The women who helped shape Philippine feminism

Photo by Eloisa Lopes/CNN Philippines

By Nads Esteva/cnnphilippines.com – Women’s Month is greeted with the approval of Rice Tariffication Bill, the reclamation projects in Manila Bay and the administration’s refusal to recognize the demands of contractual and underpaid laborers such as the protesting NutriAsia workers and Sumifru plantation workers in Liwasang Bonifacio. All these pressing issues have a crippling effect on mothers. Women, who take on the role of child rearing and housekeeping, are first and foremost farmers, plantation workers, fisher folk, and laborers.

What is the role of feminism in these trying times? Many will say that we are dealing with the same level of misogyny, the same gender stereotypes and exploitation as the women of the ‘70s and ‘80s. “We need to deepen and broaden people’s understanding of what feminism is … For as long as there is violence against women, there is no equality,” says Nathalie Africa Verseles, Director of the Women’s and Genders Studies of the University of the Philippines.

This month, we pay tribute to five Filipinas who helped organize one of the first women’s organizations in the country. According to Africa, “There’s a spectrum of feminism. We don’t even talk in terms of just feminism but rather feminisms.”

“It’s necessary to acknowledge that even if feminists work from different ideologies, all of them are doing something salient to contribute to achieve social justice and social transformation,” says Africa.

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