Exactly eighty-two years ago today, Filipino women emerged victorious in claiming their right to vote in elections. While the call for women’s right to suffrage has long been achieved, the ultimate goal of attaining gender parity in political leadership positions still has a long way to go.
Data from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) revealed that for the past elections, Filipino women continuously outnumber male voters. Out of 61,843,771 registered voters for the 2019 National Elections, 31,816,812 (51.45%) are women. These numbers, however, fail to disprove the fact that women still represent the minority in politics. Of the 43,688 candidates for the national and local elections, only 8,782 (20.10%) are women.
On the occasion of the 82nd anniversary of women’s suffrage in the country, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) reiterates its call to push to new heights women’s meaningful participation and voice in the elections. Today is an opportune time for women to take an active part in the electoral process by looking for candidates and political platforms that articulate women’s agenda.
The PCW likewise emphasizes the necessity of levelling the playing field for women in politics by providing them access to resources and political machineries. By doing so, women shall become confident in seeking public office and inspire them later to become effective leaders whose caring nature fosters deep concern for the citizenry.
Let us eliminate the tale-old stereotypes that politics is a man’s world. Both women and men are equally capable of transforming communities and igniting positive changes that benefit all sectors in society.
Electing an official is not the end goal here; it is ensuring that governance is inclusive and gender-responsive. This can only be done when elected officials acknowledge that women and men have differential needs and commit themselves to address such strategically and sustainably.
Women and men alike must carefully reflect on what they truly need and become empowered in choosing the candidates who commits to address these needs.
We can only move forward as a nation if we choose leaders based on their competence, honesty, and track record in public service, be it in the local level or the national level. Let us put an end to the politics of personalities, patronage, and payoffs which have led to corruption and the abandonment of people’s needs. Let us be wise and learn from our past mistakes of electing undeserving candidates whose motivations are grounded on self-aggrandizement and greed. It is our duty to vote responsibly and conscientiously.
Our votes reflect our morals and shall dictate our future. May we always be reminded to never compromise our rights in exchange for a meager amount of money. For true progress, which we have been longing for, is never impossible if we only strive to do our part and remain loyal, neither not to a particular personality or a political party, but to our beloved country.