreneur Mica Pineda.


“Connected Women has built a platform together with our partners, that will enable Filipino women to participate in the digital economy. We look forward to continuing our partnership with PLDT and Smart in creating more opportunities for Filipino women in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Yu-Owen said.


Eli has 28 years of extensive IT sales expertise in Data, voice and network security and integrating them is his masterpiece. Photography and writing is his passion. Growing up as a kid, his father taught him to use the steel bodied Pentax and Hanimex 135mm film and single-direction flash, Polaroid cameras, and before going digital, he used mini DV tape with his Canon videocam. He now shoots with his Canon EOS 30D. Photography and blogging is a powerful mixture for him.
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