This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Ramon T. Ayco August 2006
I.Introduction The weather was bad with a slight shower of rain and thunderstorm. A young girl was running hurriedly,
gasping for her breath because she was being chased by a serial killer-rapist. Suddenly she turned into an alley, but it was a dead end. So without wasting time, she finally did what she had to do. She took a small white stone in her pocket, swallowed it and with a thundering voice she shouted: “Darnaaaaaaaa!” Meanwhile, the “serial killer-rapist” felt so glad because he knew that the girl he was chasing entered a dead-ended alley. So as soon as he entered the alley, he suddenly shouted “Huli ka!” (“You’re captured!”). But he was surprised because now the girl he was chasing was wearing only bra and tights. So what could he say but “Wow, so beautiful, so sexy!” Yes, the girl he was chasing was really so beautiful and sexy. But he is dead now. That was the end of his monstrous career because the girl he attempted to victimize was no other than “Darna,” the WOMAN SUPERHERO of the people. The last “Darna,” a TV series in Channel 7, was played by Angel Locsin, one of the most popular young stars in the Philippines today. Now Angel Locsin is again playing the role of another WOMAN SUPERHERO by the name of Sabina in a tele-fantasy series “Majika” in the same channel. Here, Sabina is not only a woman superhero but WOMAN SUPERHERO OF WOMEN. She is destined to change Saladin, the world where they live, the world where only men are leaders and women are like those in the old feudal society. Stereotypically, the women do all the house chores and prepare everything that are needed by their men. Women in Saladin have many prohibitions like eating together with men; they have to wait until the men finish eating before they can eat. And the worst thing is that women are not allowed to use magic. Those are good examples of a woman becoming a hero or superhero. But these are only in fantasies. In reality …, yes in reality … what? Hey, in reality women can really become heroes like Gabriela Silang, Melchora Aquino etc., don’t they? In reality, women can also become the top leaders of their country. From 1945-2005, there are already 35 women who became Presidents (including Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines) and 39 women who became Prime Ministers in their respective countries all over the world. (See Annexes I and II). From 1945 to 1995: • • The number of sovereign States having a Parliament has increased seven-fold The percentage of women MPs worldwide has increased four-fold
The record average level was reached in 1988 with 14.8% of women MPs. Year Number of Parliaments % of women MPs % of women Senators 1945 26 3.0 2.2 1955 61 7.5 7.7 1965 94 8.1 9.3 1975 115 10.9 10.5 1985 136 12.0 12.7 1995 176 11.6 9.4
Women in Philippine Politics According to the latest gender disaggregated data, women constitute 37.9-million (49.6%) of the 76.5 million Filipinos as of May 2000. Almost 15.5-million are between ages 15 to 40 reflecting a young female population. However, while women constitute nearly half of the population, its status in the Philippine society is still characterized by sharp contradictions of obvious gains, on one hand, and glaring inequalities on the other.
One can find both major advancements for women’s role and graphic gender inequality in specific areas of the society. The Human Development Report 2002 (UNDP) revealed that 35% of Filipino administrators and managers are women -- which is one of the highest in the world. Additionally, approximately 17.2% of all the legislative seats are occupied by women and 2/3 of professionals and technical workers are women. This puts the country’s Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) of 0.523 as the highest in East Asia.
Table 2: Percentage of Women in Government, Congress, and Judiciary Field Women government personnel by levels of position (CSC, 1999; * NCRFW, 2002) First level Second level Third level Cabinet (Head of Department) Women in government elective posts (COMELEC, 2001;**House of Representatives, 2003) Senate Congress Governor Vice-Governor Board Member Mayor Vice-Mayor Councilors Incumbent women judges in Philippine courts (Supreme Court, 2001) 07.7% 19.0%** 19.5% 13.0% 16.5% 15.6% 12.4% 17.4% 21.4% 34.6% 71.9% 34.8% 18.2%* Percentage
The Philippines appears to be ahead of its neighboring countries by having 2 women presidents already: Corazon C. Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. There is also a perceptible increase in the number of women elected into government posts. In the House of Congress, there was a slight increase in the number of women senators, making representation 12.5% (3 out of 24). In the lower house, there are 27 women congress persons, with 93 male ones. A significant development in the house of congress is the entry of elected party list congress persons who represent certain sectors such as women, the urban poor, cooperatives, etc. There is now a sectoral representative for women, chairing the house committee on women. Here, legislations concerning women are pushed and discussed and participation by women, not only from the government but also from non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations, are fully encouraged. There is an incremental increase of women in various fields of public service. Table 2 shows that there are indeed many gains in the appointment, election, and career advancement of women. While comparative figures are not available, the conventional wisdom and general observation is that women have become more present in the many fields of governance. These presences are sometimes consolidated into ad hoc groupings of women. Women judges have a formal national organization while a network of local women officials are grouped under the so-called “4-L” which stand for League of Local Lady Legislators. We have to count also under this category the existing women’s party as an interface of politicians and civil society activists. However, the most prominent
“semi-politician’s” group (or some would say future politicians) is the Congressional Spouses Association Inc. which gathers the husbands and wives of the Representatives. For all intents and purposes, this is a women’s group that has made some impact on women’s issues like in the creation of women crisis centers around the country. Another significant venue for women in politics is the local government unit (LGU). Women have utilized many ways of participating in local decision-making. Since women organizations are spread-out all over the country (either as non-governmental organizations or people’s organization), they are constantly included in normal consultations on local issues and concerns. As NGOs and POs, they can participate in the local development council if they are accredited. Some cities even have a Women’s Code or Charter that governs the promotion of women participation and the development of programs and services. To further elaborate the women’s presence in the local level, the Department of Interior and Local Government has recently consolidated the women dimension of the local governance. Recent data showed that so far some 90,714 or 25% of the 354,387 total positions in local government units, from governors to Sangguniang Kabataan chairpersons are occupied by women (DILG Website, 2003). Specifically, out of the 354,387 total elective positions, 90,714 positions are occupied by women which includes 16 governors (out of 79), eight vice governors (out of 79), 97 board members, 16 city mayors (out of 114), nine city vice mayors (out of 114), 182 city councilors, 225 municipal mayors (out of 1,493), 144 municipal vice mayors and 1,731 councilors, 5,350 punong barangays (out of 41,917), 64,142 sanggunian barangays, and 18,794 sanggunian kabataan chairpersons. Records also showed that a greater number of women are serving in appointive positions as barangay secretaries and treasurers than men. The DILG chief said a total of 49, 173 women occupy appointive positions wherein 23,983 serve as barangay secretaries as against 15,988 male, while there are 25,190 female barangay treasurers compared to 14,794 male. While the men, to a large extent, still control the political careers of women; there are some instances also where women have carved their own niche and in some cases, have outshone men as leaders of this country. One example is in the continuum of civil society activism and public administration. Women’s agenda are also integrated in party platforms and even in legislative hearing and consultation. This gives a semblance of integration of gender issues in formal politics. The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women works on the national policy of gender mainstreaming. Both houses of Congress have committee on women that investigates women issues to aid legislative actions. Gender Budgeting (GAD) also has been used widely for gender sensitivity training and on women projects like day care centers and women shelters but some initial assessment also showed that they are sometimes used as “campaign kitty” of the politician’s wife, diverted to social activities like ballroom dancing and even to cover for salaries.
II. Women’s Problems While it is true that there are some women who are not just successful but even became topnotchers or
number one in their field, that doesn’t mean that women are already “liberated”. The path to women’s liberation is still very far. It is deep rooted from the very beginning of the history of humanity. Historical Root In the first stage of human society the leaders of communities were women, specifically the mothers. That was what we call the matriarchal system of society. The word matriarchy derives from the Latin word mater meaning mother and the Greek word archein meaning to rule. There exists a different term for ‘women’s rule,’ namely gynecocracy, sometimes referred to as gynocracy. Matriarchy is distinct from matrilineality, where children are identified in terms of their mother rather than their father, and extended families and tribal alliances form along female blood-lines. For instance, in Jewish Halakhid tradition only a person born of a Jewish mother is automatically considered Jewish. Hence Jewish descent is passed on from the mother to the child.
Matriarchy is also distinct from matrilocality, which some anthropologists use to describe societies where maternal authority is prominent in domestic relations, owing to the husband joining the wife’s family, rather than the wife moving to the husband’s village or tribe, such that she is supported by her extended family, and husbands tend to be more socially isolated. Matriarchy is a combination of these factors; it includes matrilineality and matrilocality. But what is most important is the fact that women are in charge for the distribution of goods for the clan and, especially, the sources of nourishment, fields and food. This characteristic feature sees every clan member dependent beyond matrilineality and matrilocality and grants women such a strong position that these societies are now considered matriarchal. Some traditional matriarchal societies have been found to exist still today in every continent except Antarctica. Several of them have been presented by scholars and indigenous speakers from still existing matriarchal societies at two World Congresses on Matriarchal Studies. The first one was held in 2003 in Luxembourg, Europe; it was sponsored by the Minister of Women’s Affairs of Luxembourg, Marie-Josée Jacobs, and organized and guided by Heide Goettner-Abendroth. The second one took place in 2005 in San Marcos, Texas/USA, it was sponsored by Genevieve Vaughan and again led by Heide Goettner-Abendroth. According to researches, in the early stage of human life, what they only recognize as parents are the mothers, there was yet no concept of father. This belief can be linked to the historical “inevitabilities” which the nineteenth century’s concept of progress through cultural revolution introduced into anthropology. Friedrich Engels, among others, formed the theory that some primitive peoples did not grasp the link between sexual intercourse and pregnancy. They therefore had no clear notion of paternity. According to this theory: women produced children mysteriously, without necessary links to the man or men they had sex with. When men discovered paternity, they acted to claim power to monopolize women and claim children as their own offspring. In a more comprehensive scope, this matriarchy is one of the principal features of the stage of society they called in political economy as primitive communalism. In this stage of society, agriculture is not yet known specifically planting and caring of animals. The people just gather the fruits of nature. They are nomadic, wondering from place to place just looking for foods. Then comes a time when some groups of people learned how to culture edible plants and animals. This knowledge of agriculture brings big changes in the way of life of ancient people. They ceased to be nomadic and settled permanently in definite territories which they began to claim as their property. Nomadic people don’t keep food for reserves. They consume all the food they’ve found in one place. After that, they will look again for foods in some other places. So, almost all their times were spent in searching foods. When people developed agriculture, they began to produce surplus products which they kept as reserves. Keeping surplus products for reserves gave them free time from economic production. More reserves means more free time. Free time gave them the opportunity to create and develop other aspects of life like politics and culture. But the development o different groups of people were uneven. While there were some groups who discovered and developed new ways of living, more groups of people stayed in old nomadic way of life. They knew nothing about territorial property ownership. What they knew is that all fruits of nature in any place belong to everyone. Whoever found it can take it. They still cannot comprehend and cannot recognized territories with permanent settlers doing agriculture as livelihood. So trouble arise that resulted into fighting whenever nomadic people came to any territories of permanent settlers and start gathering foods there. In the early fighting, the contending groups just kill their enemies. But there comes a time when some groups, especially the agriculturists, began capturing their enemies and use these as slaves in their economic production. At first, the permanent settlers developed their armed groups just to defend their territories and livelihood. But as soon as they realized the value of slaves in their economy, they began to develop their armed groups for defense into an army of conquerors to capture more slaves by conquering not only nomadic people but also other permanent settlers as well. As the history of the development of human society unfolds, small fighting grew bigger and bigger into battles and wars. Battles and wars primarily to gather loots and slaves with corresponding expansion of the controlled territories and level of rules or the victors: from tribe to kingdom; from kingdom to empire.
Conquering to gather loots and slaves means wiping out the whole conquered tribe or community. Adults were hard to train as slaves as well as heavy burden as prisoners, so they have to be killed. Usually, the children and women (virgins) were the best captures to become slaves. The children are the easiest to train as slaves and the women to be the slave wives of the conquerors. Records of these events in history can be seen even in the bible like the following: Numbers 31: The Holy War against Midian The Lord said to Moses, 2 Punish the Midianites for what they did to the people of Israel…”
So 9 The people of Israel captured the Midianite women and children , took their cattle and their flocks, plundered all their wealth, 10 and burned all their cities and camps. Then the Lord says to Moses, 25 … count everything that has been captured, including the prisoners and the animals. 27 Divide what was taken into two equal parts, one part for the soldiers and the other part for the rest of the community. 28 From the part that belongs to the soldiers withhold as a tax for the Lord one out of every five hundred prisoners and the same proportion of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. 29 Give them to Eleazar the priest as a special contribution to the Lord. 30 From the part given to the rest of the people, take one out of every fifty prisoners and the same proportion of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. Give them to the Levites who are in charge of the Lord’s Tent.” Moses and Eleazar did what the Lord commanded. The following is a list of what was captured by the soldiers, in addition to what they kept for themselves: 675,000 sheep and goats, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 virgins 36-40 The half share of the soldiers was 337,500 sheep and goats, of which 675 were the tax for the Lord; 36,000 cattle for the soldiers, of which 72 were the tax for the Lord; 30,500 donkeys for the soldiers, of which 61 were the tax for the Lord; and 16,000 virgins for the soldiers, of which 32 were the tax for the Lord. …”
The primitive communal societies were totally transformed into slave society, and the matriarchal system to patriarchal system. In this stage men fully realized that they have contributions in women’s conception and child formation. By this, while practicing polygamy, the ruling men strongly imposed monogamy on women primarily to make sure who their children are. Slave wives who break this rule will surely die just like what happens to the slave wives of Odysseus in Greek mythology. Slavery was commonly practiced throughout all ancient history. The most prominent slave societies were those of the Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, and the Ottomans. At the height of slavery, slave women as well as all other slaves, can be sold just like any ordinary commodities. Women slaves for sale were displayed naked in the markets. In slave society began all the slavist rules and beliefs for women like: women must be submissive to men in all of the times; women are just assistants of men; women are here for men’s pleasure; wives are properties of their husband so he can do to them whatever he wants; women are weaker than men; and many others. Until now even if the slave societies have gone a long time ago, people in every part of the world, especially in the lower levels of society, still follow this slavist rules and beliefs for women. As a matter of fact, the more impoverished the people are, the more intense are women problems.
