COVER STORY

Notes on the Filipino woman today

Academics, advocates, and experts weigh in on different issues affecting the Filipino woman today, from divorce to reproductive health.

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Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Women from all over the world have long been fighting for their rights. Through grit and collective action, women were able to achieve the rights for suffrage, labor and equal wage, education, and many other fundamental rights that a human being ought to have. And yet, until now, there are still gaps that need to be addressed and fixed.

In the Philippines, domestic abuse — where the victim is often the wife — is considered as an ‘epidemic’ considering how it often happens, yet we remain as one of the only two countries without a divorce bill to help victims escape dysfunctional marriages. A law on reproductive health and rights may have been signed in 2012, but there is scarcity in concrete actions that would benefit women’s reproductive health, one of which is the non-existence of safe abortion in the country, leaving women with poor choices when discussing unwanted pregnancies.

Filipino women are also left with the longstanding debate on sex work, as to whether it should be viewed as a valid and empowering form of labor for women. Our current legislation for women’s rights and welfare continue to neglect trans women and queer women, who had to carve their own paths in the local women’s movement and continue to lobby for ample representation and equal rights in working towards a more intersectional practice of feminism. Women in the Philippines, as well as in most parts of the world, still lack what should be the most basic right: to freely choose for themselves, in every aspect possible, without the risk of harm and judgment.

These, among the many other issues women face today, prove that the state of Filipino women is continually in flux, especially at this point in time. There is also a greater need to always forward intersectionality when fighting for women’s rights and advancing the women’s movement.

Before the International Women’s Month comes to a close, CNN Philippines Life brings you several articles, both old and new, that tackle some of the most pressing, even controversial issues concerning Filipinos today. This feature seeks to spark conversations among readers, in hopes of destigmatizing concepts that need to be talked about — because normalizing these topics is a necessary step to better understand and truly promote intersectional women’s rights in its entirety.

Illustration by FRANCES ERIDIO

Why the passage of the divorce bill will help Filipino women

Without an accessible and affordable option to separate from an abusive husband, some women are left with no choice. The absolute divorce bill hopes to protect all women stuck in loveless, abusive, and dysfunctional marriages, and provide a way out. Read more here.

Photo by SAMANTHA LEE

Why lesbian rights must be discussed in the local women’s movement

“We wanted to be visible and to show that we would like to fight for our rights as well,” explained Giney Villar, co-host of the Tita Tibx Podcast and one of the feminist lesbians who demanded equal rights in the 1992 International Women’s Day march. Read more here.

Illustration by KRISTIENNE AMANTE

Does sex work truly empower women?

While the dominant narrative is how prostitution furthers women’s oppression as it is a result of patriarchal conditioning that sex should be monetized, the debate on the validity of sex work as labor is now highly polarized among women’s rights advocates, with other advocates claiming that sex work is a valid form of labor that helps women reclaim control over their bodies as long as it is consensual. Read more here.

Photo by PAU VILLANUEVA

In Payatas, a sewing facility employs drug war widows and orphans

The community initiative Project SOW aims to provide rehabilitation and livelihood programs for left-behind families — parents, orphans, and widows — of victims of extrajudicial killings. Read more here.

Illustration by KRISTIENNE AMANTE

The option for safe abortion is a woman’s right

It’s clear that unintended pregnancy is common in the Philippines, and despite restrictive legislations, so is abortion. Given the failure of our current laws and the long-overdue need for safe abortion, where can Filipino women turn? What other policies and protections are afforded to them? Read more here.

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GUEST EDITED BY SAMANTHA LEE
PRODUCED BY ELIZABETH RUTH DEYRO
COVER ARTWORK BY ISABEL SANTOS
COVER DESIGN BY THE PUBLIC SCHOOL MANILA
IMAGES USED ON THE COVER IMAGE ARE FROM THE WORKS OF FRANCISCO V. COCHING