By REIN TARINAY
MANILA — Two days before the International Women’s Day, women leaders and advocates gathered in a virtual forum to voice out the challenges many Filipino women are subjected to.
“In a patriarchal society that constantly silences women, we need to be able to empower each other,” said Kakie Pangilinan, daughter of Sen. Francis Pangilinan and actress Sharon Cuneta, who has carved a name for herself as an independent artist and a critic of the Duterte administration.
Pangilinan began the #HijaAko, a social media movement against victim-blaming, after she responded to television host Ben Tulfo’s tirade that women, through their clothes, invite sex offenders to commit a crime.
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“The truth is I only articulated it; it was the stories of women that catapulted it where it is now. It is a perfect example of how we are stronger together,” she said in the Gabriela-sponsored event dubbed as #WomenLouderTogether.
Women rights activist Samara Gutoc also highlighted the multiple burdens that women indigenous women are subjected to, highlighting how a thousand days since the Marawi siege, the people have lost their trust in the government.
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Both Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Gabriela Women’s Party looked into the Anti-Terror Law and its impact on critics and the baseless accusations that the government is hurling on people, celebrities and beauty queens included.
“They say only terrorists are against the terror law. We all know that it is not true,” said Hontiveros in Filipino.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party is facing a disqualification case filed by the government’s anti-insurgency agency.
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Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said their legislative record in siding with the marginalized can speak for itself.
Also present was Vice President Leni Robredo, who also highlighted the plight of victims of domestic violence, especially those who were trapped with their abusers due to the lockdown.
“Despite this, we continue to work for change. Women are louder together,” she said.
Influence not mere followers
Pangilinan also debunked that social media influence is not all about follower count.
She highlighted how public discourse is being manipulated online due to paid trolls. This, she said, attempts to hide legitimate concerns of the people, especially on poor government response to the pandemic.
“We all have our own sphere of influence: our friends, families, colleagues. No one else can connect with those people in such an intimate way we can,” she said, adding that people need to speak out “if we are to attain systemic change.”