Contemporary Women’s Problems Slave society has long been gone but women problems originated here still persist in many different ways until today. 1. Effects of Globalization In an economic point of view, globalization is the integration of local and national economies into an increasingly interlinked world economy—the global economy. This world/global economy is one that both serves and promotes free and unregulated markets as primary arenas of exchange for goods, services and more recently, of money itself. This market is dominated by economic, financial and political institutions such as multi- and transnational corporations, financial speculators, investment firms, and governments of countries such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Japan, who have long benefited from the opportunities for political and economic gain that free market capitalism provides and therefore, have also systematically supported it. The roots of economic globalization as we know it today go back many years, to the period immediately after World War 2. Since then, this integration and inter-linking of diverse economies into a huge global one has been brought about by a number of different processes and mechanisms. For example: • The expanding role of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank, IMF, ADB, the WTO, and the imposition of structural adjustment policies, sectoral reforms, etc. • The internationalization (or globalization) of production • Increased dependence on export led economic growth • Formation of regional free trade zones and common markets such AFTA, NAFTA, etc. • Formation of transnational entities such as European Union, ASEAN, Mercosur, etc. • Growth and expansion of multinational and transnational corporations • Influence of foreign governments in determining domestic policies in recipient countries through the use of Official Development Assistance (ODA); this must be viewed in light of the trend that over the last 10-15 years, financial flows from richer to developing countries show a decline in ODA with a concurrent increase in private capital in the form of foreign direct investment and portfolio investment. • Neo-liberal economic and political reforms which began with the creation of the Bretton Woods Institutions, but intensified and gained speed with the proliferation of regional development banks, regional economic entities such as ASEAN, APEC, etc. Economic globalization intensified at the end of the Cold War, when the collapse of the centrally planned economies of the Soviet Union and its allies no longer offered a counterweight to the free market economies of the West. Two particularly notable characteristics of globalization are how widespread it is, and the speed with which it has become the dominant international economic, political and cultural force. Globalization is no longer just an economic phenomenon: it is accompanied by cultural, social and political changes and processes, and it is often difficult to say whether the economic, or the cultural or the political changes come first. Economic globalization is manifested today through three main neo-liberal policy prescriptions: • Deregulation: a general withdrawal of the State from providing control or oversight over economic and financial transactions, the removal of all government/public “interventions” that might affect the free functioning of the market; for e.g., removal of price controls on goods and services, dismantling of public subsidies, etc.
• Privatization: increased role of the private sector in providing all types of goods and services, transfer of ownership and management of public enterprises to private companies, change in operational aspects of public/state companies with increased stress on full cost recovery, efficiency, etc. • Liberalization: giving up domestic control over essential sectors such as trade and finance, permitting foreign companies to own key enterprises such as national banks, easing controls on foreign investment and capital, reducing trade tariffs, duties, restrictions and barriers, etc. Distinguishing features of these neoliberal reforms are: an overall withdrawal of the state from its roles of sovereign economic decision making, providing essential public services, developing and implementing policies aimed at promoting equity, and ensuring adequate public protection for economically, socially and politically vulnerable populations. These trends are accompanied by an increase in the role and power of the private sector, and a surrender of most economic transactions to the market in the belief that free and unfettered markets will somehow lead to the most efficient allocation of resources and eventually result in economic equality. Globalization has not affected all countries or regions in the same way, and a country’s internal “preparedness” is critical in how it can take advantage of or be completely overrun by economic globalization. Because of differing levels of modernization, industrialization and technological capacity, regions, countries and even areas within the same country have felt the impacts of globalization quite differently. For example, in Southeast Asia, the experiences of South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines in terms of how they have been able to benefit from economic globalization and what they have lost in the process are all very different. Within countries and societies, the economic class, political privilege and other advantages that a social group may have are significant factors in whether and how people have been able to benefit from economic globalization. By and large, those who are already wealthy, socially and politically privileged and have access to capital, higher education, productive assets (such as land) and other resources (such as technical knowhow and hardware) are usually able to benefit from the economic changes brought about by globalization. But those who are already cash poor, and socially and politically disadvantaged often face tremendous difficulties, and find themselves much worse off than before since they are compelled to operate in a more aggressive competitive economic environment but without the government/public supports that they once relied on. In fact the latest Human Development Report shows that over the last ten years, despite more wealth in the world than ever before, there are many more poor people than ever before, and also the gap between the rich and poor is wider than ever before. By the end of the 1990s, the share in global income of the richest fifth of the world’s people was 74 times the share of the poorest fifth of the world’s people. Impact of globalization to the women of the world According to the report of the Thirty-ninth session of United Nations’ COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN held in New York on 15 March-4 April 1995: The transformations in the world economy are profoundly changing the parameters of social development in all countries. One significant trend has been the increased poverty of women, the extent of which varies from region to region. The gender disparities in economic power-sharing are also an important contributing factor to the poverty of women. Migration and consequent changes in family structures have placed additional burdens on women, especially those who provide for several dependants. There are three interrelated sets of phenomena that shaped the world economy in the recent past and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. They include: (a) The various responses to the economic and political crisis of the 1980s (structural adjustment in developing countries, industrial restructuring and the change of emphasis in macroeconomic policymaking in the developed market economies and economic and political transition in the economies in the former USSR and Eastern Europe); (b) Rapid technological innovation and its implications for the organization of work and for income distribution; (c) Growing economic interdependence and globalization of markets and production.
Together, these phenomena comprised what was termed a process of economic restructuring. This process affected women’s socio-economic position in a complex and multidimensional way, causing changes in the level, patterns and conditions of female employment and modifying women’s social roles. The last years of the Decade have witnessed a deterioration of the general economic situation in the developing countries. The financial, economic and social crisis of the developing world has worsened the situation of large sectors of the population, especially women. In particular, the decline in economic activity is having a negative impact on an already unbalanced distribution of income, as well as on the high levels of unemployment, which affect women more than men. Protectionism against developing-countries’ exports in all its forms, the deterioration in the terms of trade, monetary instability, including high interest rates and the inadequate flow of official development assistance have aggravated the development problems of the developing countries, and consequently have complicated the difficulties hampering the integration of women in the development process. One of the principal obstacles now confronting the developing countries is their gigantic public and private external debt, which constitutes a palpable expression of the economic crisis and has serious political, economic and social consequences for these countries. The amount of the external debt obliges the developing countries to devote enormous sums of their already scarce export income to the servicing of the debt, which affects their peoples’ lives and possibilities of development, with particular effects on women. In many developing countries there is a growing conviction that the conditions for the payment and servicing of the external debt cause those countries enormous difficulties and that the adjustment policies traditionally imposed are inadequate and lead to a disproportionate social cost. The negative effects of the present international economic situation on the least developed countries have been particularly grave and have caused serious difficulties in the process of integrating women in development. Impact of Globalization in Asian women The impact of economic globalization on women needs to be assessed in light of women’s multiple roles as productive and reproductive labour in their families, as well as their contributions towards overall community cohesion and welfare, and maintaining the social fabric. Because of deep-rooted differences in gender roles and socio-cultural expectations, the impacts of economic globalization are felt quite differently by women and men. While economic class, race and culture are also extremely important factors in determining the nature and extent of impacts, by and large, the very same policies and trends are likely to have quite different implications for women and men. Research in the 1980s and 1990s showed that structural adjustment policies promoted by the World Bank and IMF affected women much more deeply than men. The elimination of public subsidies for health, education and other social services resulted in transference of the “welfare” function of the state onto families, and by extension onto girls and women. This trend became entrenched as governments continued to cut back on social spending, thus increasing the burden of caring for vulnerable community members (such as children, the aging, disabled persons or those with illness) on families. Because of women’s traditional roles in most societies in Asia as care-givers, this burden has been disproportionately borne by women than men. In many countries, when public hospitals are privatized or the cost of professional health care goes up, middle to low income families rely more on informal or traditional forms of care. This is usually provided by the female members of households and communities because of women’s traditional roles as service providers in the home. If basic education is privatized or if families cannot afford the rising costs of education, it is more often girls who drop out of school than boys because of beliefs that boys need formal education more than girls to prepare them for their future social roles. This has further implications for the type of employment that women are able to find when they move into the wage labour market. With lower levels of education, women will tend to be concentrated in the lower rungs of the labour market and in jobs that require less formal training or education. The replacement of manual labour with machines and new technology usually displaces more women than men since women have a larger education gap to cross compared with men (in the same class) in order to learn how to use new technologies.
Similarly, increases in the prices of food, fuel and essential services such as water and electricity place extra burdens on females in low income households since women are usually responsible for managing domestic food and water consumption, as well as ensuring the overall health of their families. Female children are generally expected to perform more housework than male children and in poor families, the labour of girls in cooking, cleaning, child care, and caring for the elderly or sick family members is essential for household maintenance, and also to free up the time of older women who need to find wage labour. Trade liberalization has also been shown to have differential impacts on women and men. An essential aspect of trade liberalization is export competitiveness and much of this competitiveness in Asian countries has come from the labour of women. The development of export processing zones in the 1980s and 1990s in developing countries eager to industrialize was premised on the availability of cheap, docile, unskilled labour that would be willing to work at low wages for long hours. Given a longer history of men’s involvement in industrialized production, union organizing and political negotiations in the labour market, these export processing zones targeted women as the primary work-force, relying on local cultural and social values as domesticating forces. Research shows that no country in Asia has been able to expand its manufacturing capacity without pulling an increasing proportion of women into industrial waged employment. In the early 1990s, women accounted for more than 43 percent of the manufacturing work force in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The manufacturing sector in itself accounted for more than 20 percent of GDP in these countries. In the Thai export sector, women accounted for 90 per cent of the workforce in the canned seafood industry and 85 percent in the garment and accessory industry. In the transition countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, women’s labour is considered a significant element of their “comparative advantage” in export oriented manufacturing, as governments invite investors to establish manufacturing bases in their countries in an order to integrate with regional and global economies. While export industries offer women opportunities for employment and income, the unregulated and competitive nature of these trade regimes also means that women’s labour is often unprotected and dispensable. Few governments have, or are willing to enforce legislation that ensures women workers in this sector with fair living wages, benefits, occupational safety and opportunities for upgrading skills. Another area where women have made significant contributions to local and national economies is through the informal sector. A significant portion of economic activity in Asian countries is not fully counted and does not show up in national census or survey figures, since it is conducted by women in their homes or in small community level production units. These activities range from the sale of vegetables, locally processed food and other goods (artificial flowers, accessories, etc.) to piece work for factories, and the provision of services such as cleaning, cooking, caring for the elderly, childcare, etc. It is important to note that in many Asian countries (e.g., Thailand, Lao PDR, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan), a large portion of informal sector activities are commercialized or “marketized” versions of women’s traditional skills of maintaining and reproducing the family and community spheres. While some of these activities are self-owned or self-regulated (i.e., women have reasonable control over production conditions), many are under sub-contract arrangements in which women are at the mercy of brokers who determine production and compensation rules. This is particularly the case in sub-contracted production for the manufacturing sector, which is generally organized around contracting agents who receive production contracts from larger agents and then sub-contract the work to the women workers. These workers would then perform the work in their homes, or in small production units set up by the principle contractor. A distinguishing feature of such work is that for both cultural and economic reasons, workers cannot and do not organize themselves in unions or associations to protect their rights as workers. Principle contractors are often people known and respected in the community, and take on the persona of “patrons” who bestow favors on community members through economic opportunities, etc. On the other hand, contractors may be from outside the neigbourhood or community, and will simply go elsewhere if workers decide to organize and negotiate as a group. Many researchers argue that there is a growing “in-formalization” of labour in the export manufacturing sector, and that this in-formalization taps into women’s needs to balance their productive and reproductive responsibilities. Economic opportunism and profits are served by local culture and tradition, which serve
as domesticating forces and ensure a supply of cheap and manageable labour. Further, the expansion of this type of sub-contracted production has increased with the globalization of production, and trade and investment liberalization. On one hand, the informal sector has provided women with much needed income, which in some instances also enhances their status in their families and communities. But at the same time, the inability to organize as a group in such employment makes it extremely difficult for women to negotiate better compensation, working conditions and labour protection for themselves. The liberalization of the agriculture sector has also affected women in a variety of ways, from losing access to local markets for their products to dislocation from traditional forms of livelihood, outward migration and re-settlement. Under trade liberalization agreements (such as in the WTO) developing countries are bound to import a percentage of agriculture and food products for domestic consumption. The developing countries of Asia are primarily rural economies where at least 50 percent of agriculture and food production is done by women. Local and national food security is dependent on domestic production, which in turn ensures livelihood security for rural families. Obligatory imports of agricultural (especially food) products, accompanied by reduction in tariffs on imported goods and the removal of price controls creates pressure on making local goods “competitive” with imported goods (which are often subsidized in their countries of origin). This has negative impacts on food and livelihood security for domestic producers, leading to increased economic hardship for rural families and a gradual weakening of rural, self-reliant economic structures. Again, because of women’s dual roles as productive and reproductive labour, this burden is borne more heavily by women than men. Another crucial area that is affected by trade liberalization and privatization regimes is natural resources, particularly in relation to bio-diversity and traditional knowledge. A huge proportion of rural communities in Asia are subsistence producers who live off common lands and resources, and rely on traditional knowledge of local forests, plants, animals and fish for food and income. In these communities, women are usually responsible for meeting the family’s daily food and livelihood needs, and are veritable storehouses of knowledge about local bio-diversity and traditional extraction practices. But with commercial harvesting of natural resources for value added production, increase in plantation and mono-cropping for export markets, and transference of land, water and resource rights to private companies, both bio-diversity and environmental quality are seriously threatened, and local communities are alienated from the resource base they depend upon. The loss of local plant and animal species is a serious blow to women since they rely on seasonal diversity and variation to ensure food, income and health for their families. When communities are displaced or relocated from traditional lands to make way for commercial enterprises, women are particularly disempowered since their sphere of activity is usually limited to local forests, rivers and common lands. Reduced access to these lands and resources, and reduced availability of local foods increases women’s work-load of family maintenance. The introduction of new resource tenure systems often marginalizes women from access to and control over all types of resources—natural, economic and political. Bio-piracy and the patenting of women’s traditional knowledge of biodiversity and production processes by private corporations also dis-empowers women in very particular ways. Not only are women’s intellectual contributions to science, technology and modern know-how not recognized, but also, they are compelled to pay for the very resources that they have nurtured and protected for generations as these resources enter markets in the form of medicines and processed foods. While women in such situations face the danger of losing ownership and control over their indigenous resources through trade liberalization, they do not necessarily gain access to new resources. Patents on products derived from local bio-diversity do not involve royalty payments to women and their communities who have stewarded and built a store of knowledge about these resources. Nor are women compensated for the “opportunity” costs of losing access to their primary sources of food and livelihood. The introduction of new, valued adding production technologies does not necessarily benefit rural women since they usually have neither the required capital nor the base of education and skills required to take advantage of these changes.
