Updated: Mar 7
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and calling on all peoples and countries to overcome discrimination against women and to protect the human rights of women and to promote gender equality. For International Women's Day 2023, UN Women and the United Nations chose the theme of "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality". However, while recognizing that girls and women should have equitable access to technologies, many groups and organizations, including LINGAP-Canada are continuing to celebrate the overall vision of this vital International Day. As the International Women's Day network stated, "The International Women's Day (IWD) 2023 campaign theme is #EmbraceEquity. We can all challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Collective activism is what drives change. From grassroots action to wide-scale momentum, we can all embrace equity… And to truly embrace equity, means to deeply believe, value, and seek out difference as a necessary and positive element of life. To embrace equity means to understand the journey required to achieve women's equality.” (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About)
LINGAP-Canada is commemorating this event by featuring short inspirational messages on the campaign theme #EmbraceEquity from academics, researchers, community leaders, NGO workers, and government officials involved in women’s rights here in Canada and in the Philippines.
Zaldy B. Patron
Consul General, Philippine Consulate
On the occasion of the 2023 International Women’s Day, I am pleased to share how the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Calgary is in solidarity with LINGAP-Canada and the entire Filipino-Canadian Community in advancing the theme #EmbraceEquity.
The PCG seeks to #EmbraceEquity by recognizing that each person has different circumstances and allocates resources needed to reach an equal outcome. To help achieve the goal of women’s empowerment, the PCG builds sustainable relationships between Philippine and Canadian agencies, academia, and acclaimed professionals, to provide Filipino women with equal opportunities, while respecting intercultural diversity.
Sharing some of our significant Gender and Development (GAD) initiatives, the PCG, through its Online Education Series, helped increase the awareness of Filipino women on their fundamental human rights by improving their access to information on policies, programs, and projects of the Philippines and Canada.
We recently hosted a Kapihan sa Konsulado on 4 February 2023 where we invited five non-profit organizations in Calgary, some of them with specialized programs for women, to inform our community about their social services that the Filipino women can access.
We have conducted several online sessions about the services of the Social Security System and Pag-Ibig Fund and on the Bureau of Treasury’s Retail Treasury Bonds to help our Filipino women become more financially literate.
We also honor and highlight the expertise and contributions of the Filipina women in Canadian society. For instance, the PCG featured one of the notable Filipina experts in Women and Gender Studies, Dr. Glenda Tibe Bonifacio of the University of Lethbridge, author of “Pinay on the Prairies,” during a webinar on 19 June 2020. Dr. Bonifacio talked about the accomplishments of Filipino women in Alberta and Saskatchewan, promoted women empowerment, and discussed gender issues relevant to the Filipino community.
The PCG also had another distinguished Filipina, Dr. Daisy Ann JabidoArtuz, Filipino-Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Alberta Health Services, who was the PCG’s resource person for the webinar “The Blue Elephant in the Room: Understanding Mental Health Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic” on 31 July 2020. Dr. Jabido-Artuz explained the signs of psychological distress and the different stress reactions. Touching on psychopathology, she gave pointers on when one should seek professional help.
Further, the PCG encouraged the Filipino community to submit nominations for the 2021 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO). Two of the five PAFIOO awardees from Alberta were Filipina women - Dr. Bonifacio (Pamana ng Pilipino Awardee) and Mrs. Aurora Dacanay (Banaag Awardee).
The PCG considers #EmbraceEquity as a way of promoting a gender responsive society that is also inclusive, one that overrides differences; a society where every individual, each with rights and responsibilities, has an active role to play, especially amidst the Filipino diaspora in Canada.
This is manifested by the PCG’s social justice efforts by assisting victims of abuse and exploitation through the two webinars we have hosted on the issue of domestic violence, where we had Filipino-Canadian lawyers Atty. Roselyn Bernardo and Atty. Chantal Borja, as well as two officers from the Calgary Police Service, as resource persons on the topics of domestic violence and public safety. We believe that the promotion of welfare of the Filipino women is at the core of #EmbraceEquity.
