THE 21ST CENTURY EVES

In the global scale, many have claimed that women had already achieved several level of victories to their struggle for determination, recognition equality, and development in the political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions.  Markedly, the proliferation of various international and local movements, civil society organizations, people’s organizations and individual who are forwarding women’s right and welfare and embracing this advocacy as their struggle are women’s realization and triumph at the present time. However in the distant view, the continuous recognition and women liberation around the world are divergent in most developing countries.

In Philippine context, we see the patriarchal domination embedded to the values and culture of the Filipino, it still defines and shapes the role of women in the family and society. The turmoil in most developing countries is that gender awareness become subtle and confine in the family and society because of various problems to take into consider and adhere such as poverty. This condition will continuously intensify the number of discrimination, biases, abuses, trafficking, and domestic violence among women.

Women constitute slightly more than half of the Philippines population. Their roles become more visible and significant in the family and society in general. Women perform both productive and reproductive roles. Presently, their contribution to the economic development of the Philippines is more than two third. As what Isabel Allende, a Chilean-American writer said “although women do two-thirds of the world labor they own less than one percent of the world’s asset”.  Many women today are now participating in the labor force in response on the so-called globalization. The increasing number of women in agriculture and domestic migration which result on the important role in keeping the Philippines’ economy afloat because of consistent in sending money to their families in the Philippines. And yet, the domestic workers’ significant contribution, remain least acknowledge as labor force for economic stability. Domestic works remains unrecognized as real work because of society’s notion on what constitute ‘work’ such that is something, is paid, and creates surplus value. There are most cases of maltreatment, illegal recruitment and human trafficking among domestic workers particularly women.  Additionally, the proliferation of young women in the service sector service where more than half or 68% are women and the majority (85%) are contractual, most of them are under minimum wage earners.

Women participation in decision making remains ambiguous. According to UNDP Report during 2005, women’s representation in legislatures in third world countries is only 15 percent. Way back time, most countries women are not recognize and legitimate to vote or to hold any governmental positions but this notion was gradually vanish when continuous persistent of Feminist movement in their determination of women’s participation was heightened around the world.  This provides an opportunity to the liberal democratic countries to response the call of women’s assertion.  But in most developing countries this still linger this traditional notion in the representation of women in political structure and process.  As a result, male domination in the government hinders the women’s participation.  Also only few women are elected to represent the women sector or get elected in the presidential candidacy because of gender biases of male leadership and there was not enough increase in the number of women participant in government activities especially in decision making process. There are still cultural-bound practices that limit the participation of women in decision making.

Another reason that hamper the participation of women in most  developing countries like in Burma, South Sudan and Philippines particularly in Mindanao was continuous armed conflict of the Moro people to the government in the Mindanao that brought thousands of lives, damages in the property and displacement of the civilian, where women and children are the most vulnerable civilian in the conflict to the extent that there are unrecorded cases of women recruitment in rebels group, harassment and killing.

However, the society does not see the women have crucial role in pacifying and mediating the conflict, for instance the involvement of Moro women in peace negotiation between the Moro Liberation Islamic Liberation (MILF) and Government of the Philippines (GPH). They are part of the monitoring body in the decommissioning of arms as part of the normalization.

On the other hand, the support and acceptance of western countries in the struggle of LGBT (Lesbian, Guys, Bisexual and Transsexual and Transgender) to their recognition are increasingly emancipated by the western people. However, in the Philippines and other developing countries, the notion concerning LGBT is not fully emancipated and recognized by the state, church and society. They are still victim of offshoot marginalization and discrimination among the dominant structure.

Despite of gender confinement and biases in most developing countries, there are persistent efforts and initiatives of the feminist movement and civil society organizations in involving community and grassroots in forwarding gender equality such as the global movement on ecofeminism as an alternative framework in solving the gender problem and climate crisis.

The struggle of Eve’s race has intensified due to the bounds set by the culture especially in Asia. This is the reason why women still fight for an identical stand in the society. The world may scream that it has already accepted that women can equal to men. But the truth is, the journey for equality is still a long way to go.

May these efforts will serve as guidepost to the community to become aware and empower, to gradually cease the discrimination and biases towards women and LGBT; and to have a framework in forwarding Gender equality and Political Participation.