March 8 is International Women’s Day.
I remember the years when I worked and lived in Dubai, riding a bus was a lot comfortable compare here in the Philippines. Women have specific seats inside the bus, separated from men. They are not allowed to occupy the seats reserved for women as well as sitting beside a woman is a big no, and it’s the rule men need to follow when taking a bus. Not only in their public transportation, there’s a lot of establishments and situations where women are given priority and much respect. And as an expat living and working in that kind of environment really gives me an assurance for my safety. As a Muslim country, United Arab Emirates conforms women’s rights to their Islamic Law. And there’s more beyond that law which anyone who wants to visit the country must learn.
Here in the Philippines, women are also given respect and treated right, but not in all situations. If it comes to gender, Philippines has one of the smallest rates of gender disparity in the world. It promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment. The society became aware of the equal rights between each gender. Women’s recognition of their role and importance in the nation are evident in different aspects like in politics, education, justice, economic and health. The government positions already achieved a 50-50 gender balance. The government also promotes women’s empowerment through different programs. There are also some organizations intended to promotes and protects women’s rights.
On the other hand, there are still challenges exists in protecting the rights of women. Poverty in the country is a big issue and it is the main reason there are still more, not only women, who lacked education and access to productive employment. Another sensitive issue degrading women’s dignity is the abuse. Everyday, sexual abuse among women and children are always seen in the news. Rape, sexual assault, harassment and violence, in all of these crimes, girls and women are mostly the victims. Most of these incidents happen inside their homes, where they thought they are safe. And the sad truth, justice is hardly achieve and sometimes there’s some kind of victim blaming.
Improvement is badly needed to uplift women’s dignity. The government and society needs to view the big picture regarding women’s rights. Sometimes, women, especially those who are weak are being mistreated and took advantage of. Yes, there are women who already conquer the world of men, equalizing their rights and achieved more than men can do. But, there’s women on the other side of the wall who still suffer discrimination and violence, mistreated and still unheard.
We all need an environment where we can ride a bus or any public transportation comfortably without being mistreated, walk on the street safe even at night, have a home safer without being abuse by our own family and a life free from any kind of abuse, streotype and violence. Respect, proper treatment, be heard and ending the violence against women, that’s all we aspire more than anything.