This month, the self-funded Surf & Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) team of 12 women from Singapore and Manila will embark on a four-day trip to Siargao in the Philippines to raise awareness and funds for a new ocean-conservation, bag-making livelihood program. The project aims to benefit 120 underprivileged Filipino women living in Siargao.
Under the banner of Her Planet Earth, a women’s advocacy group headquartered in Singapore that promotes gender equality and the integrity of the environment, in partnership with Waste No Weekend, a movement that encourages individuals to devote 25 percent of their week to exploration, the team wants to highlight the importance of ocean conservation and the urgency of supporting women affected by climate change.
An added objective of the trip is to raise SG $20,000 or P750,000 for the Siargao Environmental Awareness (SEA) Movement, a local Filipino non-profit organization focused on marine conservation, which is partnering with Her Planet Earth to launch this sustainable bag-making initiative, to improve the lives of the local community of Siargao.
The program, which will focus on recycling items such as shopping bags or plastic from the sea to create fashionable bags and accessories for sale, will simultaneously provide the community with a livelihood opportunity and reduce plastic waste and pollution in the oceans. Furthermore, the initiative will empower the community of Siargao by creating awareness about gender equality and more visibility for women’s contributions to society as well as to promote responsibility toward environmental conservation.
“Women are more vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change but have different viewpoints, concerns, and ideas for progress. Until these are taken on board, with women empowered to play a central role in decision-making at all levels, environmental sustainability will remain a distant dream,” said Christine Amour-Levar, founder of Her Planet Earth, who wants to see “gender” at the heart of climate action.
In addition to meeting the women who will benefit from the program, the trip to Siargao will allow the team to discover the beauty of the island by taking them on an action-packed, four-day excursion, which will include surfing, SUPing, trekking, snorkelling, island hopping, yoga, and so much more.
Siargao is a teardrop-shaped island known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines.” Located 800 kilometers southeast of the Philippine capital Manila, it belongs to the province of Surigao del Norte. Siargao has a land area of approximately 437 square kilometers (169 sq. miles). It is considered a secret paradise and a hidden gem with 48 islets of perfect white sand, enchanting lagoons, caves, sand bars, coral reefs, unusual rock formations, exotic wildlife, endless rice fields, waterfalls, and a large mangrove forest reserve.
By means of this trip to Siargao, the team hopes to encourage society to sit up and pay attention to grave issues such as climate change and gender inequality around the world. They are keenly aware that in many countries, women tend to be marginalized from economic and political power, and have limited access to financial and material resources. This increases their vulnerability to climate change and limits their potential to adapt. Studies show that after climate disasters, it is generally harder for poor women to recover their economic positions than poor men. Women’s mortality from climate-related disasters is also higher than that of men. The team passionately feels that women have the right to—and need to be—at the forefront of efforts to deal with climate change because ultimately, they firmly believe that women are gamechangers with unique knowledge and solutions to move the needle on sustainability.