Realizing that many Filipino internationally educated nurses (IEN), most of them are women, are in Canada, but are unable to practice their nursing profession, the PCG has been advocating and lobbying for the recognition of their credentials with the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan since January 2021.
The PCG was successful in having the Philippines-Alberta MOU on the Recruitment of Filipino Nurses signed on 6 October 2022. This MOU has provisions for the extension of bursary or financial grant for the Filipino IEN, the potential delivery of Alberta’s nursing bridging program in PH through accredited institutions, and the government-to-government recruitment of Filipino nurses. This MOU will benefit many women Filipino IEN who are already in Alberta and even the women Filipino nurses who are still in the Philippines but are planning to come to Alberta. As the Alberta Government has recently announced, each IEN in the province can get as much as $30,000.00 in financial grant, which is also a fulfillment of a provision of the Philippines-Alberta MOU.
Through these various programs, projects, and initiatives, the PCG is one with all communities seeking to close the gender gap and make #EmbraceEquity a reality for all.
Executive Director, Changing Together for Immigrant Women
This year, Changing Together - A Center for Immigrant Women Association joins LINGAP – Canada in recognizing and celebrating women’s incredible accomplishments, while also acknowledging the ongoing need to advocate for women to have equal access to opportunities in all areas of life. We are reminded that most women are still not there, that there is still so much work to do to achieve gender equality – a fundamental human right that continues to be unfulfilled for many.
The campaign for equality for women started over a hundred years ago, and while much has improved and changed since the 1900s, the battle for full gender equality continues and has become more relevant and urgent than ever before. Half of the world’s population are women, yet they are gravely underrepresented in the policy and decision-making that affect their ability to enjoy equal access to education and to opportunities for financial and personal success.
At Changing Together, we recognize that when immigrant and refugee women and girls have little or no education, accessing opportunities in the labour market or in acquiring new skills are very limited. It is our mission to provide them with the necessary tools and supports to help them overcome the legal, social, and economic barriers that prevent them from attaining their personal goals of personal and financial independence, and to help them reach their full potential.
Lucenia Ortiz, Ph.D. (Human Ecology)
Co-Founder, Movement for Active and Responsible Engagement (MARE) of Filipino Women
Once again, we celebrate International Women’s Day with the global theme of #EmbraceEquity for 2023. The Movement for Active and Responsible Engagement (MARE) joins LINGAP in reminding everyone that our journey towards real equity for all women around the world has yet to reach its fulfillment.
In Canada, Filipinos are now close to a million people and nearly half of them are women. We see many Filipinas working in offices, hospitals and clinics, stores and in many homes across Canada. We now have a Filipino Member of Parliament, successful business entrepreneurs and leaders advocating for social justice issues.
Yet, even as we hold up half of the sky, Filipinas along with many racialized women are experiencing inequities in career opportunities, wages, and economic mobility. MARE recognizes the wealth of potential of Filipino women in Canada in civic participation and leadership. We believe that Filipino women are inherently caring and resilient that enables them to feel injustice, act with compassion, and show remarkable resilience in adversity. These are the qualities that MARE seeks to foster and strengthen among Filipino women in Edmonton so that they can be potent advocates for women’s rights in the broad context of a just society.
Joy Awardee, Soroptimist International
Who am I? I am a woman - privileged to celebrate International Women’s Day, 2023.
This year's theme- Embrace Equity is a MUST-HAVE! How about Equality? “Equality is the Goal, while Equity is the Tool to Get There”. In other words, equity means creating an inclusive world for everyone. With this in mind, women must not be the sole advocates for GENDER EQUITY, we must FORGE ALLIANCES with EVERYONE (individuals or groups) for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.
Soroptimist International Club of Edmonton is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls access to education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. Soroptimist International has given me the honour to receive the JOY AWARD - TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN GIRLS & WOMEN.
Canada has been identified as a source, destination, and transit country of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour. Statistics Canada reported 3,541 incidents of Human Trafficking between 2011- 2021. These trafficked girls and women became victims of prostitution, escorts services, pornography, stripping, exotic dancing, massage parlors, labour exploitation, sex services on internet, and so on and on. THIS ACTIVITY NEEDS TO STOP! All Government agencies, social institutions, businesses, and people who are aware of human trafficking of girls and women have the responsibility to report such activities for preventative action and the rescue and protection of the victims.
