Women as agents and beneficiaries of development

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - March 14, 2015 - 12:00am

Melissa works as food handler in a small canteen in nearby college. For the past years, she has been belittled by her husband that she would be forever just a high school graduate. They already have four children. Her husband has no permanent work. So tired from work, she experiences recurrent physical abuse. And for several occasions these were witnessed by their children. For so long, this situation persisted. Afraid that her husband would leave her, several occasions that she had to be absent from work just to give time for bruises to heal. This situation made her ask her employer to support her college studies even if this means no longer receiving remuneration.

Melissa is now on her last year in college. She is no longer afraid that her husband would leave her. With the uncompromising assistance of her parents, she decided to raise her children, sans a husband. Much more she's unafraid what other people would say when they separate.

My role as Marisa in a short film O Sanctissima is also a portrayal of a woman who, despite social illnesses, does everything just to fight for her son, who is half-human, half-monster.  She triumphs over adversities as she provides care to her son despite being the result of rape. Even if it compromises her, she struggles to feed her son through abortion, a way society finds objectionable.

A television host in Lebanon got the last word while interviewing an outspoken guest. When Rima Karaki from the news station Al Jadeed spoke to London-based Sheikh Hani Al Sibai, the discussion was meant to cover reports that Christians are joining IS. Al Sibai appears to be avoiding the question at first, instead giving a long history lesson on the matter. Then a frustrated Karaki asks Al Sibai to stick to the discussion topic, reminding him of their time constraints. : "For your own benefit, I'm telling you that we are running out of time." Al Sibai shoots back, "Are you done? Shut up so I can talk."

After the "shut up" heard around the world, Karaki decides the interview is over, saying, "How can a respected sheikh like yourself tell a TV host to shut up?" The sheikh responds, "It's beneath me to be interviewed by you. You are a woman who …" Not wanting to hear how that sentence would end, Karaki takes back control of her show by saying, "Either there is mutual respect, or the conversation is over."

Accounts of the lives of individual women are critically important because they reveal exceptionally strong role models who share a more expansive vision of what a woman can do. The stories of women's lives, and the choices they made, encourage girls and young women to think larger and bolder, and give boys and men a fuller understanding of the female experience.

With the theme "Juana, Desisyon Mo ay Mahalaga sa Kinabukasan ng Bawat Isa, Ikaw Na!," in support of the 2015 National Women's Month Celebration, the University of Philippines Cebu's Gender and Development (GAD) and Sidlak GRC-7 conducted the following activities: Last March 1 was the launching of Women's Month through Radio Campaign Interview with Bombo Radyo, March 8 – a street dancing parade took place in collaboration with Cebu City Women's and Family Affairs Commission, March 9-13, there was a Film Festival, A Gender Lens on Social Issues. This was co-hosted by Political Science Program.

Enjoining everyone to participate in our upcoming activities as follows: March 18 – Forum on Women in Leadership for Sustainable Development, March 21– Women's Congress in Cebu City Women's and Family Affairs Commission, March 28-29-Halad sa Kababayen-an in Daanbantayan in cooperation with Women's Resource Center of Visayas, March 30-31– Engendering Counseling Perspective with Cebu City Women's and Family Affairs Commission. For more information, you may call Dr. Weena Gera, Coordinator, GAD Office, U.P. Cebu, Telefax: +63 32 232 7475, Email: gad.upcebu@up.edu.ph.

There is a real power in listening women's stories, both personally and in a larger context. Remembering and recounting tales of our ancestors' talents, sacrifices, and commitments inspires today's generation.

Though a large number of women still revolve in the traditional child bearing and rearing world, this has changed tremendously in a new era where our empowered voices are heard and considered, this as we fully realize our role as agents and beneficiaries of development.



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