Her Story: On the Journey of Women in Modern Society By Various People | March 31, 2016
There have been significant changes to society in recent decades due to the rise of feminism. From the success of the suffrage movement in 1920 to the increase in opportunities for women in the workplace and academe, to the deepening of discourse regarding gender norms and whether these still have a place in the present, it can be agreed that the constant fight for gender equality has led to various improvements to the lives of women around the globe.
Last March 8, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the achievements in the social and economic progress of women. In line with this day that started out as a small event in the USA and now held in many nations including our own, the UP SESC EdRes Core asked different students from various UPSE organizations their take on issues related to womanhood. Here is what they had to say:
On the position of women in today’s society and how much it’s changed since before
Women are generally respected in Philippine society but conservative views in the PH about them are primarly because of religion and influence of colonial rule. If you look at history, there was a “binukot” culture where the most attractive girl in the tribe would be hidden from the world since she’s still pristine. She’ll in charge of proliferating oral history and thus was very valuable in the community. Then, there were the babaylans. So Filipino culture in the strictest, women were empowered. But when we were "colonized", that changed. Women weren't given as many opportunities as men. But now, women can vote, women have work, we don't have problems with infanticide, and others. PH is definitely doing better than most countries except for some areas like some outdated laws (i.e. concubinage and adultery). - Sam Cinco (SESC)
I think women, especially in the PH context right now, are very much empowered. I came from a public school and in that co-ed HS, there was no discrimination towards women. In fact, a lot of them were very smart and natural achievers. They had avenues to express themselves and excel. The wage gap has been minimized, women are now able to vote, and Grace Poe is leading the surveys which means that even if she is a woman, a lot of people still think she's capable. Women now also hold managerial positions, etc. - Vincent Ramos (Sidhi)
We’ve indeed come a long way. From the years when women were only regarded as “the other sex, the one who’s intended to marry, stay at home, cook, clean, and take care of kids”, we are now in the age where women are advancing to be one of the most competitive people in society. Throughout the years, they’ve greatly proved that their expertise is a vital element in making the world a better place to live in. (Marie Curie, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, to name a few of these inspirational women.) - Pat Naive (OBEM)
Simply put, all contributors agreed that women are in a better place now relative to before, as seen in their increased opportunities in the workplace, academe, politics, and other fields. There are more avenues for them to be in positions of power, unlike before wherein they were deemed incompetent to handle such responsibilities. However, even if it was unanimously agreed upon that there has been progress in the acceptance of women, some of the contributors argued that women are still facing grave challenges today.
On the challenges women still face in the present:
Women today face different issues: double standards in the media, rape, slut-shaming, forced marriage, oppression under certain government laws, workplace discrimination, among others. If society took steps to treat women less like a sexual object and confine them to stereotypes, then progress can be made. - Anonymous (Ecosoc)
[Women] are seen as less valuable than men simply because they are women. Some women are discouraged for being too opinionated, aggressive, and smart because these do not make them feminine enough. The culture of violence is rampant. They live in constant fear for their safety because they are taught to think this way instead of teaching perpetrators to act properly. Society has also imposed unrealistic expectations which deny women from having a choice with their own bodies. - Hannah Timbol (ETC)
These problems (such as wage gaps, cat-calling, underrepresentation in the legal sphere, among others) last up until today due to many factors. Examples of such factors are patriarchal values that are still left unchallenged, the lack of incentive to improve legislation, and the fact that oppression of women has become institutionalized in many parts of the world. Progress has been made in some regards, but more can still be done to achieve the goal of equality among everyone.
Based on the interviews, all the contributors agreed that there are still certain problems the modern Filipina could face. To them, women still suffer from problems through discrimination and fear of acts of violence such as rape and battery.
On the possible solutions to the challenges women still face:
Given the need for further progress, one contributor proposed:
Society can help women with these problems by increasing awareness about the problems of women as well as helping to debunk sexist mentalities that exist in society; both of these means can be achieved through accessible and quality education for all. Also, I believe that we will eventually grow past our sexist practices because the older generation that fostered these mentalities is starting to be supplanted by a younger, more tolerant generation. I believe the youth will have a big part in elevating the status of women to that of equals with men. - Emil Apostol (UPIC)
To wrap everything up, the contributors had a positive perception on the progress the modern woman has made. They believe that in our country today, there have been more opportunities for women and they have gained more power such as earning the right to vote and to work. However, UPSE students believe that women still have a long way to go in order to say our society has achieved total gender equality. They mention that issues regarding women still occur such as discrimination and rape. In response to this, one contributor suggests that education regarding women’s issues must play an important role in order to further progress.
With all of this in mind, there is no denying that women have played such a pivotal role in society. And, as with all human beings, they are deserving of utmost respect and must be free from political and economic suffering. It is our hope that one day, total gender equality will be achieved.
The Free Market is a blog created by the SESC for both informative articles, as well as opinion pieces, for the consumption of the UPSE community and the public at large. Should you have any ideas that you would want to share on a larger platform, kindly contact SESC Education and Reserach at 09063595378 or message the SESC Facebook Page.
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