With LINGAP's leadership we can all become ADVOCATES and VOICES as WE WORK TOGETHER TO MOVE FORWARD to EMBRACE GENDER EQUITY!
Thank you very much! Maraming Salamat Po!
Mila Bongco Philipzig, Ph.D.
Author, Children’s Books
I am honoured to be part of LINGAP Canada’s observance of International Women’s Day 2023 on the theme #EmbraceEquity. Each year, in commemorating International Women’s Day, we celebrate the advances in gender equality and women’s rights movements, but also remember the pain and struggles causing this day to be instituted at all. And we must clearly understand that we still need to keep pushing for real equality, for equity of all.
A feminist writer G.D. Anderson states: Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.
I am a writer. I write to participate in changing the way the world perceives women’s strengths, courage, talents, capability, and dominion. I write to show that a woman’s fear is not necessarily a weakness, her failures not necessarily endpoints, and her struggles can give rise to shared successes and inspiration. In my experience, and in my stories, very often, when a woman succeeds, she is rarely alone – she brings others along, paves the way for others to succeed as well. Enabling paths and expanding the sense of possibilities for success for others align beautifully with embracing equity. Such stories are the ones I hope children from a very young age can be exposed to - a world where all voices are heard, myriad perspectives are told, all colours are seen, and our differences are appreciated for their beauty in creating a tapestry of life that is truly multi-dimensional and accepting of everyone.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
Every year on March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day. The day is dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. It also marks a call to action for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The origins of International Women's Day can be traced back to the mid 1857 when a spontaneous demonstration staged by New York City women garment and textile workers protesting low wages, the twelve-hour workday, and increasing workloads, was dispersed brutally by the police.
Over a century later, the women today are not better off as we experience the global depression and poverty. The majority of the world's women face the most oppressive and exploitative of conditions: low wages; part-time and casual jobs; lack of benefits; dangerous workplaces; lack of protective laws; the dwindling quantity and quality of social services and safety nets.
Almost half close to a million Filipinos in Canada are women. They have been coming since the 1960s as economic migrants finding for a better job and opportunities. They came under the different guest worker programs that has put our women in a precarious and vulnerable situation. Like many migrant workers, these women care for Canadian children, harvest our food; work in precarious jobs that no Canadian wanted.
The Filipina migrants are part of the thousands of resilient migrant women that continue to Fight for better working conditions, challenge gender stereotypes, call out racism and discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out inclusion. Migrant women are fighting for equity.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, we must as migrant women push back against exploitation and abuse. On March 8, we must unite with other women and working people and together, push back against attacks on our livelihood and wellbeing. Let our victories in the past, both big and small, be the spring, the source of our strength, for us to continue the fight for genuine change and equality. We will build solidarity across genders, across nations and strengthen the working-class movement building a better world for all working people.
Long live the women workers of the world!
Long live International Women’s Day
On behalf of COPAA (Congress of Philippine Associations of Alberta), I join LINGAP-Canada in celebrating International Women’s Day. Members of COPAA are associations and NGOs whose visions and missions facilitate Filipino-Canadians and other supportive Canadians interested in promoting programs and activities affirming Filipino identity and contributions in Canada’s multicultural society, fostering mutually positive cultural and social relationships with Filipinos in the Philippines. Through their varied programs in arts, music, social education, political action, sports, learning the Filipino language, religion, healthcare, media, support for Filipino migrants and migrant workers, senior citizens’ well-being, and contributing to humanitarian relief in the Philippines, COPAA members help to promote gender equality and equity.
The very active organizational roles played by women in their associations or NGOs show that Filipino-Canadian women are empowered, assertive, and confident leaders, workers and volunteers in the Filipino-Canadian community in Alberta. Girls, boys, and young women and men are also equitably engaged in the activities of COPAA member associations. Examples include the gender-inclusive representation in Saranay’s rondalla orchestra, Karilagan’s dance performances, other cultural and social programs, and LINGAP-Canada’s focus on themes of building a peaceful, just and sustainable Philippines and Canada, such as their co-sponsorship of celebration of International Women’s Day, Human Rights Day, and the International Day of Peace concert where songs also highlight gender equality and equity.
