Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I am woman, hear my vote!

Allow me to be political with this blog post.

It’s a few days more before elections and everyone seems to me are in a frenzy. Philippine elections and the drama that goes with it can easily rival the soap operas being aired now. Now I am not a political blogger and it is a topic I try to steer away from because it is not my forte. I will definitely vote on May 13th and even though I am no politico – I will go with the frenzy and campaign for the women’s party list Gabriela.

Gabriela Women’s Party is a sectoral party dedicated to promoting the rights and welfare of marginalized and under-represented Filipino women through participation in the country’s electoral system and organs of governance. It is a sectoral party composed of women 18 years and above, having varied occupations, education, interests, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. The Gabriela Women’s Party seeks to harness the potential, initiative, skills, and leadership of marginalized women towards empowerment, justice, and equality. Gabriela has been at the forefront of legislation that protect and uphold women like the RA 9262 or Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004 and the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

My exposure as a development worker (aka NGO worker) provided me with the opportunity to come face to face with a lot of social issues and being a woman, I naturally gravitate towards those that affect women. While Filipinas are in a far better position compared to women from other countries, we are still at times subjected to gender biases and discrimination. There was one time while working for a male-dominated company, I was introduced to the senior managers and one guy told me after shaking my hand, “Oh, it won’t be so difficult for you. You just have to wear lipstick and high heels and you’re good.” I was flabbergasted and felt sick to my stomach that I went blank for a few seconds. I summoned enough balls to smile and politely answered, “I’ll be more than lipstick and high heels sir, just you wait and see.” I kept it short although right there and then I wanted to give him a lecture on gender sensitivity and why we women have so much more to offer. When I left after my one-year contract ended, that same guy again shook my hand and said, “It was great working with you. It’s a shame to see you go.”

Gabriela Women’s Party, in the spirit of the Filipina’s unbroken legacy of political participation – from the Babaylan of pre-Hispanic times to the Gabriela Silang of today; are committed to uphold the interest of the broad masses of Filipino women and their families; dedicated to advancing the rights and promoting the well-being of women, especially of the more marginalized and under-represented; determined to encourage, develop and harness women’s full potential, leadership and collective creativity.
Gabriela operates under the following principles:
  •  Women have the right to a society where all forms of discrimination and violence against women have been banished;
  • Women have the right equal to men to the land they work on; as well as the right to full and gainful employment and living wages;
  •  Women have the right to participate freely in all aspects of political debates, action, and decision-making processes in the family, the community and the nation at large; as well as the right to fair and non-sexist representation in all social, political, economic and cultural spheres;
  •  Women have the right to fight for basic health care and services for all, especially reproductive and maternal health care;
  • Women have the right to a marriage founded on mutual consent and respect, with equality and dignity, and to adequate support for the rearing and caring of children;
  • Women have the right to fight for children’s basic needs like proper care, nutrition, health, safety and play, protection from abuse and exploitation; access to a national, scientific and mass education which is non-sexist as well;
  • Women have the right to advocate for lesbian and gay rights and to insist that society not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference;
  • Women have the right to assert and protect their country’s sovereignty and national patrimony;
  • Women have the right to a foreign policy that is independent and beneficial to our economy and security as a nation;
  • Women have the right to a government that is truly democratic and representative of the majority.
So on Election Day, May 13, I encourage all Filipinas to head to the polling precincts and cast your votes. Vote for candidates that will truly represent the voice and interest of their constituents. Under the party list, look for and shade number 54 – Gabriela Women’s Party List. Don't just take my word for it, visit their website to know more about them.

Ina-Tay, Leia and Gabriela congresswoman (and my former professor in Ateneo de Davao) Congresswoman Luz Ilagan