By Samira Gutoc
When 2019 Miss Universe Miss Zozibini of South Africa was asked about what to tell young women these days. She answered: “I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time, not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labeled women to be.”
The student and environmental activist Greta Thunberg is another inspiration. She is named by Time magazine in 2019 as one of the 100 most influential people and the youngest individual Time Person of the Year.
At a young age, she dares calls the men leaders of the world to put their foot down on climate change. Very timely indeed as Australia was besieged with a new year bushfire that is still engulfing their vast forests and killing hal a billion of animals as of this writing.
Their viral statements brings women leadership to forefront.
2019 was a great year for strong-willed women. Many of the young women in particular are doing great work to break barriers and help uplift as many as they can. I am particularly concerned with women on minorities, many continue to dream of being recognized in their society for instance in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Thousands graduate here by every semester, every year, many applying for jobs but there are just few available , for instance there is only ONE CORPORATION for Lanao and Marawi’s 1 million plus population
The group called SPARK has supported women fight battery and violence. In this field, I cite the efforts of Maica Teves and her team in bridging the gap where many women are forced to be silent. SPARK launched gender equality campaigns ie Pride , RESPETO Naman last November in time for End Violence Against Women and Don’t Tell Me What to Wear campaign among others.
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I have met many women doing great work in The Outstanding Women in the Nations Service (TOWNS) , ABS-CBN’s Chiara Zambrano waded through bullets covering the Marawi siege, Carmina leads a group to provide students scholarships.
Muslim woman Amina Rasul is former Youth Chairperson of the NYC and leads the Islam and democracy movement in the country . She was recognized by the United Nations Development Program as N Peace awardee 2019 for her civil society work. She has worked to facilitate the organizing of the otherwise unrecognized and shielded Muslim religious women, many of them wearing black.
In the Bangsamoro government are many women who are contributing positive inputs in forging lasting peace, drafting governance codes for the poorest region.
We remind that gender equality is not just about fighting discrimination. It is not just about participation ie giving slots to women in the boards of companies and GOCCs etc, PNP , Army enabled by law and resolutions such as the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 empowers women to be part of peacekeeping and security.
Men are key too in making women empowered.
We remind that men must understand gender relations as a matter of policy. When I sat as Member of the Multi Sectoral Advisory Board, we reminded the Commanding General to help institutionalize promotion of women to leadership ie generalship .
Gender and Development (GAD) activities must primarily target men to understand women and their myriad issues. We need the men to lead in gender awareness. At home, men must help remind the boys about a culture of peace and non-violence. It doesn’t help that games dominate their waking hours, such can foster attitudes of dominance and aggression , a culture of competition instead of harmony.
We must all attempt at strengthening gender relations which encompass family relations. So when POPE reminded to set aside the cellphones and talk during meal times, let us make this a reality happen in every home and everywhere.