By Mary Barby P. Badayos-Jover, PhD
We open Women’s Day 2022 in the Philippines with an almost insane oil price hike that is predicted to continue in the coming days. Aside from the increasing compulsion to reopen businesses despite the pandemic, the Russian unprovoked military invasion of independent Ukraine is presented as justification for such price increase.
Militaristic policies in war and any form of violence have always been part of the fascist patriarchal agenda. From the feudal times up to the present, humanity has witnessed the disastrous consequences of the egotistical male leaders’ thirst for power, territories, and recognition, to the detriment of the ordinary lives. It is indeed baffling how state forces would prioritize the increase of funding for war and killings, rather than invest on peace and de-escalation of conflicts in whatever form. They gleefully revel in the purchase of the latest guns and war machineries, even as they see the hunger of the people they swore to protect.
Who suffers most due to the war-mongering patriarchal agenda? The women suffer the most! Women—the mothers who, in fulfilling their socially ascribed roles, must problematize how to make ends meet in the face of price increases; the mostly female rank and file health workers who put their lives on the line in the ongoing pandemic but were not even given just compensation; women teachers and social workers who are red-tagged as terrorists; girls whose education get derailed due to poverty; numerous women who fall victim to gender-based violence; and the list goes on.
Hence, the next time patriarchal state institutions like the military and police, along with their mostly male politician supporters, insist on spending the people’s money on equipment that breeds war and nepotism, we should remember why women resisted and continue to resist fascism and patriarchy.
While male institutions thrive on discord and power play, the women’s movement throughout history, have fought for the accordance of equal rights for everyone! The women’s movement is activism for all humanity, regardless of age, race, color, sex, gender identity or socio-economic status. The women’s agenda through the years have always countered the violence that patriarchy breeds. Women’s nurturing capacity and empathy have saved humanity many times over, even if these traits have been ridiculed and labeled “weak” by the feudalistic culture. Women have proven their strength to overcome their differences to pursue common goals that benefit all.
The road has not been easy for women as patriarchy put many obstacles along the way, such as the perennial insipid question, “Why do we celebrate women’s day and not men’s day?”, as well as the outright undermining of women’s pursuit of political representation. Yet, the women’s movement, with its varied colors, persist. There is still a lot left to be done, after all, even by just looking at the Philippine’s steady demotion in the global gender gap index.
This year marks the end of the national government’s 5-year theme, “WE Make Change Work for Women” (the “WE” acronym in the slogan stands for “women’s empowerment” while “make change work” is abbreviated MCW, which also stands for Magna Carta of Women). We should ask ourselves then if the outgoing administration has brought us peace and prosperity or instigated more violence? Has it honored and defended the Magna Carta of Women by upholding women’s status and gender justice?
Let us not be disheartened with the macho-fascist obstacles to peace. Women have tightly held on, working tirelessly to pursue equity and equality, long before the UN came up with its sustainable development goals and long before the Philippines declared March as National Women’s Month. Us women will continue to do so, for a world free of discrimination, stereotypes, and gender-based violence; a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive; a world where humanity is valued and celebrated over guns and war machines (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme).
Collectively, we can forge women’s equality and #BreakTheBias.