Women’s duty to themselves, others, next generations
In 1986, March was designated as the National Women’s Month by the late President Corazon C. Aquino to mark our country’s commitment to women’s equality and empowerment—a commitment enshrined in the preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Since then laws have been enacted to ensure that Filipino women are provided services and benefits and do not suffer from discrimination and violence.
Since 2010, the Philippines has steadily narrowed the gender gap. This has given our country the distinction of being the only developing nation to rank among the top 10 countries with gender equality provisions.
The proclamation of the National Women’s Month was inspired by the first International Women’s Day in 1909. The observance calls to mind the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union in New York. In 1910, during the International Women’s Conference held in Copenhagen, Louise Zeitz and Clara Zetkin proposed an annual celebration of a Women’s Day of international character. Women from 17 countries supported the proposal. By 1911, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland were holding rallies attended by over a million women and men.
During World War I and the Russian Revolution, the International Women’s Day served as a movement to protest the war and to seek “bread and peace” in those difficult times. It was on March 8, 1975, during the International Women’s Year, that the United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day. From then on, most countries of the world observe International Women’s Day on this date.
The celebration reminds us of the accomplishments of our foremothers and sisters that brought us to where we are now. The greatest honor and remembrance we can bestow on them is to value and practice the rights and freedoms they fought for us—education, political rights, legal protection against gender violence and discrimination, guarantees of safety, security and wellbeing. These gains have to be expanded to reach others who are still in the margins: poor women, indigenous women, peasant women, women in disaster and conflict situations, women living with disabilities and immune sickness, women grappling with identity and orientation issues, and women living in minority situations as trafficked and migrant workers and wives.
Today, women and girls continue to face challenges that threaten the rights and freedoms that are now enshrined in the Magna Carta of Women. We are called to live and practice these freedoms as our response to our changing and challenging times. It is a responsibility to ourselves, to others and to the next generations:
Respect human rights and women’s rights!
Respect the rule of law and due process!
Eliminate discrimination and violence!
Address the root causes of conflicts and unrest!
Seek peace and pursue it!
ST. SCHOLASTICA’S COLLEGE
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