Unless accompanied by deliberate measures to transfer new technologies and know how to women, the introduction of new technologies often displaces them from traditional areas of autonomy and control. The above are just some examples of how women are affected by economic globalization. The range of impacts is both vast and complex, and these impacts vary across countries, social and economic status, culture, and also across time. What were considered opportunities ten years ago may be considered threats today, as in the case of some types of export processing zones, commercial agricultural production practices, etc. Further, it can be argued that the forces of economic globalization impact women at two broad levels. First, at the immediate experiential level such as lowered wages, reduced access to land and resources, less food, greater workload, etc. And second, at a more “structural” or strategic level, where impacts are not necessarily visible today, but which lead to a longer-term disempowerment of women. 2. Poverty More than 1 billion people in the world today, 70 percent of which are women (according to the 2004 AFL-CIO survey), live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in the developing countries. Even in developed countries, such as the United States, women are working longer hours and making less than men. Poverty, whether it is defined as the lack of a minimally adequate income or as the lack of essential human capabilities, is still pervasive in the world, particularly in the developing world. Between 1989 and 1994, the percentage of the population in developing countries surviving on income of US $1.00 or less per day was 32, ranging from a low of 4 per cent in the Middle East to a high of 45 per cent in South Asia. By another measure — mortality by the age of 40 — the percentage of the total population for all developing countries in 1995 was 14, ranging from a high of 31 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa to a low of 7 per cent for East Asia. The female illiteracy rate for 1995 was 38 per cent for all developing countries, ranging from a low of 15 per cent for Latin America and the Caribbean to a high of 63 per cent for South Asia. Two thirds of the world’s 900 million illiterate adults are women, a majority of whom reside in the rural areas of developing countries.
Table 3: Population living onless than a dollar a day (at 1993 purchasing power parity) 1987 % E. Asia E. Europe/Central Asia Latin Amer./Caribbean Middle East/N. Africa S. Asia Sub-Saharan Africa Source: World Bank The rural poor as a percentage of the population of developing countries is estimated at 37 per cent. The highest rate is 66 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa; Latin America follows with a rural poverty rate of 59 per cent; South and South-East Asia, with 44 per cent; the Middle East, with 34 per cent; and East Asia, with 11 per cent. Data for 1990 show that the highest poverty rates in terms of absolute numbers and percentage of population are to be found in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, followed by the Middle East and North Africa. The poor as a percentage of total population increased between 1985 and 1990 in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa, as economies in these regions struggled with the burdens of adverse internal and external economic circumstances and debt and structural adjustment, 26.6 0.2 15.3 4.3 44.9 46.6 millions 417.5 1.1 63.7 9.3 474.4 217.2 1998 % 14.7 3.7 12.1 2.1 40.0 48.1 millions 267.1 17.6 60.7 6.0 521.8 301.6
which seem to have fallen most heavily on the poor. In Latin America, where poverty was already widespread, the poor as a percentage of the population has reached extremely high proportions. For example, in Ecuador the poor account for 78 per cent of the population, and in Bolivia 70 per cent of all households and 94 per cent of households in rural areas are among the poor.
Women’s Education and Family Size in Selected Countries, 1990s
Source: Demographic and Health Surveys, 1991–1999.
Despite overall economic growth, the social security mechanisms designed to prevent vulnerable population groups from falling into poverty and the increase in average income in the developed market economies in the 1980s, poverty has been on the rise in some of these countries. In the United States 33.6 million people, some 13 per cent of the population, were estimated to be living below the poverty line, and in Japan, 25 per cent of all households were on the verge of destitution. In the countries of the European Union at the beginning of the 1990s, 44 million people, 18 per cent of the population, were estimated to be living in poverty and 10 million in extreme poverty. Poverty surged in the transition economies of Eastern Europe, the CIS and the Baltic States as a decline in real wages and the breakdown of social security systems there led to the rapid impoverishment of what appears to be the majority of the population, particularly that part of it living in rural areas and small towns. Feminization of Poverty Analysis of gender and poverty starts from the assumption that women are poorer than men and is primarily based on measures of income poverty, with a greater emphasis on quantitative data than on qualitative indicators. Using the household as the basic unit of analysis, particularly the comparison of female-headed households to male-headed households, the conclusion is drawn that among women, the incidence of poverty is higher and more severe and, in relation to that of men, is increasing. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “feminization of poverty”. Poverty has various manifestations, including: lack of income and productive resources sufficient to ensure a sustainable livelihood; hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increasing morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments; and social discrimination and exclusion. Recent analyses of poverty in developed and developing countries emphasize the feminization of poverty as a current trend. The term itself appeared in the mid-1980s and was used to describe the growing proportion of women and of households headed by women in the ranks of the poor during the recession of
the early 1980s and in the context of cut-backs in welfare programmes. By the end of the 1980s, some 75 per cent of all poverty in the United States was to be found among women, particularly women who were single parents. A review of the pertinent literature suggests that the number of families headed by poor women has been rising ever since by about 100,000 a year. The greatest incidence of poverty, however, has been found among older black women. It would be difficult to assert with certainty whether the same trend is at work in the other developed market economies and in developing economies. Evidence from some of the national reports of the European countries (for example, Austria) suggests that the feminization of poverty is not confined to the United States alone. On the other hand, reports from Finland and other Nordic countries suggest that the feminization of poverty has not been a “burning issue” there. Generous welfare systems in these countries prevent large-scale female poverty despite high rates of unemployment among women and a large and growing number of households headed by women. In the Netherlands, for example, more than 70 per cent of all single mothers with dependent children are recipients of benefit payments. Although the mere fact of the primary wage earner being a woman is not by itself an indication of household poverty in these countries, the poverty rate among households headed by women is significantly higher than among households headed by men. In Norway, for example, 13 per cent of all households headed by women live below the poverty level but only 5 per cent of those headed by men. In too many countries, social welfare systems do not take sufficient account of the specific conditions of women living in poverty, and there is a tendency to scale back the services provided by such systems. The risk of falling into poverty is greater for women than for men, particularly in old age, where social security systems are based on the principle of continuous remunerated employment. In some cases, women do not fulfill this requirement because of interruptions in their work, due to the unbalanced distribution of remunerated and unremunerated work. Moreover, older women also face greater obstacles to labourmarket re-entry.
Table 5. Poverty in developing countries, by region, 1988 Rural population below poverty line ---------------------Region Asia Sub-Saharan Africa Near East and North Africa Latin America and the Caribbean Total Least developed countries Source: IFAD, 1988. a/ Severe poverty status is determined on the basis of the integrated poverty index which is calculated on the basis of the percentage of rural population below the poverty line, the income-gap ratio and the range of growth of GNP per capita. Total number of countries 24 45 13 32 114 42 Severe poverty status a/ 14 36 2 14 66 35 Rural population as percentage total population 74 73 51 29 68 80 Millions 633 204 27 76 939 253 As percentage of rural population 31 60 26 61 36 69
Other indicators of the feminization of poverty are the growth of single-parent households headed by women and the long-term decline in transfers to the poor and in government spending on welfare
programmes. The feminization of poverty raises complex questions as to the role of the welfare State in thereduction of poverty. It has become apparent that the simple redistribution of income by means of government transfers does not always work towards a solution to the problem of poverty, let alone the reversal or prevention of the feminization trend, and that it often leads to the perpetuation of both. To some extent the feminization of poverty trend can be explained in terms of marginal rates of income taxation and high rates of indirect taxation, minimum-wage polices and income transfers within the social security system. While in the developed market economies the feminization of poverty presents itself as a growing number of women and women heads-of-household with dependent children in the ranks of low-paid workers and/or in the ranks of the long-term unemployed, in the developing countries it is the harshness of the deprivation experienced by poor women that constitutes the feminization of poverty. Poverty itself is widespread. A number of factors nevertheless point to the disproportionate effect that poverty is beginning to have on women. Poverty among rural women is growing faster than among rural men and over the past 20 years the number of women in absolute poverty has risen by about 50 per cent as against some 30 per cent for rural men.
Table 6. The poor as a percentage of population, by region, 1985 and 1990 Region Sub-Saharan Africa East Asia South Asia Middle East and North Africa Latin America and the Caribbean All developing countries 1985 47.6 13.2 51.8 30.6 22.4 30.5 1990 49.7 11.3 49.0 33.1 25.5 25.5
Source: World Bank, World Development Report, 1990 and 1992 (Washington, D.C., 1990 and 1992).
The feminization of poverty has also recently become a significant problem in the countries with economies in transition and in other countries undergoing fundamental political, economic and social transformations, these transformations have often led to a reduction in women’s income or to women being deprived of income. Filipino women remain poor Although the official poverty incidence in the Philippines went down from 35.5% in 1994 to 32.7% in 1997, the number of families affected actually increased from 4,531,170 to 4,553,387. What’s worse, the income share of the poorest 10% of the population went down from 1.8% to 1.7% while that of the richest 10 % went up from 37.8% to 39.7%. In 1994 the richest decile had 19 times the income of the poorest decile; in 1997 the gap had widened to 23.8 times. In October 1998 the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) of the National Statistics Office (NSO) estimated that 5.7 million of the total 14.37 million families are living in poverty. The poor has also been harmed by the compliance of the government with stabilization and structural adjustment measures imposed by the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). What have these measures meant for women? They have to work more and do with less in order to bear increased costs because of the withdrawal of subsidies for farmers and consumers. They find it hard to ensure family access to minimum needs because of higher taxes and prices of basic services (exacerbated by intermittent oil price increases). And with privatization of water, they have to bear more costly but
not necessarily more available and safer water and be displaced as employees of government water companies.” Women have suffered from another conditionality of the IMF, the 25% mandatory savings by government. The 15% of women who were chronically or recently unemployed as of April 1998 lack safety nets; simultaneously with this, women get fewer social services. The minuscule sums for social and economic services means less than 1% of the total budget went to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which takes care of women living in poverty and under especially difficult circumstances. The minuscule sums have meant not only that poor women have less access to them but also that they must work longer and harder to provide services that the government cannot, like care of the sick and elderly. Health spending was only 1.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - less than the average of 2% for developing countries. And there are no available data on poor women’s access to free or low-cost legal service but NGOs like the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) and the Women’s Legal Bureau (WLB) give legal assistance to survivors of violence against women.” Child care still problematic even if government claims it has put up 34,979 barangay day care centers or 83.4% of the target: “These centers provide only a few hours of learning and other opportunities for preschool children, which are not sufficient to enable their mothers to pursue full-time, productive work.” The minuscule sums also mean that 69 government agencies spent only .4% of the P546.7 billion (a sum of P2.69 billion) appropriated in 1998 for the Gender and Development (GAD) budget, required by law to be at least 5% of the allocation for every agency -- and that only 16,000 of the 5.7 million impoverished families will get government service and support under the NAPC’s approach of identifying and helping the 100 poorest families in the country’s 78 provinces and 83 cities. “The structural roots of poverty are not at all considered in this kind of ‘patronage and welfarist’ approach,” said Dr. Rosalinda Pineda-Ofreneo about NAPC. She also called attention to the structural cause of poverty in rural areas where most of the poor live: the maldistribution of land. “Very few women have benefited from land distribution,” she pointed out. “The latest available date (1992) showed that only 5,145 women vs. 23,310 men have received Certificates of Land Ownership Agreements (CLOAs). And the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has not updated its gender-disaggregated statistics, reflected the low priority it accords such information.” Since 1995 there has been no legislative or administrative reform ensuring women’s rights to land and other property, and access to credit, aural resources and appropriate technologies. Women - and men - continue to protest before the DAR the massive conversion of farmlands into subdivisions, golf estates, resorts and industrial or memorial parks. Affordable housing remains a pipe dream for the poor, of whom some 2.4-4.5 million are urban squatters. it is only the lower-middle class who will benefit from the building of 127,86 million units as announced by President Joseph Estrada in his latest State of the Nation Address. As for indigenous women, their poverty has worsened under the impact of globalization and the economic crisis of 1997. “Mines employ mostly men, and formal employment in factories do not absorb the more poorly-educated indigenous women., who have resorted to increased out-migration and informal sector activity.” It is not only indigenous women who have to leave home just to get work; so do their sisters in the lowlands. Migration has become feminized: women formed 61% of deployed new hires in 1998. “Women leave for jobs mainly in vulnerable, unprotected and unregulated occupations abroad; 251 of the 251 workers who came home physically ill and 148 of the 451 who were recorded to have died abroad in 1997 were women,” stated Pineda-Ofreneo. “But as the economic crisis spreads, they are sending less money home and many may be forced to come home- to but a few reintegration programs of the government. So when their contracts abroad end, they stay on illegally and accept SALEP (‘shunned by all nationals except the very poorest’) or 3D (dirty, demeaning and dangerous) jobs.”
