Vugt: Catholic women on the march

WHAT President Donald Trump and President Duterte have in common is that they have both shown an attitude of being anti-women.

In the United States, this has led to a Women’s March last January. Two million people around the world took their concern to the streets at the threat they feared. Donald Trump’s presidency poses for women’s rights. Yet the diversity of issues on show presented Catholic women with difficult choices.

I believe, the same should happen here in the Philippines. Women should protest against Duterte’s statements against women, which are sometimes very offensive for women.

The women in the States were marching for the protection of their rights, their safety, their health and their families, as well as for a host of other, sometimes conflicting causes. The marches were never officially named as "anti-Trump," but that is what they were.

This may be feminism’s coming of age, a grand coalition of women around the world, forming a peace movement of solidarity and resistance in the face of the dangerous revolution in global politics. Whatever their differences, women have good reason to stand together in the face of a political tsunami that threatens to sweep away all our fragile and hard-won gains in equality and rights over the past half century.

Yet what are these “women’s rights” and how unifying are they? It has been said that the march was dominated by liberal white women, and that it neglected issues of race, disability and gender diversity. Most challenging for some was the conflict between the so-called Pro-Choice and Pro-Life lobbies that dominate US culture wars.

This was particularly difficult in the debate on whether or not to march in the name of Catholic Women Speak, a highly active and dynamic social networking group that now has nearly 3000 members from around the world. The group seeks to be as inclusive as possible. It does not identify with any single issue, other than the conviction that women have a right to speak and be heard in ways that respect their dignity in any other institution.

Some members identify as Pro-Choice and others are vehemently opposed to abortion under any circumstances. Many describe themselves as Pro-Life as an expression of conscientious objection to all forms of social injustice and violence, including war and abortion.

From this perspective, reducing the numbers of abortions must be a socio-economic as well as a moral struggle, it must address issues of poverty and employment, affordable health care and childcare, and it must fully respect women’s normal agency and rights.

It was announced that Planned Parenthood, which some claim is an abortion provider, was a sponsor of the march. Several American members pointed out that Planned Parenthood fills a gap in the provision of health care to poor women.

(for your comment email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com)
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