Gone are the days when she was forced to be blind. Gone are the days where she was pushed to choke in silence. She was harassed and tortured, as not so much value was given to her. Slits and cuts surrounded both her body and soul. However, this time, never again will she be frightened with the shackles of the stigma that condemned her. Stereotyping halted her, yet she rose-up storming back, free of her will – WOMEN.
Maria Claras: Through Ups and Downs of History
We, Filipinos, have a deep respect for women that was rooted from our pre-colonial ancestors, that is why we regard our Nation as “Inang Bayan”. Sadly, years of colonization tainted this beautiful culture that we have. From the Spaniards who belittled women; who brought us the fixated “ideal” kind of woman, “Maria Clara” to us. They inculcated upon us that women should be religious and submissive. That is why during the Spanish Era, women were banned from handling high political positions and from participating from any political activities.
A light for a more independent women was seen when the Americans landed in our land, women were given a more liberal treatment as wider set of opportunities in education and career were opened for them, giving them access to handle higher positions in the society. The blooming path towards a more liberal treatment and a much wider acknowledgement in the society suddenly crumbled into pieces when Japanese took over during the 2nd world war. The arrival of the Japanese colonizers was considered a nightmare and one of the darkest moments for the women in the society. This is evident in the case of Malaya Lolas, wherein they recounted how the Japanese armies systematically and repeatedly raped, beaten and abused women.
Since then, women struggled to be recognized and treated equally with men, not only in the realm of politics but also in academe, religion and other distinguished fields. Everything continues as the needs in the society differs and more efforts are being given to reach the equality, they all dream of. In the end, equality can only be attained if respect and acknowledgement for both genders will be more prioritized rather than comparing them.
The past often shows us how much belittling and maligning women have undergone. From women treated as sex slaves, as mere “ownerships”, not given a chance to lead, – as worthless living things whose only purpose is to bear a child and do household chores, these dark experiences ruptured and drove them to eliminate such horrors. It is crystal clear how women fought the battle concerning the rights and freedom that they deserve. But still, this clash is yet to cease.
Now, still, we can often hear and see concerns regarding women’s right deprivation and women not getting equal treatment and opportunities in various fields of life. Such include politics, business, societal roles, and other domains of the community where one must play a particular character and pushed to do the norm. These don’t just tell us, but rather shout at us how cruel it is to be in a cage of delusions and glimmering inhuman misconceptions: false equality in terms of positions, possessions, and privileges. Really, this is a green-light for everyone to fight against these ever-problematic patriarchal catastrophes.
Mothers. Aunts. Sisters. Women. These people often are scapegoats of gender stereotypes, being labeled as individuals who are only meant to do kitchen responsibilities – an ironclad typecast that seems to still cripple among various countries. Such regions were again charmed with their gender traditions and cultures. Such areas were eyeing blind on reality’s context – gender is not always the basis for prowess. Also, some often regard them as people who can’t handle several positions that are conventionally performed by men. However, these are huge lies. Women today are more than just what society dictates them to be. Women leaders all-over the world continue to stand up straight and confident in doing numerous jobs and works, even surpassing the productivity and efficiency of their gender counterparts. This is a vivid proof that women have might and power to utilize in contributing to the progress of the many. Also, many are doing significant initiatives in hurdling the dilemmas of women’s rights and independence, which is somehow a good indicator of the world’s status in terms of equality. Women today are way far more potent and expressive than they were before – oppressed and strangled from becoming better individuals of society. Such changes brought about by the advocates of women empowerment may be deemed significant, as it created a collective urge for other women to do the same thing in recoiling from different unexpected threats brought about by both historical and socially- derogatory impression.
March, a month dedicated to all women in the entire world, celebrates women as active contributors to the claim holders of development, as aligned with their theme “We Make Change Work for Women.” This theme is anchored with what has been said earlier – that women stepping-up is a beacon to a more inclusive and mature world open to diverse kinds of workforce. This time also is an excellent opportunity for each individual to strive for genuine equality and stand tall along with the women, especially those who had long-been experiencing domestic violence, harassment, and abuse. Nevertheless, this does not mean that this season will only be the time to speak up. Each time must be taken advantage of for us to heighten women’s strength and dignity and to delete the pigeonhole on our skins.
It is good news that women’s participation in any aspect of work has gradually increased, but this does not mean complete success. The real thing that would turn all these into good feat is the society’s acceptance and the total disappearance of women aggression and other related violence attacking the feminine. At the end of the day, women empowerment is not just a simple melodrama, but a very relevant issue that must be given attention with at least all possible costs.
Voice it Out!
“I want to correct the misconception of the society that we are ‘JUST’ women. I want to change their notion that women are not capable of doing what men can do. We are more competitive in today’s generation and all aspects of life. We all can showcase our inner beauty and strength; that our capacity is beyond what people think. I will continue to strive in promoting women empowerment and continue to inspire and touch the hearts of many. We are not JUST women, but we are women! Lastly, I will make the society believe that what men can do, women can do better!!” says Katrina Capili, a young, aspiring advocate of women empowerment and equal rights by joining beauty pageants. By entering such contests, she aims to concentrate on being every women’s voice. These words clearly state the positive mindset of women in the 21st century and how dignified they are today.
These actual words are critical gauges on how Women, primarily, Pinays, act regarding such issue.
Though women are still the ones performing domestic obligations, it is undoubted that there is still a considerably significant improvement in the status of women’s equality in terms of rights, liberty, and actions. This opportunity is also an excellent prospect to challenge our government officials and the entire human society to act not just according for the sake of a particular group, but for the betterment of every living. We must not be puppets controlled by mere societal norm dictations, but free individuals guided with the notion of righteousness and prosperity.
Let us surf along with all women, let us storm back, and fight for what owes to be given- RESPECT.
Art by Xia Xinjie