3. Women in Rural Areas Role in agricultural production Rural women are of critical importance in agricultural production and in the rural economies of developing countries, playing through a multiplicity of roles: co-farmers or unpaid family workers on farms or small enterprises owned by the head of the household or other family members; own-account farmers; and/or entrepreneurs in the informal sector. Rural women also work full-time or part-time on large farms and plantations as wage laborers. They also contribute to the subsistence of the household by organizing community-based informal labour- and resource-exchange groups among themselves. In sub-Saharan Africa, women contribute an average of 70 per cent of the total labour expended in food production for the household and for trade. Their contribution ranges from 30 per cent in Sudan to 80 per cent in the Congo. The proportion of women in the economically active labour force in agriculture ranges from 48 per cent in Burkina Faso to 73 per cent in the Congo. In Asia, there are considerable variations by country but, overall, women account for some 50 per cent of agricultural production. They constitute approximately 46 per cent of the agricultural labour force in Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines, 35 per cent in Malaysia, 54 per cent in Indonesia, and over 60 per cent in Thailand.62 Asia has experienced a steady increase in female employment in the manufacturing sector since the process of export-led industrialization began. It is not very clear what the impact of the current financial crisis will be on employment patterns in the manufacturing sector and therefore on the extent to which retrenched female labour will revert to the agricultural sector. In the Pacific, women play a dominant role in fisheries and food marketing as well as in the labourintensive processing of cash crops such as palm oil, copra, coconut oil, vanilla, coffee and cocoa. In Papua New Guinea women make up 71 per cent of the agricultural labour force; in Fiji they constitute about 38 per cent. In most countries of the Middle East and North Africa, women as part of the household labour force play a major role in agriculture. For example, 55.3 per cent of unpaid agricultural labour in Turkey is performed by women; the figure is 53.2 per cent in Morocco, 50.7 per cent in Egypt, 40.7 per cent in Lebanon, 30.7 per cent in Iraq, and 28 per cent in Mauritania. In Latin America and the Caribbean, women contribute an average of 40 per cent to the process of agricultural production, and they are also increasingly employed in the production of non-traditional export crops. In all of these regions, there is significant underreporting of women’s participation in the agricultural sector. By not counting the unpaid work of women on family farms, official figures have consistently undervalued the contribution of women to agricultural production. Further, cultural attitudes in some regions lead to reluctance among men to acknowledge the economic activities of their wives and daughters outside the house. The full extent of rural women’s role in the agricultural sector, in particular, and in the other sectors of the rural economy is not yet fully quantified and recognized. Further work in terms of research and advocacy within the context of efforts to value the unpaid labour of women is required. Gender-based inequality within most households, reinforced and enhanced within the legal, cultural, social, economic, and institutional spheres, contributes to women being poorer than men. The prerogatives that accrue to men within this framework are such that men can, and mostly do, appropriate the labour of women for “their” crops without sharing the income generated from those crops. Since the income will not necessarily be applied to household needs, rural women are left to fend for the household. In addition to using the labour of women for “their” crops, men, having recourse to tradition and cultural norms, may prevent women from engaging in other economic activities, such as gainful employment or self-employment in the informal sector. This denies women opportunities for advancement and perpetuates their low status within the family and society. Although causality has yet to be fully proven, there is a link, at the aggregate level, between gender inequality and human poverty, such that households, in which women have a lower status also tend to be poorer.
Effects of globalization The process of globalization, through the pursuit of trade and financial liberalization policies, has direct and indirect effects on the situation of rural women. Deterioration in the terms of trade of commodities reduces the income due to rural women’s labour. It also reduces the trade earnings of developing countries and therefore their capacity to invest in rural infrastructure and in building the human capabilities of rural women. The changing patterns of financial flows, characterized by a decline in development assistance and increased but uneven equity capital flows to developing countries, are forcing countries to pursue policies such as the privatization of productive assets like land. The accompanying commercialization of agriculture is further intensifying the consolidation of landholding. These policy developments tend to exacerbate the socio-economic marginalization of rural women within the existing framework, because of
Table 7. Rural women living below the poverty line, by region, 1988 Region Asia Asia (excluding China and India) Sub-Saharan Africa Near East and North Africa Latin America and the Caribbean Least developed countries Source: The State of World Rural Poverty (New York, New York University Press, 1992), published in conjunction with IFAD. gender inequality. However, liberalization has had some benefits, particularly in providing opportunities for wage employment for rural women in new sectors such as the non-traditional export sector in agriculture. Women, particularly rural women, are poorer than men, as indicated by their lower levels of literacy, education, health and nutritional status, as well as their lesser entitlement to productive assets and resources. Trends and policy issues pertaining to the situation of rural women The context in which rural women experience poverty, engage in agricultural production, and struggle for access to the productive resources, inputs and services that are crucial for optimal participation in socio-economic activities has changed considerably. It is more than ever before governed by a process characterized by the liberalization of trade and markets for food and other products, increasing privatization of resources and services, the reorientation of economic policies under structural adjustment programmes, and increased commercialization of agriculture. Agricultural development policies in developing countries are becoming more oriented towards reliance on markets and private agents. With the commercialization of agriculture, the market place has a more important role to play than it did in the past. More inputs into agricultural production processes are acquired through the market, and more agricultural outputs are sold through the market than has hitherto been the case. Farmers now have to shift from subsistence agricultural production to the growing of cash and export crops. The liberalization policies which are part of structural adjustment programmes promote the elimination of trade and market barriers and the reduction of government-financed price supports for basic agricultural commodities. They favour large-scale farming and the production of commercial cash and export crops over food crops for household and local consumption, on the assumption that increases in income from exports will ensure national food security. Further, these policies involve the scaling-down of governmentNumber of women (millions) 374 153 129 18 43 149
sponsored agricultural services, such as training and extension services, thus reducing the ability of small farmers and rural households to benefit from market forces through skill enhancement. They also involve a reduction in investment in rural infrastructure which, owing to poor and deteriorating rural infrastructure such as roads, reduces the market access of rural people, especially rural women. The privatization of productive resources and inputs is part of this process. Although markets are, in theory, open to everyone, poor rural people, especially women, are unable to take advantage of the market system because they lack three essentials: information about new laws and programmes; the money to purchase land; and access to credit. One consequence of globalization is a rural economy that is more integrated within both the national and the global markets. As a result, in the rural economy, cash and wage income has become as critical as access to land, if not more critical. A study on the impact of privatization on gender and property rights in sub-Saharan Africa concludes that women who are able to accumulate enough money to buy land are usually employed, urban women or women in peti-urban areas who grow food for the urban market.9 Thus, to the extent that cash and wage income has become central to household food security in the rural areas of developing countries, the crucial factor in rural economies is monetization. Access to cash is a major bottleneck for the poor and the landless when acquiring other productive resources and inputs necessary for survival. Rural households are responding to the uncertainties and opportunities created by the increased dependence on the market by diversifying their household resource base by restructuring the division of labour within the household. In this restructuring, some members of the household remain on the land, freeing others to seek work elsewhere. Therefore, instead of permanent out-migration, as was the case during earlier periods of modernization of agriculture, a temporary/seasonal, short-term movement of labour seems to be on the rise. This phenomenon has been referred to in the literature as “circular migration”, or as a land-based/free-floating labour force.10 The actual adaptive patterns vary significantly across the globe. Depending upon the prevailing norms and patterns of gender relations and the opportunities, household strategies may favour either male or female migration. In the Middle East and Africa, women have generally taken over the work on the land, freeing male members of the household to migrate in search of work elsewhere, while in Latin America and Asia, women for a long time have been the principal labour migrants, internally and internationally. In order to cope with the resultant reduced earnings, balance-of-payment problems and debt crises, many Governments in developing countries have had to curtail their budget expenditures, particularly socialsector expenditures. This situation has clear gender implications. Although both women and men lose out directly from cuts in expenditures on education, health, and other social-sector budget lines, the cost for women, particularly rural women, is more severe, since women experience increased demand for their unpaid labour because of their greater role in reproductive activities. For example, cuts in the health budget increase the care-giving responsibilities of rural women, while cuts in rural infrastructure developments, such as irrigation and water supply systems, increase their time burden. This is in addition to lower returns on women’s labour in terms of their wages and income from cash and export crops as a result of the deteriorating terms of trade for agricultural commodities. There has been a dramatic but uneven increase in the flow of private capital, particularly equity capital, to developing countries. In order to alleviate the balance-of-payment and debt problems and to increase income, many developing countries have adopted “investor friendly” policies such as low or no corporate taxes, tax holidays, subsidies to investors, and privatization. The pursuit of such policies has gender implications similar to those described above, because a combination of low or no corporate tax and low earnings from depressed commodity prices results in the erosion of the fiscal base of the State. This results in budget cuts, particularly in the social sector, which have the same dual impact on women, especially rural women, noted above. Since equity capital constitutes a major proportion of the private capital flows to developing countries, many such countries are seeking to attract capital by pursuing policies of privatization of productive
assets such as land. Access to land is now being mediated through the market. As discussed below (paras. 28–34) and in prior reports, the issue of access to land and other productive assets remains critical to rural women. In the market system emerging as a result of privatization, women, who generally have few assets or property, little cash income and minimal political power, are being left on the periphery. Liberalization policies have had their successes, particularly in terms of employment opportunities for women. Some African countries have diversified their commodity exports to include non-traditional agricultural exports such as flowers and luxury fruits. Earnings from these exports have risen very rapidly in recent years, and women comprise the majority of the workforce in the sector. They are paid in cash for their labour, whereas on family farms, their labour was unremunerated. In Latin America, especially Mexico and Colombia, in the well-established non-traditional agricultural export sector, women comprise the majority of the workforce. However, the wages are, in relation to profit, quite low, and the occupational hazards can be severe. Liberalization policies go hand in hand with the policy of commercialization of agriculture in developing countries. Through such policies, multinational corporations are consolidating their involvement in agriculture with mixed outcomes for rural women. For example, in Thailand, women working on familyowned land under contract to multinational companies earned cash income for the first time after years of unpaid labour in intensive rice cultivation. However, the vertical integration of the agricultural sector which comes with the involvement of multinational corporations makes rural household food security vulnerable to market fluctuations. These evolving policy issues provide the context in which rural women struggle to gain access to productive resources, services and inputs. First, the integration of rural economies within both the national and the international markets means that governmental policies on their own cannot determine the access of rural women to productive resources and services. Secondly, the “static” approach of provision of access to productive resources such as land will not suffice. A much more dynamic approach is now required — one that entails the empowerment of the rural poor, particularly rural women, by increasing the capabilities that will enable them to navigate the market system. Support for women’s full involvement in decision-making and participation in rural institutions and for rural women’s increased personal and organizational capabilities is important, because access to productive resources, services and inputs is negotiated within a political and socio-economic institutional framework that tends to be gender-biased. Access to productive resources and services Access to productive resources, services and inputs is essential if the rural poor, especially rural women, are to be raised out of poverty and enabled fully to contribute to sustainable human development. Productive resources, particularly land, are critical to the improvement of the situation of women. access to land is crucial for rural women a. Access to land Land is a critical resource for rural women. It is important for food production for the household and for market-oriented agricultural activities. Land ownership is also critical to raising the social status of rural women and to facilitating their access to benefits and services such as credit and extension, which tend to be conditional on land as collateral. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), access to land for the rural poor can be effected in the following ways: land redistribution (from larger holdings above a certain size); adjudication of traditional land systems (basically privatization of land previously held under customary tenure); settlement schemes (setting up poor families on newly developed and/or government-owned land for cultivation and/or grazing); and the establishment of individual usufruct (use) rights or community rights. The implementation of such measures, with due cognizance of a gender perspective, can reduce income inequality and human poverty. Rural women can increase their income and contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable human development if they have access to land.
Due to factors such as population growth, desertification and land degradation, arable land per member of the agricultural population of most developing countries has been declining for the past 30 years. Many developing countries have either exhausted their land frontier or cannot afford the cost of new land development. The reduction in available land is further exacerbated in many developing countries by the concentration of land ownership in the hands of a small fraction of the landholders. In Latin America, the region with the highest such concentration, 1.3 per cent of the landowners hold 71.6 per cent of the land under cultivation. Inequality in land ownership is actually greater than the data indicate, because many small holders, particularly women, sharecrop or lease their holdings, and many rural poor have no land at all. Most of Latin America is characterized by latifundios, large land-grant estates owned by the few, and minifundios, small poor holdings that rarely provide adequate employment on subsistence for a family. These levels of concentration of land also prevail in a number of sub-Saharan African countries such as Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The policy trends of privatization and commercialization of agriculture favour the consolidation of land and tend to negate legal and agrarian reforms that would bring about a fair distribution of land in rural communities or among rural women. For example, current agricultural policy in sub-Saharan Africa is encouraging the trend towards concentration of land ownership. The assumption is that large-scale and commercial crop-farming will increase productivity and thus ensure national food security. Such policy runs the risk of favoring already better-off farmers, mainly men, who will receive the largest share of the national resources of land, capital, credit and foreign exchange, while women farmers, who are the main food producers on the continent, will be left in the marginalized and stagnating small-holder sector. The impact of land concentration is compounded by changing property rights regimes, from customary to private. Within customary regimes, women have a tenuous hold on land, their access being indirect and generally dependent on male relatives. Therefore, they are generally unable to claim any ownership rights during the transition to private property regimes, and thus end up landless. In most cases their former user rights under the customary regime also disappear. Theoretically, within the new context of private property regimes rural women should be able to purchase land. However, in practice they generally lack the necessary cash or access to credit. b. Access to water Water is both a basic human need and an important productive resource. It helps to improve domestic hygiene and health and enhances childcare as well as crop and/or animal care. Access to clean water is likely to have a marked effect on the amount of time women have for other productive activities or for reproductive activities such as childcare. Irrigation is a land-augmenting activity. It increases agricultural productivity in land under cultivation, enables farmers to grow several crops per year, regulates the flow of water and assists in the conservation of water. Because it increases output, access to irrigation increases household food security and household income. Although it may increase labour-intensive tasks, by and large, it lightens the burden of rural women’s work. Unfortunately, investment in irrigation infrastructure and water distribution is low in many developing countries. Only 35 per cent of the crop land in Asia is irrigated, and only 5 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, small farmers, including rural women, tend to have limited access to existing irrigation and water distribution infrastructure. For example, in some cases, large-scale, influential farmers get first chance at available water, before it trickles down to the less influential — mostly women farmers. In other cases, women farmers, lacking the necessary connections and power in the local “irrigators committee” or with the Government’s “water delegate”, find themselves confined to night-time irrigation. Even if access to water were not a problem, women farmers seldom have the savings, credit, or incentive to invest in wells and other water projects. Moreover, rural women are often not involved in the technical management and planning of water and irrigation use, and their interests are therefore often ignored or marginalized. Further, as in the case of land, existing water rights regimes often exclude and marginalize rural women and thus constrain their ability to benefit from water resources and to use them optimally in their farming activities.
