[Press Release] Kapangyarihan ng Kababaihan, Women’s Response to Duterte | World March of Women

#HumanRights #IntlWomensDay2021

On the Occasion of March 8 Celebration
Kapangyarihan ng Kababaihan, Women’s Response to Duterte

Photo from World March of Women

Over one hundred and fifty (150) women showed up at Plaza Miranda this morning beating drums, chanting “Kami ay Peminista, Hindi Terorista.”

“The pandemic has shown the strength of Filipino women not only to cope with but overcome the multiple responsibilities we carry and roles we undertake in the family and household, in the workplace, at the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, in various civic and political spaces despite the threat of the virus and while limited by the adherence to health protocols,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo, National Coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines.

On the other hand, Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) and National Coordinator of World March of Women (WMW), asserted that “the health crisis, too, has further unmasked the Duterte regime.” “It has exposed its weak leadership—with its failure in governance and to address the social-economic crises exacerbated by the pandemic,” according to the WMW statement.“It could only cover up this failure with increased brutality through its security forces, as seen in police harassment of ordinary people while those in authority could violate social and health protocols with impunity, in terrorist-tagging that has led to the murder of activists and civilians, in intensified military operations among urban and rural communities, and in repeatedly dismissing women’s capacity for leadership,” added Enriquez.

“Babae and hardest hit ng pandemya. Siya rin ang matapang napumapasan ng mahihirap na trabaho sa frontlines, kahit tanggalanng trabaho ang dala ng pandemya,” said Judy Ann Chan-Miranda of Partido Manggagawa. More women lost their jobs compared to men, 1.7 times more in most countries, according to the International Labor Organization. In a developing country such as the Philippines, where majority of women work in the informal or invisible sector, they have been the most affected, explained Miranda.

“Sa panahon ng ganitong krisis, nakakalungkot na ang perspektibang kasarian ang napagwawalang-bahala. Sa pag-aayos ng mgaproblema ng bansa, mahalaga na tugunan ang di-pagkakapantay-pantay na nararanasan ng kababaihan,” asserted Myrna Jimenezof Sarilaya. It is extremely important that women are not left behind during this pandemic. For us, there is really no better time to get involved and fight for our rights but now,” Jimenez added.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has aggravated other social-political issues in the country especially those affecting and confronted by indigenous peoples.

“The pandemic and climate change have worsened food insecurity among indigenous communities,” said Judy Pasimio of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights). Indigenous women continue to defend their lands and rights, as food providers and defenders of women human rights, against destructive mining operations, industrial plantations, and mega-dams—industries which destroy food sources of indigenous and rural communities, according to Pasimio. “While they face state accusations that they are terrorists or sympathizers of terrorists, they continue to care for their communities and to struggle,” she added. “Amidst the pandemic, they continue to fight,” said Pasimio.

“But opposite the kind of power that the Duterte regime wields—the kind that oppresses and even kills, the kind that steps on the interest of ordinary people, mocks and manipulates legitimate grievances of the public, promotes and entrenches the political and economic elite, and the kind that betrays national interest to connive with foreign interest—is woman power, the kind that liberates from oppression, engenders social-economic and political equality, fights against all forms of discrimination and marginalization, and promotes human dignity,” according to the WMW statement. “Feminism is the kind of power that is not afraid; that emboldens women to be at the frontlines, to be leaders and warriors, to dream, fight for, and realize genuine change,” the grassroots feminist movement added. The action included survivors of prostitution and women relatives of extra-judicial killings, all wearing purple and chanting “Kamingmga Babae, Laging Umaabante.”

“We, women together with a broader labor movement would like our government to invest their energy and resources to develop a robust public employment program,” said Michelle Lising, Chairperson of Sentro Women’s Council. “This is needed to address the deep economic crisis, and such policies should include climate jobs, employment and income guarantees,” added Lising.

The Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) is also calling for more long-term support and protection for overseas Filipino workers and migrants, among whom majority of women have been the most adversely affected by the pandemic and corresponding lockdowns in countries around the globe. “There should be more long-term assistance for our Filipinos working abroad who were displaced by the pandemic as well as policies that will ensure for their sustainable protection especially against abuse of women,” said Ellene Sana, Executive Director of CMA.

“Five years after Rodrigo Duterte got elected as president, women’s situation in the Philippines worsened,” claimed Jelen Paclarin, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB). “Women who criticized Duterte’s blatant remarks and wrongdoings have experienced denigration, vilification, and became the central topic of his sexist jokes to entertain people or divert the issue fired at him,” added Paclarin. According to WLB, with this kind of leadership and pronouncements, Duterte has solidified that stereotyping, shaming, and silencing women is normal and acceptable in our society. “President Duterte continues to disregard the rights of women as guaranteed by the 1987 PhilippineConstitution and their important role in nation-building,” said Paclarin.

Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) Executive Director Liza Garcia also shared the significance of online spaces in women’s rights: “Violence against women committed online have spiked in 2020 by up to 165%, based on our data mapping results: Women are still being targeted with sextortion, non-consensual circulation of intimate images, and sexual threats. Reports of deepfaked videos and photos of women, and disinformation against women human rights defenders also continue to surface.” “These persistent threats impede women from fully exercising online the same human rights that they have offline,” according to Garcia. “If left unaddressed, the gender gaps and existing violence online is tantamount to allowing the ICTs to be just as oppressive as the many forces offline that hinder women from progress,” she said. “Not only is a VAW-free Internet vital to women’s meaningful connectivity, it is also part and parcel of making safe spaces for women and supporting the gender equality that we are all striving towards,” added Garcia.

#BabaeMakapangyarihan was the hashtag used by the group in posting International Women’s Day captions.

Contact Persons : Jean Enriquez 09778105326, Judy Miranda 09175570777

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