March is Women’s Month.
During this time of year, we celebrate the achievements of women (the term “women” is inclusive of both biological nature and choice) throughout history and commemorate their continuous battle for an equal future.
Since centuries ago, women have fought for equal rights and representation, such as having the right to vote, the right to obtain equal pay, or having the right to control their own bodies and choices.
Although we have already overcome some of these adversities, there is still a long way to go as patriarchal and misogynistic ideals continue to perpetuate in our contemporary society.
In the Philippines, where patriarchy (or the system of society or government in which men hold power) has long been embedded in our culture since we were colonized by the Spaniards, men are deemed to be stronger physically and emotionally and should dominate women in various fields. Women, on the other hand, are supposed to be meek and dependent on men.
In this kind of system, men are expected to lead the household, have a career, and make decisions for the family, while women should stay home, watch the kids, do the laundry, and be the “caring” wife at the end of the day.
Men can easily get a pass when making comments about women, just as our current president, who reeks of sexism and misogyny, does all the time. But women, whenever they raise their voices to talk about their experiences and sentiments, are called “loud” and many other names just to shut them up.
Even though in today’s times, when a lot of women have stepped up and have chosen to fulfill their own tracks rather than just living under men’s spotlights, discrimination and inequality still exist, be it in the workplace or other sectors of society.
A 2019 study conducted by Investing in Women, found that, on average, male employees in the Philippines earn Php5000 more than female workers. There are more opportunities for men to be at the top of their companies’ hierarchies and earn bigger salaries because they are viewed to have the “strengths and skills”. Men are applauded for doing the bare minimum in their jobs, but women have to work doubly hard to get hired or promoted and are still not appreciated enough whenever they become successful in their crafts.
The same study also revealed that 1 out of 6 Filipino women are still asked about their plans to have children during job interviews, which only goes to show how employers see this as a disadvantage in their work-as if the qualifications and capabilities of a woman would change just because she has kids.
These gender gaps would be better closed or addressed if there were more policies in our government that sought to effectively protect and uplift the rights of women not only in their economic contribution but also in the family, education, health, and politics. However, there are still not enough women in power, especially in politics.
There are numerous challenges faced by women that men will never understand. That is why we need more women to lead us.
We need more female leaders who know exactly how it feels to be disadvantaged. Someone who knows our struggles by heart and has the courage to change and topple the system that has been afflicting us all these years.
After all, “the best man for the job is a woman.”
More than being a mother, wife, sister, and other labels we have grown into, a woman can also be a front-liner, an inspiration, a change-maker, and a leader who is capable of shaping a better future for our nation.
Though the reality is unfortunate for most of us women, we have hope that sooner we can equal the playing field and excel without being constantly subjected to criticisms and discrimination.
In fact, we can even go beyond society’s expectations of us, for as women, we have limitless potential. The victories of those who went before us are reminders that we can always win our combat as long as we work for them, collectively.
Our equal future will be achieved by making sure that our challenges as women are never forgotten, our contributions are always celebrated, and our aspirations are relentlessly pursued.