In the latest Global Gender Gap Report, it was found that the Philippines is the most gender-equal Asian country. It ranked 8th among 149 countries worldwide with a record-high score of .799, which indicated that almost 80% of its overall gender gap has been closed. The reality, however, is that only a few can realize how important this is to all—not only to women.
Gender equality, they say, is a utopia.
Most of the time, women are the ones to lead in achieving women’s rights. It’s because women directly experience the everyday fear of being harassed and objectified, the demoralizing feeling of being silenced, and the overall exasperation of having been oppressed.
“Time and again, people think that the fight to achieve gender equality will only benefit women—because they are the ones championing the advocacy at the front, ‘di ba? But if you look at the bigger picture, the cause is a struggle of both sexes,” said Mitch Ruiz, a Public Relations professional and one of the allies of women’s rights and gender equality.
The National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) of Philippine Statistics Authority even found that 14% of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years old are victims of some form of violence since they were 15 years old. Another study also found that 76% of women and working mothers in the Philippines still experience workplace discrimination.
These data only make it kind of ironic to claim that the Philippines is among the most progressive countries worldwide in terms of gender equality, as the study concluded that violence against women is still widely prevalent.
“You see, women live dangerously every day. There are issues of rape, misogyny, and violence, to name a few. Men experience gender-specific issues as well—especially rigid gender norms assigned to them at birth and expected from them as they age,” Mitch explained.
This goes to say that not only women suffer from the existing patriarchal society we are in today. Even men and people of various genders are affected due to the prevailing oppression caused by those in power—the oppressive men. Therefore, their role in bettering the culture and protecting women and the LGBT people is more possible with their male privilege being used for social good.
Another professional from the field of Advertising, Sebastian Cruz, also noted, “Here’s the tea: men, as the those who hold power and dominance in this patriarchal society, are greatly responsible for women’s struggles.”
He mentioned that the gender roles and stereotypes associated with both men and women can be easily get rid of if only men can also be allies of women’s rights and gender equality. The question is, is it enough to idealize gender equality and a violence-free environment without the intervention of our government?
Mitch Ruiz said: “Gender equality is good in theory but nearly impossible in practice. To achieve this, you have to cross the issues of politics and power.”
More lawmakers must seek to empower and protect ALL women.
Perhaps it’s unknown to most, but there’s an existing law called Magna Carta of Women. It’s a comprehensive women’s human rights law that “seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino women, especially those in the marginalized sector.”
The law amends that all Filipino women should have the same equal rights as men in terms of employment, military inclusion, special leave privileges, and various gender and development programs.
Despite this, some people still need the education to be more receptive of the idea of a gender-balanced world. Even Sen. Sonny Angara, one of the champions of Magna Carta of Women, advocates for full implementation of the law in order to protect our Filipino women. However, even some Filipina lawmakers would rather choose to impress their idols and become fake allies of equality instead in order to gain more.
“Lahat naman tayo ay nag-aasam ng pantay-pantay na karapatan at balanseng mundo. Literal na maraming inaabuso, sinasaktan, tinatanggalan ng hanapbuhay, at pinapatay dahil lang babae sila… Sa tingin ko, tayong mga mulat, lalo na ang mga kabataan, ay hindi na dapat isipin pa ang kanyang kasarian bago ma-offend o maapektuhan… Napakaraming bagay sa mundo ang hindi gagana nang maayos at hindi maisasakatuparan kung wala ang mga kababaihan. Laban dapat natin itong lahat,” said Garem Rosales, a recently Broadcast Communication graduate who’s among those young men who push for a gender-balanced society.
The existing gender development programs and laws are indeed in need of more support and implementation. We are still yet to achieve complete equality for both men and women as the patriarchal society only favors those who act based on the oppressive culture which our society is designed.
“It’s not just an issue of women, but of men. They should be our partners to achieve a gender-equal society,” Mitch further explained.
Our goal must be to give our future children, across ages and genders, the protection and fair treatment under the name of the law. For this to be achieved, why not challenge ourselves to outrank other countries as the most gender-equal country by calling out more men to participate in advocating for expanded and full implementation of anti-discrimination for women and for all?