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Early this year I had the honor of being a key not speaker at the first Philippine Women Eiffel Tower Awards ceremony hosted by French teahouse Janat and their Foundation “Femmes du Monde” in cooperation with the French Embassy.

Charlotte Douillet of Janat had personally messaged me and truth be told, I really wasn’t sure what I would speak about. She suggested that I should broach the topic of entrepreneurship and motherhood. A truly interesting topic, one that often brings to mind the term “mom guilt” and how many times we feel damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The deeper I thought about, the more I felt that the subject of motherhood goes beyond just bearing a child and in fact touches all women and what this means for women in the workplace.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, I would love to share with you the speech I wrote and how ultimately, baby or not – we are all mothers.

Why We Are All Mothers

by Stephanie Zubiri Crespi

“It’s such an honor for me to be invited here and to address you all. When Charlotte so kindly asked me if I would say a few words on entrepreneurship and motherhood – I wondered where I would begin.

The two traditionally seem contradictory and in a not so distant past, a woman was obliged to choose between her work and being a mother.

Thankfully it is no longer the case today with changing mindsets in the workplace and the internet giving rise to “mompreneurs” working at their desk from home while nursing her newborn.

I never saw pregnancy or motherhood as a hindrance to my professional growth. My very first opportunity to host a show on TV came when I was 8 months pregnant. For the first season of Modern Living TV I was waddling around metro manila my face like a bola bola ready to pop. I gave birth halfway through the season and still continued on.

I never shied away from hard work. Just like many of you “slashers” out there I ran a catering business, chased deadlines, hosted shows, I kept piling things on my plate.

However, it was only when I had a child that I fully understood the meaning behind the Filipino phrase – nakakatanggal ng pagod. Or it takes away the tiredness.

No matter how exhausted one may be after a long day once your child gives you that sincere tight hug or spontaneous smile – all exhaustion melts away.

Suddenly your hard work has meaning. It has purpose. You no longer work for yourself or for your own ambition, you are working for your children.

I am fully aware of my privileged position and eternally grateful to all the people around me who make it possible. The yayas who care for my children like their own that allow me to stand here before you. My family who takes them in whenever I need some time to myself. My husband who is fully supportive of what I do. It takes a village to raise a child. A whole community of amazing nurturing individuals.

That brings me to my next point.

Being a mother is not solely biological. It doesn’t ride on whether or not you have offspring – being a mother is about being able to nurture. Nurture an individual in need, nurture a business, nurture an idea or a community.

This is the power of a woman.

It’s innate for a woman to nurture. It’s instinctive. When you give a little girl a doll, she will care for it.

This is THE added value of women who work. This instinct to nurture, to give back to the community, to pass on the knowledge, to listen and understand with gentleness.

Gone are the days of petty rivalry.

Today is all about the Girl Squad. Women who work together to empower each other, to support and uplift each other.

To this effect, we are each other’s mothers and children.

We work together, not for ourselves but for each other. My success is your success and yours is mine. Pushing and supporting each other up and out of that little crab basket till no one remains at the bottom.

So to the women here, from different backgrounds and industries, through your individual success stories and above all, struggles and how you overcame them, through your willingness to share, uplift and empower… I salute you all and thank you for being such an inspiration to everyone.”

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