I am not entirely sure about this post. The topic can be rather controversial and is admittedly, entirely outside of the theme of this blog. Also, I cannot claim any sort of expertise on the subject matter. My personal interest in this stems from the fact that I have daughters who are bright, self-confident, independent, and articulate and there is nothing more that I’d like to see in my lifetime other than my girls achieving their full potential. That said, here is my two-cents worth.
I just read this article in ThinkProgress entitled “5 Reasons Why 2013 was the Best in Human History“. It’s a hopeful sign that the article cites that, globally, overt discrimination based on race and gender is rapidly declining. This trend is just as true in the Philippines in some respects. The World Economic Forum 2013 Global Gender Gap Report cites that the Philippines ranks 5th in terms of gender equality – a higher rank than many developed economies including the United States. GMA News crows that the country is indeed the land of power women. This observation can hardly be disputed in the case of educated women throughout the land. Indeed, the proverbial glass ceiling has ceased to exist in many areas in business or the professions.
Nevertheless, there exists a worrisome dichotomy in the country. Less educated women continue to suffer terribly. From an early age, the duty to bear and raise children is pressed, stressed, and overstressed by their families as their primary – if not sole – reason for being. Once married, they suffer from objectification by their (tragically often) perpetually juvenile husbands. Sadly, these stoic women bear one child after another ad nauseam. It doesn’t help that our Catholic faith appears to frown upon women putting their foot down about going forth and multiplying.
I have no prescriptions and admit that this is a complex social problem. With this comment, I merely wish to warn against complacency in ranking 5th in a well-respected global survey on gender equality. I can imagine that many of us are baffled – if not self-satisfied – that some countries seem to have been caught in a time warp by continuing to treat women as second class citizens without the right to suffrage or even the right to drive their own cars! Before we call attention to the speck in the eye of our neighbors, many of our own women are out there, still suffering silently, ignorant about their rights, and without any prospect of pursuing their own personal happiness. Giving these women access to education should be a good start.