COPAA will continue to enhance our commitment to the rights and empowerment of girls and women, and we also call on all Filipino-Canadian and other Canadian men, boys, and all gender identities to act in solidarity with girls and women to build a world where women and men are co-equals in building a culture of peace.
Virginia Cawagas, Ed.D.
LINGAP-Canada joins many organizations and communities globally to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day by advocating the theme #EmbraceEquity. While gender equality is gradually being achieved through the struggles of countless women and many men acting in solidarity, many challenges still remain.
In 2010, the Philippines ranked 9th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, a measure of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, health and survival of women. In the same report, Canada ranked 20th. The Philippines is the only Asian country included in the top 10 ranking which was dominated by the Nordic countries such as Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Fast forward 12 years, in the 2022 Global Gender Gap Index Report, the Philippines went down to rank 19th and Canada down to 25th out of 146 countries.
Filipino women continue to face discrimination and all forms of inequalities, whether in their homeland or in their new host countries as migrants, citizens, or migrant workers. In Canada 10 times more women have fallen out of the labour force since 2020; 76.8 cents average earned by full-time working women for every dollar earned by a man; 160 women and girls were killed by violence in 2020; and so on.
Globally, women still face challenges and barriers to full participation in society due to embedded patriarchal social, cultural, economic, and political structures that continue to discriminate them. Women and girls are more likely to be the poorest and marginalized in rural and urban poor communities and excluded from decision-making either in the economic, social, or political arena.
As a peace educator, I have engaged in teaching and learning programs that view gender as integral in all human and societal relationships and structures. Hence, schools, universities and nonformal or informal institutions (e.g., media, family, church) all need to promote gender mainstreaming which means the development of non-sexist curricula, the use of non-sexist language, the inclusion of policies for equal opportunity, outcomes, and empowerment for girls, women, and other gender identities, and raising awareness and commitment to overcome patriarchal norms found in diverse cultures.
On a positive note, through the inspiring advocacy and political struggles of individual women and women’s organizations worldwide, progress has slowly been made in overcoming gender-based inequalities. Hopefully the much-needed gender equity can be reached in our lifetime!
From the Philippines
Atty. Kristine Rosary E. Yuzon-Chaves
Executive Director, Philippine Commission On Women
The Philippine Commission on Women is one with LINGAP-Canada in celebrating the International Women’s Day. Its theme, “Embrace Equity” propels us to imagine and work towards a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
International Women’s Day is an opportune time to celebrate the achievements, contributions, and progress of women and girls around the globe. We honor the generations of trailblazing women and girls who have helped to build our nations and shaped our progress. While we celebrate the accomplishments of women in society, we must also bring attention to some of the barriers that continue to limit their advancement. We must also recognize that in order to adequately address these pressing challenges, we must focus on the needs of women and girls, and ensure they are empowered participants in all sectors of life.
Because of gender disparities, women have been presumed to be notetakers rather than industry experts or decision makers. Today, it is important for all to take note that around the world, women are policy makers, scientists, engineers, economists, civil rights advocates, entrepreneurs, ambassadors, heads of agencies, public servants, and more.
Women need to be at the decision-making table, contributing to the development and implementation of laws and policies that affect our lives and the lives of our families. The experiences and perspectives that women bring are different and equally important to those of men, and our countries deserve to benefit from the leadership of women and the innovative spark women add to prosperity.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. How can we embrace equity? We can start by reversing gender biases and stereotypes. We need to act now to close the gap and have our next generation of leaders be more inclusive and diversified. We need to ensure fair treatment, access, equality of opportunity and advancement for everyone while also attempting to identify and remove the barriers that have prevented women from fully participating in all spheres.
