What is wrong with words like “brotherhood,” “fraternity,” and “salesman,” and phrases like “founding father” and “director’s girl Friday” and other similar words and phrases in written documents in the judiciary and other government offices?
They are “sexist” words and phrases and should be discouraged in official documents, communications and issuances in the judiciary, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo said in a memorandum order issued to all officials and employees.
Gesmundo’s order last September was a reiteration of the 2006 administrative circular issued by then Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban adopting the 2005 Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 12 to all government officials and employees on the use gender-fair language.
Following Chief Justice Gesmundo’s order, the words “brotherhood,” “fraternity,” “salesman,” and phrases like “founding father” and “director’s girl Friday” should be substituted, among other words and phrases, by “kinship,” “solidarity,” “sales agent,” “founder or founding leader,” and “director’s assistant,” respectively.
Gesmundo’s memorandum order noted that “some of the official documents, communications, and issuances of the Judiciary still use sexist language” despite the seminars and modules, and distribution of manuals and materials to court officials and personnel that consistently advocated the use of gender-fair language.
“WHEREFORE, Administrative Circular No. 82-2006 dated September 19, 2006, in relation to Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 12, Series of 2005, is REITERATED. All official and personnel in the Judiciary are REMINDED and ENCOURAGED to use non-sexist language in all official documents, communications, and issuances,” the order stated.
The Supreme Court (SC) then directed the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) to distribute and post anew the official rules on use of gender- fair language and examples.”
“Being the Court’s judicial education arm, the PhilJA holds lectures for Court officials and personnel on gender sensitivity and its relevance in the Court’s decisions and proceedings, as well as on the use of gender-fair language,” it said.
Last Sept. 16, the SC’s Committee on Gender Responsiveness, led by its chairperson, Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, sponsored a learning session on gender and development integration for justices, judges, officials and representatives of the various courts.
In 2006, the SC issued Administrative Circular No. 82-2006 to support the drive of the government to integrate women’s concerns in its plans and programs, through the promotion of gender-sensitivity in the bureaucracy, among others.
In that circular, the SC said:
“Language is a very essential tool in communication. It articulates consciousness, reflects culture, and affects socialization. Hence, the need to recognize the importance of transforming language from traditional usage to a more liberating one, that which is gender sensitive.
“Since government employees and officials encounter gender issues every day, the use of non-sexist language in preparing letters, memoranda, and other issuances, will encourage them to make a conscious effort to avoid implicit and explicit discriminatory language against women or men.
“This, in turn, will help promote gender-sensitivity in the bureaucracy.”