Yes, pushing for women’s rights, equal political representation, economic participation and access to opportunities, to be free of gender stereotypes and bias and to be free of violence and oppression remains relevant today as it was hundred years ago when the International Working Women’s Day was established.
For Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (Unity of Women for Freedom) or KAISA KA which believes that women suffer from three-tiered oppression – national oppression which is present in neo-colonies like the Philippines, class oppression and gender oppression; women, along with men must work together to realize a world where women’s rights are upheld and promoted.
A Severely Unequal World
Global inequality has deteriorated to the point that the income of twenty-six billionaires equals the income of the bottom 50% of the world’s population of around 3.8 million people (Global Wealth Report 2018, Credit Suisse). This gap will widen further as we anticipate shutdowns and bankruptcies given sluggish global trade and investment due to the ongoing recession and expected economic crash within the year that is worse than the 2008 recession.
This in turn, will further exacerbate the already lopsided economic and political participation of women worldwide. As it is, only a quarter of women sit at the power table, with a negligible figure representing voices of grassroots women.
Globally, only 2/3 of women aged 25-54 are in the laborforce with many facing limited economic participation and access to economic opportunities as compared to almost 70% of males in the workforce according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 released by the World Economic Forum last week.
Of those that have paid work, almost half of the women earn less than their male counterparts. This means women are valued less in the workplace. And despite strides made in technology to ease the “deadening drudgery” of domestic work, they are expected by society to remain primarily in charge of care work and domestic work, which are often unpaid.
Violence Against Women
The United States remains bent on asserting its unipolar military supremacy in an increasingly multipolar economic arena. On top of trade wars between big power rivals US vs. China and Russia and against EU too, we see it throwing its military weight globally – presently engaged in seven wars from Africa to Middle East and engaged in interventionist activities in Asia, Latin America and Europe, including stationing foreign troops in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world.
In spite of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts. It also calls on all parties to conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, in situations of armed conflict. Abuses continue, and justice-seeking for such remains slow.
This is on top of the disturbing statistic that one in five women experience violence, especially through technology such as cyber-harassment.
Push Back Now
Strides have been made globally to push back against inequality, patriarchy, violence and exploitation but still the challenge looms large as many governments worldwide increasingly lean towards the far-right spectrum, which is inherently anti-women.
In the Philippines, government pronouncements and policies undercut full realization of women’s participation in nation-building with its pro-corporate, misogynist and anti-people policies. It penalizes those who seek to uphold, justice, democracy, and freedom while reward those who have proven their personal loyalty, never mind if they are corrupt or abusive.
We need to promote a culture that values critical-mindedness rather than blind obedience, tolerance rather than hate and discrimination and genuine democracy rather than repression.
We women, along with men as our allies, need to fight for our freedoms. The economic and political empowerment of women will impact greatly in the common struggle against economic exploitation, cultural and political repression, state and class violence and the anti-imperialist struggle in general.
This is necessary to uplift the status of women in society, ensure that women can partake in a peaceful and prosperous society and positively impact in shaping the future generation. Only then can we realize a just and humans society worthy of women.
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