Empowering women: A never-ending struggle

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


EMPOWERING women economically is the key to liberate them from enslavement of their husbands, city councilor Candy Darimbang told the more than 1,000 women who joined in the city government led International Women’s Day celebration at the City Hall on Saturday, March 8.

Darimbang said women could only stand on their own if they will empower themselves economically.

“We should have our own financial development so that we can continue to give better future to our children,” said Darimbang adding that women should not be empowered only because they are in an organization.

Regional coordinator of Gabriela Rhodora Bulosan said one of the topmost reasons why women are discriminated is the lack of employment opportunities.

Women dominate the population in the country but they are discriminated, exploited and victims of disrespect, Bulosan decried.

Bulosan emphasized that amid gains in women’s access to primary education for their children and political representation, the progress remains lagging, thus needs to speed up.

“It is our moral obligation to uphold and protect the right of every woman to live freely—free from violence that affects one in three women globally,” Bulosan cited.

She raised that women should be free from the unequal treatment in workplaces and from discrimination that deprives them to full participation in the economy.”

Violence

Teodoro Sabugaa Jr., officer in charge of the city social welfare and development, said in 2013 alone there are 407 Violence against Women and their Children (VAWC) related cases recorded in the city.

Sabugaa said there are a lot of psychological abuse cases that are not reported and hence not recorded.

Based on the statistics in Philippine Commission on Women’s website, in the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) by the National Statistics Office (NSO), a lot of women are victims of physical violence.

The NDHS survey disclosed that one in five women aged 15-59 has experienced physical violence since age fifteen.

“More than one-third (37 pecent) of separated or widowed women have experienced physical violence, implying that domestic violence could be the reason for separation or annulment,” the NDHS survey stated.

Never ending struggle

Federacion Internacional de Abogadas representative Gladys Naduma said the people still have a long way to go against ending violence against women.

“We still have a long way to go to stop human trafficking—much has yet to be done to stop slavery, sexual abuse, and violence against women,” Naduma said.

Naduma added however that some women are politically empowered and serving in the Supreme Court, the office of the ombudsman, and other government positions.

She said women in high positions show that women can be strong and not enslaved by circumstances.

“In the present setup of government— our women are being empowered—the Supreme Court is headed by a woman. The ombudsman office is led by a woman—that only shows that we can be strong and not slaves by circumstances,” Naduma cited.

Children

Sabugaa said children are not separated from their mothers.

He furthered that the formative years of children are very important but out of 10 children only six are enrolled in daycare centers.

Sabugaa said most of the children that did not go through daycare training will most likely dropout in their elementary years.

“And these dropouts will become the children in conflict with the law,” Sabugaa said.

He said every month an innocent child cries because of exploitation.

Women after disasters

Bulosan said the Survivors of Sendong-Cagayan de Oro (SOS-CDO) recorded only 6,000 relocation units built out of the targeted 8,000.

She said 2,000 units in Pagatpat this city “is being held in abeyance allegedly because of the plan to put it under the mortgage program of the National Housing Authority (NHA)."

“Why not give it for free to the survivors?” Bulosan asked.

He furthered that 80 per cent of the total relocation sites had no access of water source until today while others had no electricity.

Worst, Bulosan said since the relocation sites are far from their source of income, livelihood has become a major problem of people living in relocation sites.

She added survivors in relocation sites are still living inadequately that exposes them to greater health risks and gender based violence.

Women’s call

“Ang tatag ng kababaihan is a force that will move us forward and overcome the challenges as a community and as a society will face,” Naduma said.

Bulosan challenges the women to remain steadfast and hopeful amid their current conditions.

“This is a call for everyone, not just for the women, to defy the inept and violent status,” Bulosan said.

Bulosan emphasized that it is every woman's right to demand from the government responsive programs to protect and uphold their rights.

She said women will break free soon and show the world that they deserve better than how they are being treated at present.

“Women should break the chain of oppression and fight for the marginalized and underrepresented Filipino women,” Bulosan said.

Genuine liberation

In a statement sent to this paper, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Mindanao honors all the toiling women, the revolutionary women in particular for their perseverance to forward the struggle for genuine women’s liberation through the national democratic revolution.

NDFP-Mindanao accuses the Aquino administration for continuing to treat women like objects as it perpetuates US imperialism.

“Filipino women suffer greatly under a social order that perpetuates women as passive, inferior, decorative members of society and domestic slaves, given only tokenistic recognition of their rights, unheeding to the struggles of their sector,” the statement read.

The statement furthered that in Mindanao’s countryside, empowered women play an active role in the campaigns to advance the minimum program of the revolutionary agrarian reform, secure some economic gains for the communities and earn position in the budding revolutionary local organs of political power.

“Women Communist Party members are highly dedicated in their service to the people’s revolution. They occupy leadership positions in guerrilla fronts, platoon committees of the New People’s Army and revolutionary mass organizations. Brave women red commanders and fighters have excelled in many tactical offensives launched by the NPA,” Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, the NDFP-Mindanao spokesperson, wrote.

Oris added that the aggressive expansion of large-scale plantations in Mindanao, such as those owned by agri-giants Dole, Del Monte and Sumifru, aggravate the suffering of women peasants and agricultural workers. In the face of widespread people’s resistance, however, these multinationals are hindered from their usual operations of exploitation and expansion. These profit-hungry monopolies rely on naked fascism to rid themselves of these hindrances.

“But, women peasants have shown extraordinary daring in the fight against massive land grabbing, militarization and environmental destruction. They are the inspiration of women commanders and Red fighters who have participated in NPA punitive actions against these companies,” Madlos said.

Women workers suffer even more by receiving inhuman wages and labor under the poorest conditions.

In urban areas, a lot of women are unemployed and forced to leave their children and families behind in search of better-paying but demeaning jobs overseas. Thousands of youths are compelled to stop their schooling because of the Aquino administration’s utter disregard for their wellbeing by misusing the budget allotted for basic social services especially for education, thus pushing women youth to the brink of hopelessness and misfortune.

“As it is, many Filipino families suffer from hunger, destitution, and are often veered towards criminality and other forms of anti-social activities,” he said.

Women in disasters

Women and children in areas hit by supertyphoons, such as the recent typhoons Sendong, Pablo and Yolanda, are predisposed to hunger and deprived of shelter and sources of livelihood. “Up to now, aid for relief and rehabilitation from the reactionary government remain meagre; the lives of millions in typhoon-hit areas have not recovered an inch ever since the tragedy.”

Similarly, hundreds of women and their children continue to reap the dire effects of the state’s militarist handling of last year’s Zamboanga siege. Due to government neglect, the evacuees remained homeless; a number have died of illnesses in the evacuation area, and, as reports have it, some have fallen victim to rape and other forms of crime and harassment.

Bangsamoro women urged to be critical

Bangsamoro women, for their part, must be critical of the signed Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the MILF and the GPH because “contrary to what has been declared by the Aquino III government, this so-called peace pact cannot guarantee their liberation from the traditional bondage feudal exploitation, oppression and chauvinism. They must never allow the reactionary government to render worthless the gains of the armed struggle of the Moro people, which they have waged for decades for the realization of their right to self-determination,” Madlos explained.

“It is only necessary therefore to strengthen efforts at arousing and organizing millions of women for an organized struggle in the assertion of their rights and welfare,” Madlos reiterated.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 09, 2014.

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