Aside from access to water, farmers require other inputs such as energy resources, seeds and fertilizer. Programmes like rural electrification are capital intensive and have not been implemented successfully in many developing countries. They are usually only successful as part of a comprehensive rural development strategy aimed at raising rural incomes and expanding the rural economic base. Ready access to energy and water is a significant precondition for reducing what is referred to as the “time poverty” of women, because it eliminates the need to collect water and fuel-wood which is a major component of a rural woman’s time budget. c. Access to technology and research The need for rural women’s access to technology and research is linked to training and access to information through extension services, rural women’s groups and non-governmental organizations. There is also the need for access to technology and basic technical know-how for rural women if they were not to be marginalized by the broader macro-level developments that are having an impact on their lives and the agricultural sector. Technological advances in the agricultural sectors of developing countries have often been carried out without due consideration of local conditions or availability of resources and without consultation with the local people, particularly rural women. Successful agricultural technologies tend to be appropriated by the big landowners who have knowledge, capital, and institutional connections. Rural women generally lack those advantages and therefore tend to be marginalized in acquiring technology. It is important for technology to match local resources and social conditions. For example, the success of capital-intensive mechanization in raising production in the United States of America and Canada cannot be duplicated in developing countries without significant cost in terms of unemployment and dislocation. The displacement of rural labour by capital-intensive technology hits rural women harder than men, because the household food security for which they have primary responsibility is increasingly dependent on wage income from seasonal work on big farms and plantations. Mechanization can also exacerbate the existing problem of consolidation of landownership, because of the general requirement of economies of scale in order to ensure profitability from technological investments. In the developing countries, the labour-to-land ratio is high, and labour is much cheaper than capital. Thus, technological advances that are land-augmenting — in that they add to the productivity of the land — and that result in an increase in the need for labour will be more appropriate there. The Japanese model of focusing on biological and chemical technology (such as new seeds and fertilizer) and on a high ratio of farm workers per cultivated hectare may be more suited to the developing countries than the mechanization approach of North America. The introduction of new technology in rural areas is often risky. Women farmers are reluctant to accept technological advances whose risks, particularly in terms of the impact on household food security, are not known or are not adequately covered. Many of the technologies developed for the rural areas of developing countries have failed, and this has heightened the distrust of exogenous technology. 36 There are instances of family incomes falling, sometimes to the detriment of household survival, when innovations have been introduced. From a rural woman’s perspective, family survival is more important than maximizing long-run output. Therefore, it is more important to avoid any possibility of crop failure than to test new, unproven innovations. In many instances the new methods may not be adapted to local farming conditions, for they may have been inadequately tested in a different environment, and they may have adverse side effects. Rural women are generally not involved in selecting agricultural research topics, and therefore the research agenda does not focus on technology that is suitable for small farmers and laborers or on foods, such as cassava and millet, that loom large in poor people’s budgets. Consultation and making information available through extension services is important, particularly to rural women, in order to ensure acceptance of useful technology, such as labour-saving technologies. Household labour-saving devices such as fuel-efficient stoves and food-grinding machines will increase the amount of time women have for productive and reproductive activities and for leisure and selfimprovement.
d. Access to extension services Extension personnel have a crucial role in furthering the access of the rural poor, especially women, to productive resources and new technologies and linking them to research and planning institutions. They should be able to transmit the findings and innovations of agricultural research to the farmers; convey simple technical information and demonstrate it personally; identify difficulties; direct farmers to sources of technical advice and training; identify farmers who are credit risks; and arrange for fertilizer, seeds and other inputs from sources such as government depots. Unfortunately, agricultural extension programmes in many developing countries are not very successful and tend to be gender-biased. Extension personnel tend to be male, ill-paid, ill-trained, and ill-equipped to provide technical help in a gender-sensitive manner. In many instances, they are beholden to the large, influential farmers and neglect the small farmers, who have far less education and political power. They often neglect women, in spite of the demonstrated contribution of women to agriculture. Given the critical role of the extension service in the agricultural sector, such neglect has a significant negative impact on rural women’s farming activities. They miss out on critical information regarding new seeds, fertilizers, technological advances and even training and credit. The extension service might be more effective if it included more women and trained its staff in gender-sensitive delivery of services. Extension services should liaise closely with and could be integrated with rural women’s groups and nongovernmental development organizations, such as loan banks, irrigation authorities, seed and fertilizer distribution centres, agrarian reform agencies, and cooperative organizations. There is still substantial hunger, both transitory and chronic, in the rural areas of many developing countries, particularly before the beginning of a new harvest. Poor farming families cannot afford to purchase food just before harvests, when cash resources are lowest and prices are highest. In an attempt to bolster their purchasing capacity, poor rural households are forced to sell their labour, at the expense of their own farming, and obtain credit at high interest rates to ensure survival through the hungry season. They work for richer farmers to guarantee their short-term survival and settle for lower earnings from their own farms. This results in less income and high interest payments in the future and leads to continued indebtedness. Furthermore, small farmers, in their attempt to increase income, switch their focus to cash crops and stop producing or reduce their production of early maturing food crops that would fill the hunger gap between harvests. This leads to a poverty trap characterized by hunger, indebtedness and low-paid hard work. Hunger, however, has a gender dimension. Because of gender inequality within most households, women and girls are at the end of the food chain. Their diet is low in calories and low in protein, which results in weight loss and greater chances of contracting diseases. Hunger inhibits their critical role in food production. When the food security of the household is threatened, the burden of more hard work falls mainly on women, because they have primary responsibility for household food security and therefore have to work harder to make ends meet. Another indicator of poverty is the time burden on women. There are significant time allocation differentials between women and men in the rural areas of developing countries. Women work longer hours than men and carry heavier workloads which involve simultaneously performing multiple roles in both the productive and reproductive spheres. Analysis of time-use patterns in Cameroon showed that women’s weekly hours of labour activity were close to 70, compared to 30 for men. Furthermore, village transport surveys in the United Republic of Tanzania and Ghana demonstrate that in transport-related activities, such as collecting water and fuel-wood or carrying farm produce to the market, women spend nearly three times as much time as men. The simultaneity of many of the household chores that rural women have to perform increases the intensity of their work. Rural Women in the Philippines Rural women, both peasants and fisherfolk, comprise 80 percent of female population in the Philippines, and are marginalized and neglected. Yet, it is the rural women, with the men, who produce food and provide food security for the country. Indeed, they are the unsung heroines of the good earth (Leticia Shahani, 1995).
Agriculture plays a dominant role in Philippine economy, contributing 2.21% to the GDP in 1990, and employing 45.5% of the labour force in 1992. About 51% of the population resided in rural areas in 1991. The main export crops are coconuts, sugar cane, bananas and pineapples, while the principal subsistence crops are rice, maize and cassava. Livestock (mainly pigs, goats, water buffalo and poultry) and fisheries are important. Due to deforestation, the export of logs, formerly a important source of foreign exchange, and sawn wood were banned in 1986 and 1989, respectively. The major agro-ecological systems are coastal fishing, lowland irrigated farming, rainfed farming, upland farming, and riverine and lake fishing usually combined with crop cultivation. Approximately 50% of rural women are classified as members of the labour force. In 1992, 25.8% of the agricultural labour force, including fisheries and forestry, were women. Women play important roles in both cash crops and subsistence production, and in small livestock raising. They also take part in some aspects of fisheries. To feed their families, women cultivate kitchen gardens and subsistence crops, mainly rootcrops. Effects of Globalization to peasant women in the Philippines The impositions of world trade system in the Philippine economy have a great impact on the lives of the peasants and their families. For example, in the 1960s to 1970s, vast agricultural lands were planted with cash crops, in response to the huge demands in the international market. Despite huge profits raked in by landlords, the exploitation of the peasant women, men and their children intensified. When the demand for these crops in the world market plunged in the early 1980s, the peasants and their families experienced enormous deprivation and poverty. Hundreds of children in Negros islands (one of the major producers of sugar in the country) died of famine, malnutrition and diseases. The new world trade regime has intensified demand for agricultural products according to the changing tastes, preferences and lifestyles of people in the Northern countries and the need for raw materials by multinational corporations. The Medium Term Development Plan (MTPDP) touted by the Ramos government as the country’s vehicle to industrialization in the year 2000, is speeding up redirection of agriculture to meet these demands. The Medium Term Agricultural Development Plan (MTADP) envisages a 65% reduction i.e. 3.1 million hectares currently devoted to producing rice and corn (the basic staple food) will be converted for planting ‘high value export crops’ like asparagus, bananas, eucalyptus and cut flowers such as anthuriums and orchids. The remaining lands will also be transformed into pasturelands for cattle breeding. This will be implemented despite deep shortages in the supply of rice and corn in the country. In many of the large coconut and sugar haciendas, various schemes are afoot by the landlords, abetted by the government, to eject the peasants/tenants from the lands. In Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, 1,000 hectares of land tilled by 300 peasant families will be converted into pasture lands for foreign breed cattle. This shifting of crops to meet the needs of the international market portends greater hardship for peasant women and their families. Apart from the intensification of landlessness among peasant women and the threat to food security, there are other costs. High-value crops require intensive use of chemicals for increased productivity. Studies reveal that peasant women and their children are most vulnerable to these destructive chemicals. In the banana and pineapple plantation owned by DOLEFIL-STANFILCO in Mindanao, women agricultural workers are constantly exposed to pesticides and other agro-chemicals used extensively in most major operations of the plantations. The women are hired as ground sprayers, harvesters, canners and packers because ‘women do not smoke’ and are ‘easier to handle’. Moreover, as mothers they assume the role of family nurse and become automatic replacements for the unfinished work of their husbands and children. The MPTDP is also transforming rural communities and fertile lands into rural industrial centres (RICs): enclaves for attracting foreign investors to undertake industrial, residential and tourism projects. Of the 23 areas designated as RICs, 16 will cover about 120,000 agricultural lands. Accordingly, the Republic Act 7652, the Investors Lease Act allowing foreigners to directly lease lands up to 50-75 years, was passed. The government, through the President’s Office, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, actively takes part in defrauding and criminalizing peasants to eject them from their lands. Both government and landlords are involved in taking land from farmers and offering them for lease to foreign multinational investors. In only two years after the implementation of the MTDP, 118,000 hectares of agricultural lands have already been converted for other purposes.
Even lands distributed through the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) were not spared from confiscation. A case in point is the issue of FilEstate’s Harbortown in Batangas. This project involves building four golf courses and a luxury hotel. Many of the lands included in the project are being tilled by agrarian reform beneficiaries. The farmers discovered that their certificates were nullified without their knowledge and declared barren and eligible for conversion and subsequently sold by the government to Fil-Estate. In Panglao, Bohol, a full-blown land conversion for a tourism project is being implemented. Unfortunately, farmers within this targeted land, only 200 of whom are women, have only tax declarations to show. Very few possess land titles. They are now faced with displacement from their homes and their livelihoods. There are no relocation sites that have been provided. In a similar condition, fisherfolk have been banned from their regular fishing grounds. These problems are now luring many young rural women to look for other options of survival. Cases of young peasant women being hired as prostitutes for the beach resorts in Panglao have been reported. An initial investigation of the lives of peasant women and their families displaced in the grandiose CALABARZQN project (a development plan that aims to transform the five provinces of South Luzon namely Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon into industrial zones) shows that peasant women and their children end up in irregular jobs with very low pay and exploitative work conditions. Many women double as caddies in the golf courses developed in the tourist areas, domestic helpers in the town centres, service workers in restaurants and entertainment establishments such as karaoke bars and beer houses. This kind of work has made the women more vulnerable to sexual violence/ harassment. In Leon, Tubungan and Ingore, road-widening projects have led to the ruin of farmlands, crops and destruction of homes. Peasant women, even girls of elementary school age, are forced to look for work in the town centres as laundry women, domestic helpers, and sales ladies under these circumstances. However, there are few jobs as there are too many already looking for the same kind of work. Moreover, the middle class is increasingly doing away with hired help due to lower income. The commitment of the Philippine government to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the agricultural sector presents another grim scenario for peasant women. Commitment to reduce tariffs has resulted in free entry of all agricultural products. Even traditional products of the peasants such as onions, garlic and potatoes, earlier protected by law, are not spared. Imported garlic and the like now flood local markets. The Philippine government is pursuing dismantling of other restrictive laws to fulfill its commitment to the WTO. Of special concern to both peasants and consumers alike, is the government commitment to import rice gradually and subject to the discretion of the President. Just six months after the accession of the Philippines to the WTO in January 1995, the country rushed headlong into a severe rice crisis. Prices of rice doubled in a short time and even tripled in the rural areas. The fallout of the crisis forced millions of poor Filipinos to go hungry reducing them to one meal a day and in extreme cases, totally forgoing their consumption of this grain. The government attributed the crisis to low productivity and subsequent shortage. Millions of metric tons of rice were imported from the international market to meet the deficit. However, the efforts of militant peasant groups proved that the crisis was created to justify importation as per the government’s commitments to the WTO. These commitments have led to the undermining of the prices of the products of local farmers. In the long run, it is expected that farmers would be discouraged from producing these commodities for fear of bankruptcy. Withdrawal of farm subsidies as per the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has limited capacity to increase productivity, reducing farmers’ chances of being able to compete in the international market. A case in point is the experience of approximately 50,000 Benguet potato farmers. With the influx of machine-sliced, ready-to-fry potatoes from the United States, prices collapsed to almost half of what they were in 1990. For peasant women, these developments limit the options available to augment scarce family income. Rural women, when not involved in farming activities, are also responsible for vegetable production and poultry/livestock raising (a backyard endeavor), which are supplementary sources of food and income for the family. But even these ‘fallback’ income and food sources will be wiped out with the free entry of potatoes, garlic as well as livestock such as pigs, goats and chickens.
