Filipina’s role on equality-A A +A
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
IN THE Philippines, women have always played a significant role in the history of the nation. Before the onset of western imperialists, women have played a significant role in society because early Filipinos regarded men and women as equal. Women in their time can own property and can even inherit chieftaincy over a barangay. Women, who were called babaylan or katalonan, performed religious functions as priestesses.
During the Philippine Revolution of 1896-1898, women did not just watch their husbands and fathers fight in the fields, they also took hold of the guns and bolos to fight the Spaniards.
Trinidad Tecson fought alongside the men in 12 battles for Philippine independence.
The word “bayani” is believed by feminist writers to have been derived from the words, “bayan” and “babayi,” which mean the community and women, respectively. This connection signifies the respect our forebears have toward women. This is one legacy that our race should be proud of.
When the Spaniards came, they brought along their patriarchal culture and superiority complex. Natives were branded as inferior to the Spaniards and women inferior to men. It must be noted that whenever tyranny rules, gender inequality likewise exists. It was during this period when Filipinos were fighting for racial equality that women began organizing for their rights.
Feminism in the Philippines can trace its earliest beginnings with the “Women of Malolos,” who sought to be given the opportunity to open a school wherein they can learn the Spanish language. Jose Rizal supported and praised these brave women.
In the field of politics and legislation, the struggle for the right of women to vote and to be voted for public office started when the Associacion Feminista Filipina was formed in June l905. Among the women who spearheaded the suffrage movement in the country was Rosa Sevilla de Alvero. She would not accept the traditional role she was born into. She was the founder of what is now known as the Catholic Women’s League.
Pura Villanueva Kalaw, another Filipina leader, sought equality in the field of law. In 1906, she founded the Associacion Feminista Ilonga. The group’s philosophy was encapsulated in their slogan “What a man can do, a woman can do as well.” She wrote for years regarding the role of women and she was the person behind the first bill on women suffrage.
Another valiant woman was Josefa Llanes Escoda. She was one of those who labored for the establishment of the “Girl Scouts of the Philippines.” She also became the secretary of Women’s Clubs, which was one of the organizations fighting for women’s rights.
Along with Pilar Hidalgo Lim, the club’s president, they campaigned for the rights of women by writing articles in Liwayway and Taliba. They belonged to the group that lobbied for the inclusion of women’s issues in the l934 Constitutional Convention.
Success for the women’s cause came in l937 when Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippine Commonwealth, signed the law that gave women the right to vote and to be voted for public office. Starting in l938, the number of women in politics increased.
Our present Constitution, which was promulgated in 1987, guarantees the equality between men and women. February 2, 1987, the day of the national plebiscite, ensured victory for the Freedom Constitution. Article II, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution reads thus: “The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and women.”
The Party-List System is another triumph for women as it aims to represent women in the country’s governance.
In the 90s, women have continually won legislative gains. In 1992, a bill was passed that increased the maternity benefits of women. In 1995, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law was passed.
Starting 1996, more laws have been enacted for the welfare of women. In l997, the Anti-Rape Law and the Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act were passed.
We can expect more developments towards gender equality, especially if more conscious efforts will come from the women sector.
Below are excerpts from my Doctor in Management Book: Gender Equality and Managerial Effectiveness of Executives in Government and Private Organizations: Basis for Gender Responsive Executive Development Program pages 6 and 7.
Fortunately, the passage of some related legislation on gender equality in the Philippines is a testimony to the growing concern for the improvement in the status of Filipino Women. This include Republic Act 7192, which promotes the integration of men and women as full and equal partners in development and nation building and for other purposes; Republic Act 6725, which strengthens the prohibition on discrimination at work against women with respect to terms and conditions of employment; Republic Act 6949, which declares March 8 of every year as a working holiday to be known as National Women’s day; Republic Act 6972, which mandates the establishment of day care centers in every barangay; Republic Act 7322, which increases the maternity benefits of women in the private sector.
Other related legislations are Republic Act 7305 or the Magna Carta for public health workers that further allows public health workers couples to be employed or assigned in the same municipality; Republic Act 6955 which outlaws the practice of matching Filipino Women for marriage to foreign nationals on a mail order basis; and Republic Act 7688 that gives representation to women in the Social Security Commission.
Republic Act 7600 provides incentives to all government and private health institutions with rooming in and breastfeeding practices.
On the other hand, Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Law guarantees and assures equal rights to ownership of land, equal shares of the farm’s produce and representation in advisory or appropriate decision making bodies to qualified women (NCRFW 1995).
The celebration of International Women’s Month, which is observed in March of every year, will surely inspire each and every woman to move out of powerlessness and limitation into the fullness of who we are as human beings.
Happy celebration to all of us!
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 14, 2012.