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By Gwen Gelou Retardo

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With a passion for societal change and gender equality, the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan National Service Training Program (NSTP) 2 section BG students, in collaboration with the Xavier Ateneo Gender and Development (XAGaD), made their marks through campaigns challenging societal norms and promoting inclusivity. 

One such initiative is the "Purple Your Icon" activity during the celebration of 2024 Women's Month, representing a symbol of hope and solidarity. The Xavier University community gathered to tie purple ribbons to pay honor and tribute to women at the Virgin of the Poor statue at the XU Immaculate Conception Chapel. It was a simple gesture that raised a powerful statement that echoed those voices who advocate for gender equality worldwide.


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Complementing this event was the campaign on gender-fair language. It is an advocacy campaign that aims to raise awareness about the importance of gender sensitivity and inclusivity. Posters adorned the classrooms and information boards of the XU Basic Education campuses, identifying discriminating terms and promoting inclusive language. The students tried to create an environment that values inclusivity and respect.

Despite the challenges, Darylle Jane Casalda, an NSTP student, fondly recalled her overall experience with NSTP. Promoting the gender and development program was a warm and fulfilling experience for her. She witnessed how it went beyond the mere work of information dissemination. Seeing everyone in high spirits while engaging with the XU community proves to be inspiring and empowering to all the genders." Another student, Mark Christian Agbalog, said that the campaign made him realize that as a Filipino citizen and an active part of the community, it is vital to lead by example and nurture young minds to lay the foundation for what is to come. It made a significant impact on him as a person. He realized that no matter how they embraced the traditional misconceptions before, it is still possible to unlearn the mistakes and ensure the next generation will not commit the same mistakes they did."


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Through their unwavering dedication and innovative approaches, NSTP students commit to championing gender equality and sparking change within and outside their community. As their voices grow louder and their impact deepens, they remain steadfast in pursuing a more inclusive and equitable society.