Women in the Philippines are protesting President Rodrigo Duterte due to blatantly sexist views and remarks made during his administration. A march in Manila took place this past July, with roughly 40,000 protestors present to show their disagreement with Duterte and his leadership.
What led to this mass public display of disapproval?
Duterte has ordered soldiers to shoot women rebels “in the vagina,” has joked about raping Miss Universe, and made comments about the woman Vice President’s legs. These are only a few of the sexist statements made by the President during his term.
Additionally, Duterte kissed a woman on stage in South Korea this past June. While the woman involved did not feel as though there was any bad intent meant by the incident, the act was shocking and uncalled for, according to many politicians.
One woman, journalist Inday Espina-Varona, stated, “When he says these things, he’s sending a message to all men out there that ‘I can get away with it, so you can.’”
Though the Philippines is famous for its gender equality, being ninth in the world in terms of gender parity and generally having more opportunity for women, the actions taken by Duterte reveal the injustice that still exists within the country.
The #BabaeAko Movement within the Philippines started this past year in response to Duterte’s administration. The movement, which began with a larger group of women, encourages women in the Philippines to speak up against the injustice they face in their daily lives. One founder Judy Taguiwalo urged, “Women, biological and self-identified, please make your own post,” encouraging women around the country to join in.
But it seems that these actions have little-to-no effect on the president. The Palace claims that Duterte does not discriminate against women. His daughter defends him as well, maintaining that he is not misogynistic.
Although the administration is quick to deny Duterte’s misogynistic ways, women of the Philippines are not letting that stop them from fighting against discrimination.
Mich Dulce, co-founder of Filipina feminist collective Grrrl Gang Manila, has made several statements about how hope can continue for women, even when protests finish: “Young Filipinas are taking up action and recognizing that yes, there is a thread that criss crosses the generations, and that sisterhood is real. More and more people are saying that this can’t be the end of our story.”
Sexism within Duterte’s words and actions has undoubtedly taken a toll on women in the Philippines and revealed that the country still has many battles to fight in terms of equality, despite their stellar reputation around opportunities for women. The protest that took place this past July is proof that Filipina women are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make themselves heard during a time of discrimination.