Monday, March 8, 2010

Woman, how far have you gone?

More than 150 years ago, a protest against injustice toward women had a Declaration of Sentiments penned in America, saying, ‘the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward a woman.’

Little progress was made since then, if at all. But the United Nations’ admission on its publication The World’s Women 1995 that men and women live in different worlds with different access to education and work opportunities and in health and leisure time, encouraged many States to pass laws to protect the rights of women.

Nonetheless, laws are not capable of changing hearts, from which injustice and prejudices are rooted. While the legislation, often aimed at stopping sexual exploitation of children and women, is founded on purest intentions, it is in itself, ineffectual.

Laws, mostly inadequate, do not prevent violence. What does is when cultural and social values—usually based on deep-seated tradition—change. For instance, in Middle East, tradition dictates that women should be used by men, rather than loved. They should work than being cared.

Unless men start to change their perception, a woman will continue to have no voice, with no rights, and with little amelioration to her situation. Must I say that the Philippines is among the countries that had an awakening?

Hardly. But it is getting there. In politics, we had our first female president by the name of Corazon Aquino. The second, which is incumbent, may not be an epitome of a good leader, but had somehow produced evidence that slowly, respect for women’s rights is established.

In sports and entertainment, women are given the opportunity to lead and excel in many countries. But this does not imply that women have succeeded in their fight for women’s right as there are still more work to accomplish not only in our country but in Africa, Asia and some parts in Europe as well.

Education must start at home. Men should learn the best way to treat women from their fathers. Unless an immediate and concerted action is initiated by all, hardly can peace deign on us.

Today, I am one with Gabriela in pursuit of advancing women's right. Today, I join the celebration of International Women's Day.