Thursday, March 08, 2012

A Salute to the Filipina on International Women's Day

"Today is International Women’s Day. The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights. The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the UN's efforts to address social, economic and political challenges across the globe.

Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. Recognizing the critical role and contribution of rural women, the theme of International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty."
- UN Org

Candle Vendors at Basilica Del Santo Nino

Years ago, I have seen my mother single-handedly raised us when our father got sick and could not work anymore. By sheer gut and determination she was able to send us through school notwithstanding the meager income that she earned as a public school teacher at that time. But my mother was not alone. Her mother did the same, made the same sacrifices for her family. And so did a lot of women I knew in my life.

Our women have always played major roles in our social and economic activities. We have this propensity as a nation to care for our families. And our women are taking this seriously. Maybe a bit too seriously! It is not uncommon for our women to put the happiness of her family ahead of her own personal happiness.

In the past, it is not beneath a Filipino woman to work menial jobs if it means additional income to support the family. It is not uncommon to see women working as household helps… street vendors… And over the years, we saw in fact a diaspora of educated women – forced to work as maids or entertainers in other countries, for the sake of a better paycheck. And for this, I take pride in the fact that our women can offer the supreme sacrifice of putting other people's welfare before their own even to the point of swallowing their personal pride. But sometimes I ask – is it worth losing our national dignity?

There have been a lot of grim stories about the plight of our women in other countries. Perhaps our government lack a strong political will to protect the welfare and safety of our women in other countries. Or maybe it is about time to re-assess if the sacrifices of our women migrant workers are worth the economic benefits.

Photo Credits: Lowlight 168; CToledo

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