On behalf of the PCW, we would like to convey our deep gratitude and appreciation to LINGAP-Canada for igniting people’s personal and social sense of responsibility in order to build a more peaceful, caring, and just world, and to promote solidarity for each other’s well-being and challenges. Thank you for promoting and highlighting the powerful impact of combining individual efforts toward a collaborative and united thrust for an inclusive Philippines and Canada. We welcome your support in elevating women’s access to employment, appropriate working conditions, access to economic resources and full participation in decision-making.
We hope for your continued support in our commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality, for us to secure the improvement of the lives of women all around the world. Together, we will continue to help them realize their full potential and achieve social, economic, and political empowerment. Empowering women isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do. When women succeed, nations are safer, more secure, and more prosperous.
Throughout my tenure as the Executive Director of the PCW, I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting women from all walks of life who have displayed strength, determination, and commitment to their families, communities, and country. Thank you for all you do in charting a course for a prosperous women-empowered community for all.
Happy International Women’s Day!
La Rainne Abad-Sarmiento, DPA
Municipal Mayor, San Narciso, Zambales PHILIPPINES
I am grateful for this privilege of joining the LINGAP-Canada community in the celebration of International Women’s Day 2023 on the theme #EmbraceEquity.
As most of us probably know, the international celebration of March 8 for women was a result of painstaking organizing efforts by women workers in Europe and North America as factories employing women flourished in the early 1900s. Early on it was celebrated in February but then in 1911, an international group has set it on March 8 from then on. Each year, women leaders and workers recognized the STRENGTH in being organized and their newly found POWER by working together.
Women’s marches in various cities took up the issues of women long hours, bad working conditions in the factories; and for PEACE in the midst of men leaders’ preparations for World War I. These expanded into family conditions and relationships in their homes. Then, in March 25, 1911, a factory burned in New York City where most workers were women Jewish immigrants and Italians. The factory premises were locked and so 140 workers perished in the fire. This tragic incident added fuel for women to push for policy reforms and improvements in the WORK PLACE.
Here in the Philippines, during the term of our first woman President Corazon Aquino, it was made into law, more than thirty years ago, that the whole month of March is devoted to celebrate women’s achievements; remember the lives and heroism of women leaders, peace makers, women’s rights champions; and commemorate the struggles we have gone through to pave the way for a more gender-fair and gender inclusive society. In succeeding years, mainstreaming Gender and Development perspective in governance became part of government processes.
I have been part of civil society groups that fervently pushed for the enactment of laws and establishing social structures to ensure that government programs, policies, and activities are gender responsive and gender sensitive. As we look back to the past four decades of advocacy and negotiations, we feel fulfilled and hopeful. Yet, so much more needs to be done. But we have started the process.
In our municipality of San Narciso, we are slowly putting into place programs to change boys’/girls’ and women’s/men’s mindset about gender relations in the family, community, and in the local government. By series of training and education sessions about gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is done by incorporating learning modules in trainings like Disaster Preparedness, Farming Methods, and training for Barangay Violence Against Women and Children’s Desk Officers, and training for Day Care Teachers.
We are inspired by the International community, such as LINGAP-Canada, for your persevering spirit to carry on the advocacy for equality and peace wherever bias/discrimination and conflicts arise and persist.
My warm regards to you, fellow champions for peace and gender equity/equality.
In the Philippines, we say MABUHAY KAYO! (Long Live).
Executive Director, GZO Peace Institute
Isang mapagpalayang Araw ng Kababaihan! Maligayang bati isa mga kaibigan sa LINGAP- Canada!
We at GZO Peace Institute with our partner the WE ACT 1325 network, or Women Engaged in Action on 1325 are glad to celebrate this day with some good news!
Soon we will consolidate our Civil Society Women’s Agenda on Women Peace and Security! This is through a process of 22 community discussions involving 228 women (and a few men) plus Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao validation workshops involving a hundred more women from sixty organizations.
Perspectives of women, especially from conflict areas, including internally displaced women, indigenous women, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI and youth will be asserted in dialogue with duty bearers from government. Through this process, a new National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security or NAPWPS up to 2028 or beyond will be drafted. More important, it should be implemented!
