Women bat for financial inclusion with #ChooseToChallenge campaign, get support from WorldRemit

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These inspiring women #ChooseToChallenge financial inequity with the help of WorldRemit from left, Mayvonne Morales, Charlotte Forsyth, and Cecilia Lumapas

By Alithea De Jesus

The coronavirus pandemic which forced the whole world to lockdown disrupted the lives of everyone we know. It has caused anxiety as health and safety concerns coupled with economic and income uncertainties weighed down every Juan and Juana, setting back a broad spectrum of businesses.

As the economy is slowly opening up, the need to prioritize financial inclusion for all is empirical. In keeping with the theme for International Women’s Day 2021, leading digital cross-border payments company WorldRemit is sharing the stories of three remarkable women from different walks of life. Here’s how they are campaigning for financial inclusion, and how they #ChooseToChallenge financial inequity.

Empowering Filipinas one remittance at a time

As a key player in the fintech space, WorldRemit’s mission is to utilize technology and forge strategic partnerships to provide access to fast, convenient, secure and reliable financial services to people across the globe.

“A lot of receivers/beneficiaries of our remittance business are women,” shared Cecilia Lumapas, Money Transfer Division Manager for M. Lhuillier, one of WorldRemit’s payout partners in the Philippines. “These are mostly the mothers, wives, sisters, daughters of our migrant workers abroad.”

“My work with M. Lhuillier helps me #ChooseToChallenge gender-based financial inequity through our grassroots initiatives in different barangays, which are designed to educate and empower women to make them financially independent. We have a lot of programs designed for our female remittance beneficiaries so that they can help support their families and also for their loved ones abroad for when they eventually come home for good.”

As of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s latest survey, out of the estimated 2.2 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), 56% are female, contributing greatly to the over USD 33 billion of international remittances coming into the Philippines yearly.

Mayvonne Morales, a Las Vegas-based WorldRemit customer and winner of WorldRemit’s Christmas Bigasan Pangkabuhayan Package Raffle contributes to those numbers in her own way. Mayvonne only created her WorldRemit account at the beginning of 2020, using the app to send money to her sister in the Philippines as well as friends in need of financial help.

When Mayvonne sent across some money to a friend whose mom was having liver issues and needed help with dialysis expenses back in October 2020, a message prompt popped up on her screen after the transaction asking her if she wanted to join a raffle draw. She filled out the form and eventually forgot about it. She had not expected to win at all!

“Winning WorldRemit’s Pangkabuhayan package was really the most precious Christmas gift for me as it will enable me to touch more lives in my own little way,” shared Mayvonne.

Mayvonne herself suffered from a kidney infection back in 2015 and she prayed hard for Señor Sto. Niño’s help in overcoming her disease. Her infected kidney was removed and she has since made a full recovery. In return, she made a panata to come home to Cebu every year to celebrate the patron saint’s feast day and extend help to Cebuanos in need through donating household provisions and yearly fundraising drives.

Although she is now a dual citizen of the US and the Philippines, Mayvonne’s life in the States had not been the smoothest, but she persevered. With a Commerce degree, majoring in Accounting, she worked at a bank after she migrated to Hawaii to marry her Filipino husband who was a naturalized US citizen. When they divorced years later, she moved to Las Vegas with her children and worked at a casino for a few years before deciding to study to become a radiologic technician while working to provide for her children as a single mom. She finished her second stint of schooling and worked as an x-ray technician before she decided to go back to school once more to study nursing in her 40s.

Due to her kidney issues, however, her children convinced her to stop running her nursing school and retire early. Her kids—now fully grown adults—have volunteered to take care of her and her living expenses, so she decided to make good use of her pension to fund her community outreach programs in the Philippines. She plans to use the profits from her bigasan business to further expand her relief efforts.

“Staying true to my pledge to Señor Sto. Niño, I’ve been coming to Cebu every year since 2016  to give thanks for the gift of life. When I was diagnosed with acute kidney failure in 2015, it was the awakening moment of my life. I realized that living in this world is not only about me and my dreams. It’s about making a difference in my own little way. So in the States, I would cater close friends’ parties, make dishes, and desserts for them. Whatever profit I made, I set aside for the Philippines together with my pension so when I go I can put these towards charitable projects,” explained Mayvonne. 

Before the pandemic, she was able to donate to a feeding program for children spearheaded by the congregation of a former batchmate who is now a nun. She has also visited and donated printers to a school in a remote area in the northern part of Cebu where her niece is a teacher.

“When I went to see my niece and her students, I was able to donate only four printers because that was all I could afford at the time. I also brought modest goodies for the kids to help cheer them up,” added Mayvonne.

“I am so glad to have found WorldRemit. I have been using their services since it’s fast and convenient. Now in return, they’re helping me to reach even more people through my personal mission and thanks to earnings from this bigasan package.”

Enabling women in the workplace

It’s great to see more and more women taking the lead in the banking and finance sectors, though this has not always been the case.

Speaking from her experience, Charlotte Forsyth, Chief People Officer at WorldRemit, shared: “Banking was not a particularly inclusive place when I started. Although there was a big focus on improving diversity, senior female representation and progression at the time, there wasn’t the inclusivity to match.”

More than just providing female users with opportunities and the tools they need to contribute to them becoming financially independent, WorldRemit as a company has been championing greater inclusion in the workplace.

“In the last year, two million women have left the job market in the US due to the pressure of child and elder care during the pandemic, so we need to enable women workers and entrepreneurs to return into the global economy,” noted Charlotte.

“I’m a strong believer that as an enabling function, any HR strategy should mirror the business strategy. So in the same way WorldRemit seeks to drive inclusion for its customers, all of the work that my team is doing with regards to recruitment and development, should be reflected in the culture of the business. We #ChooseToChallenge financial inequity and enable financial inclusion for all by raising awareness and lowering the barriers of entry to financial services and the financial sector as a whole. I am very proud that our recent focus on inclusion was the second highest ranking driver of engagement in a recent global employee survey. I look forward to seeing more female colleagues thrive within WorldRemit across all business functions,” added Charlotte.

To learn more about WorldRemit’s mission and how you can send and receive money with ease through WorldRemit, please visit: www.worldremit.com. You can download the WorldRemit app on Google Play and the App Store.

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