Finally, the Presidential order allowing bio-prospecting in the rural areas is cause for concern. Incidents of groups asking the local people to gather for them certain plants which they in turn buy at very low prices have been revealed. The running prices of these plants in dried and fresh forms is P3.00 to P5.00 or US$0.11-0.19 per kilo. Samples of these plants are ‘banaba’, ‘sambong’, ‘bayabas’, ‘damong maria’, ‘tsaang gubat’ and many more. These plants are commonly found in the rural communities and are used for their medicinal properties in treating common ailments. There are fears that these plant species will be appropriated, developed and declared as the property of some groups, diminishing access. Women and Agrarian Reform The Philippines is basically a feudal agrarian, pre-industrial economy. The feudal structure of the economy is the fundamental cause of poverty of the peasants in the rural areas. Of the 11.2 million total labour force in agriculture, 8.5 million are landless. This is based on the government data which counts men primarily as farmers and therefore part of the labour force. However, the number of landless peasant women and women farm workers approximates that of their male counterparts. This is based on the total rural female population 15 years and above, with a total number of 8 million. The tenancy system based on a 70/30 and 60/40 sharing scheme, in favour of the landlord, predominates. Therefore, millions of tenants toil under exploitative conditions. For instance, in the production of coconut meat (copra), work is done with bare hands and involves long working hours. Harvest of the crop is every three months, and every member of the family is engaged from dawn to dusk. For a hectare of land planted with 250 coconut trees, the tenant family gets a share of P130.00 or US$5 per harvest, while the landlord gets P450.00 or US$17 per harvest. Although the entire peasant family is involved, they get a meager share of the product. Similarly, in sugar plantations the quota system which is equally oppressive prevails. Here, the landlord contracts the labour of the man for the set phase of the production of sugar cane (i.e., planting of the cane seedlings) but the entire family is mobilized to finish the work contracted by the landlord. Clearly, the labour of the women and the children is both not accounted nor paid for. As much of the prime arable land is planted with export/commercial crops that benefit landlords, bureaucrats and capitalists, women are forced to till far-flung rocky uplands needed for the family’s survival. In addition, women also engage in non-agricultural activities to augment scarce family income. Prevailing patrilocal land ownership, meanwhile, incapacitates women’s access to credit and training that can result in an increase in productivity. Due to sexual division of labour, women are also burdened with housework. Proper implementation of agrarian reform (AR) requires gender equality. However, rural women have not had equal access to the fruits of AR, reflecting entrenched cultural assumptions about the worth of women’s work, and their rights to own assets and participate in decision-making. Women are clearly involved in farming, and overall, undertake more hours of work than men in rural areas. Equal by law, yet unequal in practice The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of the Philippines guarantees equal rights to rural women. “All qualified members of the agricultural workforce,” it reads, “must be guaranteed and assured equal rights to ownership of the land, an equal share of the farm’s produce, and representation in advisory or appropriate decision-making bodies” (Chapter X, Sec 40/5). Related provisions are found in the revised Civil Code of 1988, which guarantees equal property rights between husband and wife (Title VI), and in Republic Act 7192, which declares that “women shall have equal access to all government and private sector programs granting agricultural credit, loans and non-material resources and enjoy equal treatment in agrarian reform and land resettlement programs” (Section 5/2). In line with existing legislation and within the Department’s mandate, the Philippines’ Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has also issued a number of implementing guidelines, with the following pertinent sections: • Circular 04/1992: Defines DAR’s overall framework in the recognition of the role of women, i.e. in implementation, review, systems and strategies for planning, assessment, building gender disaggregated data, etc.
Circular 19/1993: States that, women should benefit and participate equally in projects, especially those funded by Overseas Development Assistance (ODA); programs/projects should explicitly state the recognition of women and their organizations as beneficiaries and participants. Circular 18/1996: Outlines the manner for issuing Emancipation Patents (EPs) and Certificates of Land Ownership and Acquisition (CLOAs); mandates that when both spouses are working and cultivating common tillage, the title is issued in the names of both spouses as co-owners, but that their ownership shall not exceed three hectares.
In practice, however, 86 per cent of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) are male (according to an Institute of Agrarian Studies study), showing a gap between intent and implementation. Peasant and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) have repeatedly called attention to this fact. In response, DAR issued the 1996 Circular instructing its personnel to reflect the names of both husband and wife in land transfer documents, such as CLOAs and EPs. How faithfully these instructions are being implemented, however, needs careful monitoring and evaluation. Data also shows that women have limited representation in officially recognized organizations and bodies related to agrarian reform. The 1996 DAR report on the status of Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) shows that, while ARC organizations are open to both sexes, membership is predominantly male (72 per cent) and only 28 per cent female. Men also largely head these organizations.
TABLE 8: Land titles and property rights Women On land titling • • • • • • • • • • • • Not applicable question Had separate land titles Issued to both names Yes No In different/not applicable No response To children To sons To daughters To spouses In different/not applicable 49.4% 2.7% 22.8% 1.1% 27.9% 12.1% 49.3% 10.7% 30.9% 0.8% 0.7% 0.6% 49.8% Men Both
Awareness to conjugal property rights
Inheritance of land title if the owner dies
Calijulat, 1997. Gender issues in agrarian reform (draft).
The inadequate representation of peasant women has likewise been noted in Agrarian Reform (AR)-related decision-making bodies, such as the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), where all six incumbent peasant representatives are male. More detailed assessment, however, is difficult to make because of the lack of benchmark data on gender issues that could be used as basis for later comparisons.
Household dynamics and decision-making In general, the women and men make decisions together, but the decision-making process is “gendered” -- men tend to have the final say in matters that concern the household’s finances, while women are left to decide on the “minor” issues. Titles to land are supposedly conjugal property but in the traditional Filipino family, such titles are frequently made out to the husband alone. The AR program has made beneficiaries aware of the importance of making the wife co-owner of the land, but cultural influences seem still to prevail. (Table 8) In money matters, except for budgeting, the husband’s opinion prevails. He decides when to harvest, how much of the produce to sell, and how much money to borrow. There is, however, a growing tendency to take these decisions jointly, an indication that AR is encouraging gender equity. (Table 9)
TABLE 9: Household decisions on farm activities among agrarian reform beneficiaries Women Planting, inputs and hiring Decisions what to plant Decisions what input to use How much input to use Where to buy inputs Who decides whom to hire 4.8% 5% 4.8% 7% 5.2% 56% 53.7% 55.5% 50.8% 53.9% 28.6% 24.4% 22.5% 23.1% 25.9% Men Both
Harvesting, selling, availing of credits and budgeting When to harvest How much to sell Availment of credit How much to borrow Decision on budgeting 5.2% 6.1% 9.2% 9.4% 53.2% 54.8% 39.3% 23.7% 22.5% 11.9% 29.3% 38.4% 43.7% 44.4% 17.8%
Table based on partial results of the household resurvey on gender status in agrarian reform (Calijulat, 1997) Women in different farming systems On subsistence farms, women do most of the work while the men are out looking for off-farm work to supplement the family income. On family-size farms, the women work hand-in-hand with the husband. On feudal-type large farms, the whole family is contracted for piece work, but the husband gets everybody’s pay. On capital-intensive plantations, the men run the farm machinery whereas the women are relegated to routine and “light” work that are usually paid much less. As tenants, the farming family can be evicted anytime, causing them much anxiety. Farm incomes are also low. Often, the burden of making ends meet falls on the wife. An owner-cultivator family earns more, but much of it is credited to the husband. Although the wife contributes to the produce, her contribution is seldom measured in cash. Meanwhile, on farms run by cooperatives, the control of jointly-held assets is frequently held by men, unless, that is, there is very high gender awareness within the cooperative.
Another set of data that shows differences in the role of women in different farming systems is taken from the article of Thelma Paris (1995) entitled “Women in Rice Farming Systems: A Preliminary Report of an Action Research Program in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan”, where she compares male and female activities in landowning and landless farmer families (Table 10). An important observation is that women in landowning families do more formwork than women in landless families. Women in the former do most of the weed-pulling, transplanting, and buying of input, while the men still do most of the “heavier” tasks. It must be economically viable because it earns a substantial income for the farmer (as much as PhP5,000) as well as cuts expenses on chemical inputs. TABLE 10. Labor participation in crop activities of farming and landless households in Carusucan, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan Programs, 1985 Crop activity Farming households (%) Male Rice Land preparation Pulling of seedling Transplanting Harvesting Threshing Buying inputs Taking palay to mill Marketing Vegetables Growing Selling 79 42 21 58 ----95 6 98 76 94 82 56 69 5 94 2 24 6 18 44 31 100 9 100 69 83 -100 100 0 91 0 31 17 -0 0 Female Landless farming households (%) Male Female
Source: Paris,T. 1995. Women in rice farming systems: A preliminary report of an action research program in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan. A gender analysis of this kind of farming has been conducted and the results are shown on Table 11. It must be emphasized that the father, mother and the children share the work in this kind of farm almost equally. The activity profile on Table 4 shows that all the family members can jointly do most of the activities. The work is also home-based so the women can participate anytime she wants, while the father and the sons can help in the housework. The foregoing shows that indeed women are very clearly involved in farming systems and seem better engaged when sustainable agriculture (SA) is practiced. A study made by Maria Francisca Viado of the Institute of Philippine Culture on field-level implementation of SA reports that although a typical SA farmer, both in the lowland and upland, is generally male, his family adequately supports him. The wife does 35.8 per cent of the work, the daughter, 21.1 per cent, the son, 33.5 per cent, and a relative, 9.5 per cent (where extra hands are needed.)
TABLE 11. Activity of profiles of peasant families of small farms Activities Production • • • • • • • • • • • Developing hillsides Maintaining hillsides Construction of buildings Preparing livestock Maintaining livestock Preparing vegetable garden Preparing feeds Preparing fertilizer compost Purchasing materials Selling of products Off-farm activities X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X Father Mother Son Daughter
Reproduction activities • • • • • • • Preparing food Gathering firewood/fetching Taking care of small chickens Washing clothes Cleaning the house Tutoring children Mending clothes X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Source: Report on Women and Food Technology Needs in the Philippines, UNIFEMWAFT Project, November 1990
Household chores and child rearing Patterns of decision-making and participation among AR households appear to be changing a bit. Among ARB households, shared housework and parenting is slowly gaining adherence. However, much remains to be done to change gender relations at the household level. (Table 12) Time allocation comparisons show that men stretch out a few jobs throughout the day, whereas women’s chores are many and widely spread out. The University of the Philippines’ Population Institute recently conducted a time-use survey for husbands and wives in rural and urban areas. It utilized both recall and diary methods. Results from the diary method yielded the following categories of time allocation: Market work: Includes paid work; Travel time: Time spent in going to the workplace;
Home production: Income generating activities done at home; Housekeeping: Regular unpaid work done for the family; Childcare: Time spent on the care of children; Leisure: Time used on recreation, including sleeping time. TABLE 12. Gender relations at household level Questions Yes 1. Do men help in household chores? 2. Do men help in child-rearing? 3. Community perceptions a. Should husbands do household chores? b. Should husbands help in childrearing? Source: Calijulat, 1997 42.7% 7.5% 52.2% 92.2% 67.9% 59.5% Response No 30.5% 37.1%
If market work is used as the measure for productive work, the husbands will seem to be contributing the most to the family. However, if, in productive work is included work at home that generates income and savings, the wives will be shown to be doing more. On this revised measure, the total number of hours spent by urban and rural men on productive work per day are 8.55 and 8.84 hours, respectively. The figures for urban and rural women are, respectively, 10.49 and 10.17 hours. Men spend much less time than women (approximately three hours less) on housekeeping and childcare. Women, on the other hand, undertake multiple chores at the same time, and thus have “a more intense day”. Patterns of time allocation for husband and wife in rural areas have an implication on agrarian reform because given the multiple tasks that women do in family-size farming systems, it might be difficult for them to take part in agrarian reform programs to advance or enhance their capacities as farmers.
III. The Feminist Movements Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely
motivated by or concerning the experiences of women. Most feminists are especially concerned with social, political, and economic inequality between men and women; some have argued that gendered and sexed identities, such as “man” and “woman,” are socially constructed. Feminists differ over the sources of inequality, how to attain equality, and the extent to which gender and sexual identities should be questioned and critiqued. Feminist political activists commonly campaign on issues such as reproductive rights (including the right to safe, legal abortion, access to contraception, and the availability of quality prenatal care), violence within a domestic partnership, maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, street harassment, and rape. Many feminists today argue that feminism is a grass-roots movement that seeks to cross boundaries based on social class, race, culture and religion; is culturally specific and addresses issues relevant to the women of that society (for example clitoridectomy or female genital cutting in Africa or the glass
ceiling in developed economies); and debate the extent to which certain issues, such as rape, incest, and mothering, are universal. Themes explored in feminism include patriarchy, stereotyping, objectification, sexual objectification, and oppression. History of Feminism Although largely originating in the West, feminism is manifested worldwide and is represented by various institutions committed to activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. Throughout most of Western history, women were confined to the domestic sphere, while public life was reserved for men. In medieval Europe, women were denied the right to own property, to study, or to participate in public life. At the end of the 19th century in France, they were still compelled to cover their heads in public, and, in parts of Germany, a husband still had the right to sell his wife. Even as late as the early 20th century, women in the United States, as in Europe, could neither vote nor hold elective office. Women were prevented from conducting business without a male representative, be it father, brother, husband, legal agent, or even son. Married women could not exercise control over their own children without the permission of their husbands. Moreover, women had little or no access to education and were barred from most professions. In some parts of the world, such restrictions on women continue today. In many counties, women were required to wear veils in public. Forced marriage was widespread. In China, female infanticide was a common practice. In India, they practice widow burning. In Africa, clitoridectomy or surgery of clitoris was a tradition. Yet despite these horrible status of women in society, there were some who were courageous enough to struggle for the equal rights of women. Advocates of equality of the sexes and the rights of women can be found throughout history. 1. In the ancient world In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war. In the 3rd century BC, Roman women filled the Capitoline Hill and blocked every entrance to the Forum when consul Marcus Porcius Cato resisted attempts to repeal laws limiting women’s use of expensive goods. “If they are victorious now, what will they not attempt?” Cato cried. “As soon as they begin to be your equals, they will have become your superiors.” That rebellion proved exceptional, however. For most of recorded history, only isolated voices spoke out against the inferior status of women, presaging the arguments to come. In late 14th century Empress Theodora of Byzantium was a proponent of legislation that would afford greater protections and freedoms to her female subjects. In France, Christine de Pisan, the first professional female writer and feminist philosopher, advanced many feminist ideas as early as the 1300s, in the face of attempts to restrict female inheritance and guild membership. She challenged prevailing attitudes toward women with a bold call for female education. During the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity” marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage. In15th-century, Laura Cereta, a Venetian woman, published her Epistolae familiares (1488; “Personal Letters”; Eng. trans. Collected Letters of a Renaissance Feminist), a volume of letters dealing with a panoply of women’s complaints, from denial of education and marital oppression to the frivolity of women’s attire. However, feminism as a widespread philosophy and social movement would not solidify for several more centuries. The defense of women had become a literary subgenre by the end of the 16th century, when Il merito delle donne (1600; The Worth of Women), a feminist broadside by another Venetian author, Moderata Fonte, was published posthumously. Defenders of the status quo painted women as superficial and inherently immoral, while the emerging feminists produced long lists of women of courage and accomplishment and proclaimed that women would be the intellectual equals of men if they were given equal access to education.