Even as we are involved in the new NAPWPS formulation, WE ACT 1325 members are also lobbying for gender provisions in the Bangsamoro Electoral Code and Local Governance Code. These are proposals meant to strengthen women’s political participation and decision-making in the Bangsamoro autonomous government.
Women are also persistently working to support transitional justice and reconciliation. We are lobbying for mechanisms and actions that deal with the past of historical injustice and grave human rights abuses by ensuring the Right to Know, the Right to Justice, the Right to Reparation, and Guarantee of Non-recurrence.
We thank you for your solidarity on this journey to sustainable peace in our country. Mabuhay ang mga kababaihang nagsusulong ng kapayapaan! Have a joyful celebration!
Nina Lim-Yuson, Ph.D.
President, Girl Scouts of the Philippines
President, CEO Museo Pambata
Warmest greetings to LINGAP-Canada from the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) and Museo Pambata (a children’s interactive museum in Manila). We celebrate with you International Women’s Day on March 8 on the theme “#Embrace Equity”.
I write this from a National Girl Scout camp here in Baguio City attended by 135 Senior Girl Scouts (ages 13-19), a first in-person camp after the COVID pandemic, with the theme “Our World, our Peaceful Future”. Girl Scouting is learning through activities, such topics as valuing girls’ lives in a fast-changing world; appreciating our traditions, preparedness, as well as service to others and at the same time being aware of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Girl Scouting has a key role in supporting the development of girls to reach their fullest potential and become leaders so that all gender identities are equally empowered by, valued through, and represented in leadership positions within and beyond the Scouting Movement. Scouting enables Filipino girls and young women to enhance their understanding, capacities, skills, attitudes, responsibilities and commitment to promote gender equity, prevent gender-based violence and contribute as equal partners in building a culture of peace in their daily lives and in Philippine society.
In the educational programs of Museo Pambata, girls as well as boys experience "new and exciting learning opportunities by reliving our rich cultural heritage, assuming a pro-active role in caring for the environment, understanding how the human body works, discovering science through play, imagining what they can become someday, and understanding human rights in a global perspective". The museum therefore also nurtures girls and young women to see themselves as active citizens in creating a peaceful, just and sustainable world.
I congratulate LINGAP-Canada on its relevant activities and events under the leadership of Board and Officers.
Bert Tuga, Ph.D.
11th President, Philippine Normal University
We are all aware of the persistent challenges that women face, including gender stereotypes, discrimination, and bias; from unequal pay and limited opportunities to systemic roadblocks, these things continue to hold women back.
The International Women’s Day is a powerful and poignant reminder of our role in creating a more inclusive and equitable world. It is a great opportunity for us to reflect on our commitment to fight for gender equity and empower women to amplify their voices and tell their stories.
The programs and projects initiated by LINGAP-Canada and its advocacies to raise awareness of the societal issues and realities in the Philippines and Canada related to building peace, social justice, human rights, intercultural solidarity, and sustainability give us the hope that together, we can create a world where women have equitable opportunities and representation in society.
Your dedication and hard work inspire us to act and become active partners to bring attention to the pressing issues faced by women in both Canada and the Philippines by using education as a tool to empower individuals and communities to actively participate and contribute in creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable future by promoting equal and equitable opportunities for women.
The Philippine Normal University, the National Center for Teacher Education is with you in your mission to embrace equity—we stand with LINGAP-Canada in your efforts and we hope to continue supporting your mission in any way we can.
Together, we can make a difference and build a better world for all.
Jasmin Nario-Galace, Ph.D.
Vice President, Academic Affairs
Miriam College, Philippines
I am pleased to know that LINGAP-Canada is commemorating International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 with the campaign theme #EmbraceEquity.
Embracing equity is a central theme in the Women, Peace, and Security resolutions adopted by the UN security Council from the Year 2000 to the Year 2019. The first UNSCR passed, UNSCR 1325, called on Member-States to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in all aspects of peacebuilding: conflict prevention, conflict management, conflict resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction.
