Women’s groups urged Filipino voters to elect for candidates, especially for the presidency, who champion women’s rights.
“Filipino women and the rest of the electorate must vote for someone who did not grow up a thief, a liar, and an enabler or perpetrator of human rights violations,” said Joms Salvador, spokesperson of the group Gabriela.
She said the next president must possess the ability to change “the prevailing social and cultural norms” toward women, which has been “normalized” by the current administration.
“The country has various laws aimed to protect women’s rights, but the problem is in the implementation of the laws and the culture that dictate that women are second-class citizens,” she said.
Salvador said violence against women becomes normal in the eyes of many.
“We can clearly see if the candidate is a champion of women’s rights if he or she has responded and has a progressive stance on issues that affect women,” she said.
‘Walk in women’s shoes’
Two days before the celebration of International Women’s Day, Akbayan party-list highlighted the struggles and issues faced by Filipino women by asking men to literally walk in women’s shoes.
The activity dubbed as “In her shoes: Sa kanyang mga yapak,” Akbayan women members said that by allowing their male counterparts the opportunity to wear their shoes, they create a teachable moment on the need to end sexism, misogyny and all forms of gender-based violence in the country.
“To walk in women’s shoes is not an easy task,” said Akbayan president Rafaela David.
“Everyday we experience and are victims of different forms of sexism, misogyny and gender-based harassment and violence in workplaces, homes, communities, and online,” she said.
“Through this event, we assert that the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality is not confined among women alone,” added David.
“If we want a truly more equal and democratic society, we should embrace one another’s struggles and see the bigger picture that women empowerment and gender equality are the cornerstones of a real democracy,” she said.
Clad in different types of women’s footwear, the men who joined the activity expressed their solidarity and support for the women activists’ various advocacies.
Exposing women to attacks
Judy Pasimio of LILAK Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights said the past six years under President Rodrigo Duterte have exposed women to attacks, threats, and violence.
She said women have been suffering the impacts of the pandemic “because the government failed to show kindness and compassion to the people.”
“Instead of providing support for medical and health needs, food, and livelihood, the government launched a militaristic response to the pandemic and to other equally important social and environmental issues that affect women the most,” she said.
Pasimio said the coming presidential election is a “much needed break from violence.”
Pasimio said Vice President Leni Robredo, the lone female presidential contender, is one of the many Filipino women who has been receiving sexiest remarks “because we are women.”
In 2020, President Duterte made insinuations about where Robredo spends her nights, prompting the vice president to brand him a “misogynist.”
Pasimio said Filipino women need a leader who will not continue the “oppressive legacy” of the previous administration or the “tyrannical regime” of the Marcos dictatorship.
“The most urgent task for us women, for all of us Filipinos, is not to let the return of a Marcos and the continuation of a Duterte in power,” she said, adding that “We must let human and women’s rights win.”