The so-called “debate about women” did not reach England until the late 16th century, when pamphleteers and polemicists joined battle over the true nature of womanhood. After a series of satiric pieces mocking women was published, the first feminist pamphleteer in England, writing as Jane Anger, responded with Jane Anger, Her Protection for Women (1589). This volley of opinion continued for more than a century, until another English author, Mary Astell, issued a more reasoned rejoinder in A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1694, 1697). The two-volume work suggested that women inclined neither toward marriage nor a religious vocation should set up secular convents where they might live, study, and teach. 2. Influence of the Enlightenment The feminist voices of the Renaissance never coalesced into a coherent philosophy or movement. This happened only with the Enlightenment, an era of political ferment marked by revolutions in France, Germany, and Italy and the rise of abolitionism (abolition of slaves). Women began to demand that the new reformist rhetoric about liberty, equality, and natural rights be applied to both sexes. Initially, Enlightenment philosophers focused on the inequities of social class and caste to the exclusion of gender. Swiss-born French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for example, portrayed women as silly and frivolous creatures, born to be subordinate to men. In addition, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which defined French citizenship after the revolution of 1789, pointedly failed to address the legal status of women. Female intellectuals of the Enlightenment were quick to point out this lack of inclusivity and the limited scope of reformist rhetoric. Women thinkers such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Marquis de Condorcet champions women’s education. The first scientific society for women was founded in Middleburg, a city in the south of the Dutch republic in 1785. Journals for women which focused on issues like science became popular during this period as well. Olympe de Gouges, a noted playwright, published Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne (1791; “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the [Female] Citizen”), declaring women to be not only man’s equal but his partner. The following year Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), one of the first works that can unambiguously be called feminist, was published in England. Challenging the notion that women exist only to please men, she proposed that women and men be given equal opportunities in education, work, and politics. Women, she wrote, are as naturally rational as men. If they are silly, it is only because society trains them to be irrelevant. The utopian socialist Charles Fourier coined the word féminisme in 1837; as early as 1808, he had argued that the extension of women’s rights was the general principle of all social progress. In 1869, Jphn Stuart Mill published The Subjection of Women to demonstrate that “the legal subordination of one sex to the other is wrong...and...one of the chief hindrances to human improvement.” In the United States, feminist activism took root when female abolitionists sought to apply the concepts of freedom and equality to their own social and political situations. Their work brought them in contact with female abolitionists in England who were reaching the same conclusions. By the mid-19th century, issues surrounding feminism had added to the tumult of social change, with ideas being exchanged across Europe and North America. In the first feminist article she dared sign with her own name, Louise Otto, a German, built on the work of Charles Fourier, a French social theorist, quoting his dictum that “by the position which women hold in a land, you can see whether the air of a state is thick with dirty fog or free and clear.” And after Parisian feminists began publishing a daily newspaper entitled La Voix des femmes (“The Voice of Women”) in 1848, Luise Dittmar, a German writer, followed suit one year later with her journal, Soziale Reform. These debates and discussions culminated in the first women’s rights convention on July 1848 in the small town of Seneca Falls, New York. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea that sprang up during a social gathering of Lucretia Mott, a Quaker preacher and veteran social activist, Martha Wright (Mott’s sister), Mary Ann McClintock, Jane Hunt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the wife of an abolitionist and the only non-Quaker in the group. The convention was planned with five days’ notice, publicized only by a small unsigned advertisement in a local newspaper.
Stanton drew up the “Declaration of Sentiments” that guided the Seneca Falls Convention. Using the Declaration of Independence as her guide to proclaim that “all men and women [had been] created equal,” she drafted 11 resolutions, including the most radical demand—the right to the vote. With Frederick Douglass, a former slave, arguing eloquently on their behalf, all 11 resolutions passed, and Mott even won approval of a final declaration “for the overthrowing of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to woman equal participation with men in the various trades, professions and commerce.” Yet by emphasizing education and political rights that were the privileges of the upper classes, the embryonic feminist movement had little connection with ordinary women cleaning houses in Liverpool or picking cotton in Georgia. The single nonwhite woman’s voice heard at this time—that of Sojourner Truth, a daughter of slaves—symbolized the distance between the ordinary and the elite. Her famous Ain’t I a Woman speech was delivered in 1851 before the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, but Truth did not dedicate her life to women’s rights. Instead, she promoted abolitionism and a land-distribution program for former slaves. In the speech, Truth remarked, “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?” Although Seneca Falls was followed by women’s rights conventions in other states, the interest spurred by those first moments of organizing quickly faded. Concern in the United States turned to the pending Civil War, while, in Europe, the reformism of the 1840s gave way to the repression of the late 1850s. When the feminist movement rebounded, it became focused on a single issue, woman suffrage, a goal that would dominate international feminism for almost 70 years. Many countries began to grant women the vote in the late 1800s and early years of the 20th century New Zealand being first in 1893, with the help of suffragist Kate Sheppard, especially in the final years of the First World War onwards. The reasons varied, but they included a desire to recognize the contributions of women during the war, and were also influenced by rhetoric used by both sides at the time to justify their war efforts. For example, since Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points recognized self determination as vital to society, the hypocrisy of denying half the population of modern nations the vote became difficult for men to ignore. After the U.S. Civil War, American feminists assumed that woman suffrage would be included in the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited disfranchisement on the basis of race. Yet leading abolitionists refused to support such inclusion, which prompted Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a temperance activist, to form the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. At first, they based their demand for the vote on the Enlightenment principle of natural law, regularly invoking the concept of inalienable rights granted to all Americans by the Declaration of Independence. By 1900, however, the American passion for such principles as equality had been dampened by a flood of Eastern European immigrants and the growth of urban slums. Suffragist leaders, reflecting that shift in attitude, began appealing for the vote not on the principle of justice or on the common humanity of men and women but on racist and nativist grounds. As early as 1894, in a speech, Carrie Chapman Catt declared that the votes of literate, American-born, middle-class women would balance the votes of foreigners: “[C]ut off the vote of the slums and give to woman…the ballot.” This elitist inclination widened the divide between feminists and the masses of American women who lived in those slums or spoke with foreign accents. As a result, working-class women already more concerned with wages, hours, and protective legislation than with either the vote or issues such as women’s property rights—threw themselves into the trade union movement rather than the feminists’ ranks. Anthony, however, ceded no ground. In the 1890s, she asked for labour’s support for woman suffrage but insisted that she and her movement would do nothing about the demands made by working women until her own battle had been won. Similarly, when asked to support the fight against Jim Crow segregation on the nation’s railroads, she refused. Radical feminists challenged the single-minded focus on suffrage as the sine qua non of women’s liberation. Emma Goldman, the nation’s leading anarchist, mocked the notion that the ballot could secure equality for women, since it hardly accomplished that for the majority of American men. Women would gain their freedom, she said, only “by refusing the right to anyone over her body…by refusing to be a servant to God, the state, society, the husband, the family, etc., by making her life simpler but deeper and richer.” Likewise, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in Women and Economics (1898), insisted that women would not be liberated until they were freed from the “domestic mythology” of home and family that kept them dependent on men.
Mainstream feminist leaders such as Stanton succeeded in marginalizing more extreme demands such as Goldman’s and Gilman’s, but they failed to secure the vote for women. It was not until a different kind of radical, Alice Paul, reignited the woman suffrage movement in the United States by copying English activists. Like the Americans, British suffragists, led by the National Union of Woman Suffrage Societies, had initially approached their struggle politely, with ladylike lobbying. But in 1903, a dissident faction led by Emmeline Pankhurst began a series of boycotts, bombings, and pickets. Their tactics ignited the nation, and, in 1918, the British Parliament extended the vote to women householders, householders’ wives, and female university graduates over the age of 30.
Origin of International Women’s Day The main historical reference of International Women’s Day is based on the strikes that were made by American female workers in 1857 and in 1911 in New York City. These strikes were a protest by the female workers against the miserable working conditions they were forced to endure. One event was particularly significant to these demonstrations. On March 25th 1911, a group of female workers, who were demonstrating in a textile factory in New York, died as a result of a fire. These women were not able to escape from the fire because the doors of the factory were locked. The doors had been locked in order to ensure that the workers would not leave before the end of the workday. Another important historical reference is the Second International Conference of socialist women, which took place in 1910 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here, the German socialist leader, Clara Zetkin, proposed to create an international day for women, so as to recognize the struggle undertaken by women worldwide. Another intriguing reference is the relation between March 8th and the participation of female workers in the Russian Revolution. On February 23rd 1917, of the Russian calendar, or March 8th of the Gregorian calendar, female workers descended onto the streets in a massive general strike. This strike was later said to have been one of the major actions that brought about the beginning of the Russian Revolution. In 1977, two years after the International Women’s Year, The United Nations adopted a resolution inviting Member States to observe a day for the celebration of the rights of women and international peace. Consequently, March 8th has become a day of recognition of the rights of women in many countries in the World.
In 1909, the first National Woman’s Day was observed in the United States on 28 February. The Socialist Party of America designated March 8 in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions. Following the British lead, Paul’s forces, the “shock troops” of the American suffrage crusade, organized mass demonstrations, parades, and confrontations with the police. In 1920, feminism claimed its first major triumph with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. American women gained the right to vote by constitutional amendment, but their participation in the workplace remained limited, and prevailing notions tended to confine women to the home. Milestones in the rise of modern feminism included Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) and the founding in 1966 of the National Organization for Women.
