September 30, 2023

Women are not “just women.” They can be half women and half men or women with balls.
This March, we honor women, their vital role in democracy, and their continuing struggle for gender equality in the political and economic arena. As we celebrate International Women’s Month, we commemorate the first effort towards securing women’s right to vote which we are enjoying today. It has been almost 85 years since the birth of women’s political rights when the President of the Philippine Commonwealth Manuel Luis M. Quezon signed women’s suffrage into law on Sept. 17, 1937.
As more women organizations and networks arose, more women have become capacitated and empowered to go beyond their traditional roles. Women today are becoming more educated and more convinced of their rights, thus firmly acknowledging and embracing their roles in the higher levels of decision-making in government. Women are getting better now in tackling and pushing for more women to enter the realm of politics. They are consistent in demonstrating heightened knowledge and appreciation of gender issues, both political and personal. Their awareness could pave the way for their more dynamic role and active participation in democracy and in contributing to the country’s economy.
I happened to meet some women of various ages lately because of our coop’s advocacy about voter education dubbed “Pansigedan Hour Plus”, and I asked them randomly on their stand whether women should have representatives in key government offices. Most of the women agreed and their top seven reasons were:

  1. Because women’s voices must be heard, such as on community problems in which we have opinions to share or direct solutions to recommend;
  2. Because women’s rights must be revisited and strengthened for us not to be viewed as weak;
  3. Because women’s fight on the issues of gender-stereotyping, women’s multiple burdens, marginalization, subordination, abuse and violence must be won;
  4. Because women must be equally recognized together with men in decision-making;
  5. Because women deserve equal rights to participate in elections;
  6. Because women must have equal rights with men in employment and in pay/salary; and
  7. Because women’s abilities and capabilities to lead, to manage, and to govern must be displayed for the world to see.
    Above all, women have high hopes that in a male-dominated society, they can live equally and harmoniously with men at all levels.
    Given some woeful conditions of women during campaigns and elections where they are silenced or deprived of their rights, they are challenged to further their awareness and vigilance in combating gender bias at all places and at all times.
    Let the women march for their causes. Let them participate in a fair campaign and let them sit for their children’s cause. (RHE-ANN NGAYAAN-WANDALEN)