Robredo: Women are expected to stay silent, but shouldn't fear to speak out

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Vice President Leni Robredo says that while Filipinas enjoy more liberties compared to most women around the world, they are now  facing new challenges.

Speaking at a company's International Women's Day celebration on Monday night, Robredo said more women hold influential places in government and in senior management positions.

But Robredo says it's far from other countries such as Afghanistan, where women who attempt to speak out or take on public roles that challenged engrained gender stereotypes were killed. She adds, there are shocking levels of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.

The Philippines, she says, ranks 7th in the 2016 Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum.

But despite the achievements women have reached, the Vice President says the conflicts women have to suffer are everywhere.

"Filipinas are facing new challenges. We witness how our opposing views are dismissed. We are expected to stay silent even when someone makes our knees and legs the subject of discussion."

The Vice President alluded to President Rodrigo Duterte when he joked about looking at Robredo's skirt and knees, and pointing this out to his men.

Read: Robredo: 'Tasteless remarks, inappropriate advances' have no place in society

"Coarse language and misogyny are expected to be amusing. In social media, fake news, alternative facts, and post-truths are shared. Even when they are vicious and show no respect for gender sensitivity. The digital world which can be a potent tool for positivity, goodness, and world-changing innovations could become an outrage machine used by anyone with an agenda."

Robredo then mentions how her own daughters received threats of bodily harm or rape. She says although mankind has made many advances throughout history, people "must not forget to protect the dignity of human beings and the right of everyone to enjoy the freedoms we have long fought for." The future of the world, she says, depends on it.

The Vice President also recalls how during the campaign, she received various criticisms like she is better off at home, she is just a widow and is incapable of the job at hand, etc.

She relates to the crowd how some women may come to a point where they are forced to choose to either stay at home, stop studying, or shift jobs.

"But we women should never be made to choose. We do not have to allow labels of society to define how women should be. In my journey, I have witnessed that when women are liberated from fear and self doubt from the shackles of society only they can flourish into themselves."

Don't lose hope

Vice President Leni Robredo says the paths we tread on these times are much more complex and challenging than we thought but tells the crowd not to lose hope and that now is not the time to give up on our endeavours.

"We owe our children that kind of world, a world where a woman does not have to fear speaking the truth. We owe our children a world where gender does not stop her from being who she wants to be. We owe our children a world where women and men do not have to fight but be allowed to collaborate and engage productively."

She tells the crowd to reclaim social media with positivity.

"Above all, may we fully embrace of what it means to be a woman at these times. to bring life to everything that we do and live lives of purpose."