Why women in peacebuilding? Women make up half of the world’s population but are under-represented in decision-making processes worldwide, particularly in building peace and promoting human security. They have historically been marginalized politically, economically, and culturally in society resulting to untapped competencies, skills and talents that could, otherwise, have propelled social, economic and political development. Research has shown, for example, that more gender equality boosts economic development and contributes to economic growth.
In the Philippines, academic institutions such as Miriam College has advocacy centers like the Center for Peace Education that work to dismantle the barriers to and create the space for participation not only for women but also for those in the peripheries who are marginalized because of their sex, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status or gender identity.
Thank you and congratulations, LINGAP-Canada for choosing a theme that will help raise the visibility of those in the margins as well as the issues that continue to sideline them.
Let us challenge biases and transform discriminatory practices and policies through education and advocacy.
Together, let us #EmbraceEquity!
Genevieve Balance Kupang, Ph.D.
Vice-Chair, SANDIWA, Network of Advocates for National Minorities Rights
From the Cordillera Mountain ranges, here is greeting our fellow kakabaihan (womenfolk and girls) a dignified and meaningful International Women’s Day! Men-iyamanak LINGAP-Canada hinan nay ay gundaway (Thank you very much, LINGAP-Canada for this opportunity). I feel elated to share my reflection on the role of indigenous women in the Cordilleras in promoting gender equity in the Philippines and beyond. Ina, Inin-a, inan di ili (mother of the tribe), balasang/basang (lady), eng-nga ay babai (young girl) are terms in Kankanaey for females which are a sweet melody to our ears. In our indigenous community, the tribe thrives because resilient women have been significant allies and partners of the gentlemen.
This month, we celebrate the splendor of womanhood, the blessings of the feminine, the diwata, the babaylan, ang kagandahan ng mga kababaihan (the beauty of women)! We express our gratitude to the feminine essence, the achievements of all women who make our society better, livable, and thriving.
Personally, I am blessed to have experienced the guidance, inspiration, and love of empowered women role models who showed me and my community how to be charming nurturers of the tribe, how to be involved in our sacred land’s conservation and protection, how to cultivate empathy for others, how to treat each one with respect and care, how to take pride in our unique culture, and mountain tradition bequeathed to us by our forebears.
To conclude, I would like you to imagine listening with the ears of your heart to this jubilant chant passed on to us by our beloved alapo (grandmother), mother, aunts, “Ay, ay salidummay, salidummay, diway” symbolizing the valour of embracing valour equity.
Founder, WE Act (Women Empowered to Act for Dialogue & Peace in Mindanao)
The Women Empowered to Act for Dialogue and Peace in Mindanao (WE Act) is a small non-registered, not-for-profit organization based in Marawi City. With a team of volunteers, it started its operation after the 2017 Marawi siege helping internally displaced persons (IDPs). WE Act uplifts the lives of displaced families by providing temporary shelters and economic opportunities together with its partners the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Service Philippines, La Salle Academy Iligan, and Task Force Bangon Marawi among others. It supports multiple efforts to empower both men and women affected by the armed conflict and it prioritizes the need for building their capacities through focus group discussions, seminars and training workshops creating various activities that promote community resilience, social cohesion, and conflict prevention to build bridges of understanding and peace in the community.
In the context of the Muslim-dominated Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, WE Act promotes gender equality by ensuring that men are involved in all its activities. Men play a significant role in empowering women. When men understand what the women are doing and or advocating, they will support and even motivate their mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters to participate. Invite men to join in, welcome them, and conceptualise a training workshop that works for both men and women.
More than empowering women to be agents of positive peace is empowering the men to understand and support them. We can only achieve in motivating women to succeed in bringing peace to the communities if our men will recognize the contribution and participation of women in securing sustainable peace at the grassroots level.
Vice Chair for Migrant Settlers
Alliance of the Tri-People for the Advancement of Human Rights (ALTAHR)
Recognition of women’s contribution to the social, political, cultural, and economic spheres remain a struggle where patriarchy and unjust social systems are pervasive. It’s no different in Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Being part of ALTAHR (Alliance of the Tri-People for the Advancement of Human Rights) and the women’s movement provided me an opportunity to be immersed in the grassroots tri-people communities. It gave me a glimpse of layers of oppression and inequality they experienced.
