G. D. Anderson once said, “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong; it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” As we continue to face the pandemic, healthcare workers and medical professionals strive to battle fatigue, exposure to the virus, and even lack of support to help the Philippines get back on its feet. It is also a fact that gender inequality is still present in the healthcare industry, adding to the already challenging line of work. However, their passion and willingness to serve the public still prevails, just like what Lily Joy Al-Omari continues to prove.
- The ongoing pandemic and the fight for gender equality does not hinder our medical professionals in serving the public and pursuing their passion.
- Lily Joy Al-Omari has been a nurse for 28 years, working and studying in Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
- Other than being a professional in the healthcare industry, she also strives to empower fellow women by joining support groups.
- She considers love and genuinity as her main motivations in being a nurse, alongside other hobbies such as baking and interior design.
- Just like Lily Joy, we should let our dreams and passion prevail and success will follow.
In her 28 years of experience as a nurse both in the Philippines and abroad, Lily Joy Al-Omari has been a first-hand witness to the effects of gender inequality on women of various backgrounds. Partly fulfilling her dream of being able to travel around the world as a flight attendant, she has studied and worked in the Philippines, triaged patients in the emergency department in Saudi Arabia, and finished her postgraduate studies in Health Management in New Zealand. Currently specializing in endoscopy and surgery, she has dedicated her time and effort to saving lives and helping fellow women show the world their full potential.
Even though she didn’t intend to pursue a career in STEM, Lily Joy graduated from St. Paul’s University in Iloilo with a degree in Nursing. For her, it wasn’t an easy journey. “[After] I graduated, I was working when my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia,” Lily Joy shared. During those years, she lived by words she learned from her mother. “Because of suffering, pain, and everything, you become a strong woman. You know how to deal with a person [in] pain; it’s hard, because you also feel it.”
According to Lily Joy, the best parts about being a nurse, aside from being able to help other people, are the privileges specially given to those who aid the authorities. Working for the National Guards in Saudi Arabia, she and her colleagues were given opportunities to travel for free to different continents and countries such as Europe and Poland.
Despite the perks she enjoys as a part of the workforce in different countries, Lily Joy has had her own share of experiences with gender inequality. “In [the] Philippines, we have equal rights. [But] being a woman in Saudi Arabia is different; it’s like you don’t have power.” She also added that there were no organizations in Saudi Arabia to help women in need.
Thankfully, she was part of a Filipino Club that advocated for women’s rights, especially for those who experienced sexual harassment. Furthermore, she also joined a support group associated with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and other Philippine ambassadors, aiding women who have been psychologically maltreated.
On the other side of the spectrum, she emphasized evident women empowerment in New Zealand. “In New Zealand, we have equal rights to men. They put emphasis on women, like in Women Week.”
However, before being a nurse and empowerment advocate herself, Lily Joy also experienced challenges. “When I graduated high school, my aim was to be a flight attendant,” she recalls. “I was frustrated at first, but as I went along, I loved it—I love being a nurse. This makes me a better woman—a better person; not only for my family, but for the community.”
When asked what keeps her motivated, she mentioned that seeing her children and other people in need gives her more reasons to push through. “If you are well-motivated, you go on and on, and you want more. If you are well-motivated, you are not content [with the fact] that you’re just a nurse,” Lily Joy emphasized.
“For the young, you are the future leaders. Whatever your dream [is], reach for [it]. There will be a lot of hindrances and frustrations, but [these] will be a part of your success.”
“Love is one of the motivation[s] that keep us going,” she said, “In nursing, you have to work from your heart. Wherever you go, you have to be genuine in everything. You [have to] love your work, your patient[s], and your family, and everything will flow smoothly and gently.”
Despite her array of contributions and achievements, she intends to achieve more. Right now, she spends most of her time in the hospital but she also makes time to practice interior design and baking. “Of course, as a woman I never stop. Others say you have to stop at your retirement age, but I [keep] on going.” She is currently aiming to be a real estate investor and interior designer alongside being a nurse.
Lily Joy advises today’s generation of leaders to watch motivational videos and to read more about prime examples of women and nurses. She adds, “For the young, you are the future leaders. Whatever your dream [is], reach for [it]. There will be a lot of hindrances and frustrations, but [these] will be a part of your success. If there’s no spice in life, it’s useless.”
The light at the end of the tunnel might be a little blurry, considering the situation of our country right now. But, despite all the challenges, if you allow your passion for service and your dedication to your goals to prevail, success will always find its way to you. May our medical frontliners like Lily Joy serve as an inspiration to all future leaders to continue persevering for a better tomorrow.