By FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
Most women’s groups worldwide celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) yesterday either by honoring leaders who have advanced the movement, passing legislation, or by examining whether we have indeed narrowed gaps that have existed either in the social, economic, or political realm.
Here, we did all that but we also chose to focus on a concern that had been brewing for sometime now, that is, to protest against misogyny. Led by female activists spearheaded by the Gabriela party-list group, the United Women’s Action Against Misogyny, women’s groups all over the country – Coalition Against Trafficking of Women, Women’s Legal and Human Rights, Sentro, Lilak, Center for Women’s Advocacy, and Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, among others, came together to protest the “worsening violence against women under President Duterte.”
While they celebrated the many gains in the women’s movement, they also cited the abuses that our women have suffered since this administration came into office.
Beyond the issue of impunity and abuses, IWD provided an opportunity for women’s groups and research institutions to examine what needs to be done to support the campaign theme for 2019 – “A balanced world is a
a better world.” How to help narrow the wide gender disparities that still exist, and how to distribute the opportunities – these appear to be among the many challenges which these status reports and survey scan address.
One is a recent worldwide survey which showed that most people believe governments are not doing enough to give women the same opportunities given to men. Fewer than half of the women believe they have the same opportunities as the men. But two-thirds of the men in the same survey think otherwise – that there is equality of opportunity among the sexes.
The Global Gender Report of 2018, according to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive director of the World Economic Forum, states that much needs to be done. It cites’ findings such as: 32 percent gender gap still needs to be closed; the largest gender disparity is political empowerment at 77.1%. Economic participation is at 41.9%; educational attainment at 4.4%, and health and survival at 4.6%. To date, there are only 17 female heads of state, 18% of ministers and 24% of parliamentarians worldwide are women; and only 34% of managerial positions is occupied by women.
And finally, a report on unpaid work in achieving gender equality and overcoming poverty. Oxfam, a global non-profit organization engaged in addressing problems of poverty and inequality recently launched an advocacy campaign, “I Laba Yu,” where it encourages husbands and wives to share household chores and responsibilities, countering the notion that care work is a woman’s job.
Unpaid care work refers to all unpaid services provided within a household – household chores, care of persons, and voluntary community work.
“Women disproportionately carry the burden of unpaid care work. It is about time that responsibility is shared, and that equality should begin at home,” according to Oxfam’s Philippine Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco.
A 2017 survey in Eastern Visayas and Mindanao also showed that women spend an average of 4.5-6.5 hours of household work and 11.5 to 12 hours of elderly or child care which is two to four times longer than men. These long hours prevent women from pursuing opportunities in education, employment, political engagement, and leisure activities. It also has negative impact on their health. The study led to the enactment of ordinances on unpaid care work in Tacloban and Salcedo, Eastern Samar.
We trust that this kind of advocacy, in support of the more marginalized women’s groups, be carried on in the campaign sorties during the next few months. This, especially since political empowerment, appears to be the largest social gap.