The Lumad women, especially in the Maguindanao provinces where ALTAHR works, have long suffered from insecurity, inequalities, and exclusion. For decades, the Teduray and Lambangian women stood side by side with their men asserting their rights over their identity as indigenous peoples and rights over their ancestral domain. In recent years, armed attacks in their territories have become prevalent as political and economic interests are at play. They lose control over their territories, displaced by laws and policies. These economic incursions to their territories degraded their environment and suffered gravely from disasters such as the October typhoon Nalgae. The women bear the brunt of all the human-made and natural disasters.
ALTAHR stood with the Lumad in these areas through fact-finding and solidarity missions with the aim of making the plight of these indigenous populations be known, lest they be forgotten, by demanding accountability from the duty bearers and powers that be. The Lumad women were not remiss as they constantly raise their voices to assert their rights as women and as indigenous people. Some are red-tagged and labelled as communists with some of their leaders threatened, harassed, and killed. It is the women who steadfastly pursue cases of illegal detention from trumped up charges. ALTAHR accompanied them on these struggles. Its personnel are also vulnerable to the same red-tagging and harassments.
The quest for gender equity is a long winding road for the Lumad women. In the spirit of this International Women's Day celebration and beyond, ALTAHR will continue to stand with them in solidarity.
Founder/Director, Interfaith Center for Conciliation and Nonviolence (ICRN)
As I join LINGAP-Canada and many people worldwide in celebrating International Women's Day, I would like to begin by honoring the significant influence of two women elders in my life - grandmother and mother. My grandfather was killed in the Bauan (Batangas) massacre of civilians in his hometown by retreating Japanese soldiers, bitter over their defeat in the hands of returning American forces. Grandma raised my father and his siblings as a single parent. My mother, on the other hand was married to an intelligence officer, who was captured by Japanese soldiers, near UST and was missing in action (MIA) close to the end of World War II. She gave birth to her second daughter, my half sister, still traumatized by the loss. She was a single parent, raising her two daughters until she met our father ten years after the war. Despite the considerable challenges and hardships, both my grandmother and mother exemplified courage, resilience, assertiveness, responsibility, strength and determination to survive while raising and caring for their children, all qualities reflecting the often under recognized capacities and empowerment of women. Looking back, I am deeply grateful to my mother for not socializing me as a "son" who feels "superior" and deserves more privileges than my sisters.
Today, I believe there is gender equality in my household. As a conscientious person trying to practice nonviolence, I am proud to say I never raise my hand on my wife, son, and kasambahays, but I am mindful that verbal violence also needs to be overcome. Further, in my practice of nonviolence locally, while the often cited icons of nonviolence are men (e.g., Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ), I feel that more recognition should be given to the countless women who are committed advocates for peacebuilding.
Growing up in the wider Philippine society as a male, I initially and mistakenly believed, like many of my peers, that gender inequality exists due to the stronger physical characteristics of men, as shown in sports. However, I now understand that it is rather the patriarchal norms and institutionalized practices in diverse cultures that underpin gender inequality. Patriarchy hence needs to be transformed if women, men and all gender identities are to be equally respected in our world whether each performs roles not for dominance but for harmony and mutual respect, not for privilege but for interaction and caring of each other, but most of all in the spirit of loving kindness to each other.
By inviting me to prepare a statement for International Women’s Day, I am greatly motivated to foster gender equality in my advocacy for nonviolence, conciliation, and peace. I join LINGAP-Canada in commemorating the International Women's Day!
LINGAP-Canada expresses our appreciation and thanks to everyone who has shared messages in celebration of International Women's Day 2023. Their messages reflect the visions and commitment of Filipina/o/x Canadians and Filipina/o/x in the Philippines from diverse institutions, civil society organizations, government agencies, and academia to build a peaceful, just, and sustainable world that upholds gender equity and women's human rights.
We are hopeful that these messages will inspire LINGAP-Canada friends and viewers to act in solidarity with peoples and communities worldwide to fulfill the vital vision and goals of #EmbraceEquity!