3. Contemporary feminism in the West > The postsuffrage era Once the crucial goal of suffrage had been achieved, the feminist movement virtually collapsed in both Europe and the United States. Lacking an ideology beyond the achievement of the vote, feminism fractured into a dozen splinter groups: the Women’s Joint Congressional Committee, a lobbying group, fought for legislation to promote education and maternal and infant health care; the League of Women Voters organized voter registration and education drives; and the Women’s Trade Union League launched a campaign for protective labour legislation for women. [Encyclopædia Britannica] Each of these groups offered some civic contribution, but none was specifically feminist in nature. Filling the vacuum, the National Woman’s Party, led by Paul, proposed a new initiative meant to remove discrimination from American laws and move women closer to equality through an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) that would ban any government-sanctioned discrimination based on sex. Infighting began because many feminists were not looking for strict equality; they were fighting for laws that would directly benefit women. Paul, however, argued that protective legislation—such as laws mandating maximum eight-hour shifts for female factory workers—actually closed the door of opportunity on women by imposing costly rules on employers, who would then be inclined to hire fewer women. Questions abounded. Could women be freed from discrimination without damaging the welfare and protective apparatus so many needed? What was feminism—a movement to create full equality, or a movement that would respond to the needs of women? And if the price of equality was the absence of protection, how many women really wanted equality? The debate was not limited to the United States. Some proponents of women’s rights, such as Aletta Jacobs of The Netherlands or Beatrice Webb of England, agreed with Paul’s demand for equality and opposed protective legislation for women. Women members of trade unions, however, defended the need for laws that would help them. This philosophical dispute was confined to relatively rarefied circles. Throughout the United States, as across Europe, Americans believed that women had achieved their liberation. Women were voting, although in small numbers and almost exactly like their male counterparts. Even Suzanne LaFollette, a radical feminist, concluded in 1926 that women’s struggle “is very largely won.” Before any flaws in that pronouncement could be probed, the nation—and the world—plunged into the Great Depression. Next, World War II largely obliterated feminist activism on any continent. The war did open employment opportunities for women—from working in factories (“Rosie the Riveter” became an American icon) to playing professional baseball—but these doors of opportunity were largely closed after the war, when women routinely lost their jobs to men discharged from military service. This turn of events angered many women, but few were willing to mount any organized protest. In the United States, the difficulties of the preceding 15 years were followed by a new culture of domesticity. Women began marrying younger and having more children than they had in the 1920s. Such television programs as Father Knows Best and Ozzie and Harriet reflected what many observers called an idyllic suburban life. By 1960, the percentage of employed female professionals was down compared with figures for 1930. 4. Contemporary feminism in the West > The “second wave” of feminism The women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called “second wave” of feminism, represented a seemingly abrupt break with the tranquil suburban life pictured in American popular culture. Yet the roots of the new rebellion were buried in the frustrations of college-educated mothers whose discontent impelled their daughters in a new direction. If first-wave feminists were inspired by the abolition movement, their great-granddaughters were swept into feminism by the civil rights movement, the attendant discussion of principles such as equality and justice, and the revolutionary ferment caused by protests against the Vietnam War. Women’s concerns were on President John F. Kennedy’s agenda even before this public discussion began. In 1961 he created the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to lead it. Its report, issued in 1963, firmly supported the nuclear family and preparing women for motherhood. But it also documented a national pattern of employment discrimination, unequal pay,
legal inequality, and meagre support services for working women that needed to be corrected through legislative guarantees of equal pay for equal work, equal job opportunities, and expanded child-care services. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 offered the first guarantee, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. Some deemed these measures insufficient in a country where classified advertisements still segregated job openings by sex, where state laws restricted women’s access to contraception, or where incidences of rape and domestic violence remained undisclosed. In the late 1960s, then, the notion of a women’s rights movement took root at the same time as the civil rights movement, and women of all ages and circumstances were swept up in debates about gender, discrimination, and the nature of equality. 5. Contemporary feminism in the West > The “second wave” of feminism > Dissension and debate Mainstream groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) launched a campaign for legal equity, while ad hoc groups staged sit-ins and marches for any number of reasons—from assailing college curricula that lacked female authors to promoting the use of the word Ms. as a neutral form of address—that is, once that did not refer to marital status. Health collectives and rape crisis centres were established. Children’s books were rewritten to obviate sexual stereotypes. Women’s studies departments were founded at colleges and universities. Protective labour laws were overturned. Employers found to have discriminated against female workers were required to compensate with back pay. Excluded from maledominated occupations for decades, women began finding jobs as pilots, construction workers, soldiers, bankers, and bus drivers. [Encyclopædia Britannica] Unlike the first wave, second-wave feminism provoked extensive theoretical discussion about the origins of women’s oppression, the nature of gender, and the role of the family. Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics made the best-seller list in 1970, and in it she broadened the term politics to include all “power-structured relationships” and posited that the personal was actually political. Shulamith Firestone, a founder of the New York Radical Feminists, published The Dialectic of Sex in the same year, insisting that love disadvantaged women by creating intimate shackles between them and the men they loved—men who were also their oppressors. One year later, Germaine Greer, an Australian living in London, published The Female Eunuch, in which she argued that the sexual repression of women cuts them off from the creative energy they need to be independent and self-fulfilled. Any attempt to create a coherent, all-encompassing feminist ideology was doomed. While most could agree on the questions that needed to be asked about the origins of gender distinctions, the nature of power, or the roots of sexual violence, the answers to those questions were bogged down by ideological hairsplitting, name-calling, and mutual recrimination. Even the term liberation could mean different things to different people. Feminism became a river of competing eddies and currents. “Anarcho-feminists,” who found a larger audience in Europe than in the United States, resurrected Emma Goldman and said that women could not be liberated without dismantling such institutions as the family, private property, and state power. Individualist feminists, calling on libertarian principles of minimal government, broke with most other feminists over the issue of turning to government for solutions to women’s problems. “Amazon feminists” celebrated the mythical female heroine and advocated liberation through physical strength. And separatist feminists, including many lesbian feminists, preached that women could not possibly liberate themselves without at least a period of separation from men. Ultimately, three major streams of thought surfaced. The first was liberal, or mainstream, feminism, which focused its energy on concrete and pragmatic change at an institutional and governmental level. Its goal was to integrate women more thoroughly into the power structure and to give women equal access to positions men had traditionally dominated. While aiming for strict equality (to be evidenced by an equal number of women and men in positions of power, or an equal amount of money spent on male and female student athletes), these liberal feminist groups nonetheless supported the modern equivalent of protective legislation such as special workplace benefits for mothers. In contrast to the pragmatic approach taken by liberal feminism, radical feminism aimed to reshape society and restructure its institutions, which they saw as inherently patriarchal. Providing the core theory
for modern feminism, radicals argued that women’s subservient role in society was too closely woven into the social fabric to be unraveled without a revolutionary revamping of society itself. They strove to supplant hierarchical and traditional power relationships they saw as reflecting a male bias, and they sought to develop nonhierarchical and antiauthoritarian approaches to politics and organization. Finally, cultural or “difference” feminism, the last of the three currents, rejected the notion that men and women are intrinsically the same and celebrated women’s differences, such as their greater concern for affective relationships and their nurturing preoccupation with others. Inherent in its message was a critique of mainstream feminism’s attempt to enter traditionally male spheres. This was seen as denigrating women’s natural inclinations by attempting to make women more like men. 6. Contemporary feminism in the West > The “second wave” of feminism > The race factor Like first-wave feminism, the second wave was largely defined and led by the educated middle-class white women who built the movement primarily around their own concerns. This created an ambivalent, if not contentious, relationship with women of other classes and races. The campaign against employment and wage discrimination helped bridge the gap between the movement and labour union women. But the relationship of feminism to African American women always posed greater challenges. White feminists defined gender as the principal source of their exclusion from full participation in American life; black women were forced to confront the interplay between racism and sexism and to figure out how to make black men think about gender issues while making white women think about racial issues. The call by white feminists for unity and solidarity was based on their assumption that women constituted a gender-based class or caste that was unified by common oppression. Many black women had difficulty seeing white women as their feminist sisters; in the eyes of many African Americans, after all, white women were as much the oppressor as white men. “How relevant are the truths, the experiences, the findings of White women to Black women?” asked Toni Cade Bambara in The Black Woman: An Anthology (1970). “I don’t know that our priorities are the same, that our concerns and methods are the same.” As far back as Sojourner Truth, black feminists had seen white feminists as incapable of understanding their concerns. Yet some black women, especially middle-class black women, also insisted that it was fundamentally different to be black and female than to be black and male. During the first conference of the National Black Feminist Organization, held in New York City in 1973, black women activists acknowledged that many of the goals central to the mainstream feminist movement—day care, abortion, maternity leave, violence—were critical to African American women as well. On specific issues, then, African American feminists and white feminists built an effective working relationship. 7. Feminism spread worldwide Twentieth-century European and American feminism eventually reached into Asia, Africa, and Latin America. As this happened, women in developed countries, especially intellectuals, were horrified to discover that women in some countries were required to wear veils in public or to endure forced marriage, female infanticide, widow burning, or clitoridectomy. Many Western feminists soon perceived themselves as saviours of Third World women, little realizing that their perceptions of and solutions to social problems were often at odds with the real lives and concerns of women in these regions. In many parts of Africa, for example, the status of women had begun to erode significantly only with the arrival of European colonialism. In those regions, then, the notion that patriarchy was the chief problem—rather than European imperialism—seemed absurd. The conflicts between women in developed and developing nations have played out most vividly at international conferences. After the 1980 World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace in Copenhagen, women from less-developed nations complained that the veil and female genital surgery had been chosen as conference priorities without consulting the women most concerned. It seemed that their counterparts in the West were not listening to them. During the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, women from the Third World protested outside because they believed the agenda had been hijacked by Europeans and Americans. The protesters had expected to talk about ways that underdevelopment was holding women back. Instead, conference organizers chose to focus on contraception and abortion. “[Third World women] noted that
they could not very well worry about other matters when their children were dying from thirst, hunger or war,” wrote Azizah al-Hibri, a law professor and scholar of Muslim women’s rights. “The conference instead centered around reducing the number of Third World babies in order to preserve the earth’s resources, despite (or is it ‘because of’) the fact that the First World consumes much of these resources.” Even in Beijing, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, Third World women criticized the priority American and European women put on reproductive rights language and issues of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and their disinterest in the platform proposal that was most important to lessdeveloped nations—that of restructuring international debt. Still, around the world, women are advancing their interests, although often in fits and starts. Feminism was derailed in countries such as Afghanistan, where the staunchly reactionary and antifeminist Taliban banned even the education of girls. Elsewhere, however, feminism achieved significant gains for women, as seen in the eradication of female genital surgery in many African countries or government efforts to end widow burning in India. More generally, and especially in the West, feminism has influenced every aspect of contemporary life, communication, and debate, from the heightened concern over sexist language to the rise of academic fields such as women’s studies and eco-feminism. Sports, divorce laws, sexual mores, organized religion—all have been affected, in many parts of the world, by feminism. Yet questions remain: How will Western feminism deal with the dissension in its ranks, from women who believe the movement has gone too far and grown too radical? How uniform and successful can feminism be at the global level? Can the problems confronting women in the mountains of Pakistan or the deserts of the Middle East be addressed in isolation, or must such issues be pursued through international forums? Given the economic, political, and cultural situations that vary from country to country, the answer to these questions may look quite different in Nairobi than in New York. Different Forms of Feminism Feminism has been principally a movement within the Western societies in the 20th Century. Some limited advances have been made in some non-Western countries; but the movement has been principally Western in origin and effects. Feminists hope that their movement will have an equal impact across the rest of the world in the 21st century. Some forms of feminist theory question basic assumptions about gender, gender difference, and sexuality, including the category of “woman” itself as a holistic concept, further some are interested in questioning the male/female dichotomy completely (offering instead a multiplicity of genders). Other forms of feminist theory take for granted the concept of “woman” and provide specific analyses and critiques of gender inequality, and most feminist social movements promote women’s rights, interests, and issues. Over-time several sub-types of feminist ideology have developed. Early feminists and primary feminist movements are often called the first-wave feminists, and feminists after about 1960 the second-wave feminists. More recently, some members of younger generations of feminists have identified themselves with a “thirdwave” of feminism while the second-wave continues to be active. One subtype of feminists, Radical feminists, consider patriarchy to be the root cause of the most serious social problems. This form of feminism was popular in the second wave, though is not as prominent today. Some find that the prioritization of oppression that Radical feminists did was too universalizing and that women in other countries may find race instead of gender to be the root oppression that they may face. Some radical feminists, such as Mary Daly, Chrlotte Bunch, and Marilyn Frye, have advocated separatism— a complete separation of male and female in society and culture— while others question not only the relationship between men and women, but the very meaning of “man” and “woman” as well (see Queer theory); some argue that gender roles, gender identity, and sexuality are themselves social constructs (see also heteronormativity). For these feminists, feminism is a primary means to human liberation (i.e., the liberation of men as well as women, and men and women from other social problems). Other feminists believe that there may be social problems separate from or prior to patriarchy (e.g., racism or class divisions); they see feminism as one movement of liberation among many, each with effects on each other. In her book A Fearful Freedom: Women’s Flight from Equality, Wendy Kaminer identifies another conflict between forms of feminism, the conflict between what she calls “egalitarian” and “protectionist” feminism.
In her characterization, egalitarian feminists focus on promoting equality between women and men, and giving women and men equal rights. Protectionist feminists prefer to focus on legal protections for women, such as employment laws that specially protect female workers and divorce laws that seem to favor women, sometimes advocating restricting rights for men, such as free speech (specifically, the right to produce and consume pornography). Though the book predates third-wave feminism, Kaminer identifies both protectionist and egalitarian currents within first-wave feminism and second-wave feminism. While many leaders of feminism have been women, not all feminists are women. There are a number of exclusively male groups which are sympathetic to feminist understandings of society and believe the dominant model of manhood or masculinity is oppressive to women, as well as limiting for men themselves. There is debate about feminism concerning which types should exclusively be labeled, or considered. There are also overlapping beliefs such as in oppression by patriarchy and/or capitalism, or the belief they are one in the same.
Subtypes of feminism Amazon feminism Anarcha-Feminism Anti-racist feminism Black Feminism Chicana Feminism material feminism New feminism pop feminism post-colonial feminism postmodern feminism which includes queer theory pro-sex feminism (also known as sexually liberal feminism, sex-positive feminism, do me feminism) psychoanalytic feminism radical feminism separatist feminism socialist feminism spiritual feminism standpoint feminism third-world feminism transnational feminism transfeminism womanism Certain actions, approaches and people can also be described as proto-feminist or post-feminist.
Difference feminism ecofeminism equity feminism existentialist feminism feminism in Japan French feminism gender feminism individualist feminism (also known as libertarian lesbian feminism liberal feminism male feminism or Pro-feminist men Marxist feminism (related to socialist feminism)
Relationship to other movements Some feminists take a holistic approach to politics, believing the saying of Martin Luther King Jr., “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. In that belief, some self-identified feminists support other movements such as the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement. At the same time, many black feminists such as bell hooks criticize the movement for being dominated by white women. Feminist claims about the alleged disadvantages women face in Western society are often less relevant to the lives of black women. This idea is the key in postcolonial feminism. Many black feminist women prefer the term womanism for their views. Some feminists are wary of the transgender movement because they view it as challenging the distinction between men and women. Transgender and transsexual individuals who identify as female are excluded from some “women-only” gatherings and events and are rejected by some feminists, who say that no one who was assigned as male at birth can fully understand the oppression that women face. This exclusion is criticized as :”transphobid” by transgender people, who assert that their political and social struggles are linked to those of feminists, and that discrimination against gender-variant people is a facet of the patriarchy. Modern Feminism Most feminists believe discrimination against women still exists in North American and European nations, as well as worldwide. But there are many ideas within the movement regarding the severity of current problems, what the problems are, and how best to confront them. Extremes on the one hand include some radical feminists such as Gloria Allred and also Mary Daly who argues that human society would be better off with dramatically fewer men. There are also dissidents, such as Christina Hoff Sommers or Camille Paglia, who identify themselves as feminist but who accuse the movement of anti-male prejudice. Many feminists question the use of the term feminist to groups or people who fail to recognize a fundamental equality between the sexes. Some feminists, like Katha Politt (see her book Reasonable Creatures) or Nadine Strossen (President of the ACLU and author of Defending Pornography [a treatise on freedom of speech]), consider feminism to be, solely, the view that “women are people.” Views that separate the sexes rather than unite them are considered by these people to be sexist rather than feminist. There are also debates between difference feminists such as Carol Gilligan on the one hand, who believe that there are important differences between the sexes (which may or may not be inherent, but which cannot be ignored), and those who believe that there are no essential differences between the sexes, and that the roles observed in society are due to conditioning. In Marilyn French’s seminal works analyzing patriarchy and its effects on the world at large--including women, men and children--she defines patriarchy as a system that values power over life, control over pleasure, and dominance over happiness. According to French, “it is not enough either to devise a morality that will allow the human race simply to survive. Survival is an evil when it entails existing in a state of wretchedness. Intrinsic to survival and continuation is felicity, pleasure. Pleasure has been much maligned, diminished by philosophers and conquerors as a value for the timid, the smallminded, the self-indulgent. “Virtue” involves the renunciation of pleasure in the name of some higher purpose, a purpose that involves power (for men) or sacrifice (for women). Pleasure is described as shallow and frivolous in a world of high-minded, serious purpose. But pleasure does not exclude serious pursuits or intentions, indeed, it is found in them, and it is the only real reason for staying alive” . This philosophy is what Marilyn French offers as a replacement to the current structure where power has the highest value. Carol Tayris, author of Anger: the Misunderstood Emotion and The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex, maintains that as long as men’s experiences are considered to be the default human experiences, women will always face discrimination in North America or elsewhere. She holds that too much emphasis is placed on innate differences between men and woman, and that it has been used to justify the restriction of women’s rights.
Effect on language Many English-speaking feminists are often proponents of what they consider to be non-sexist language, using “Ms” to refer to both married and unmarried women or “he or she” (or other gender-neutral pronouns) in place of “he” where the gender is unknown. Feminists are also often proponents of using gender-inclusive language, such as “humanity” instead of “mankind”. Feminists in most cases advance their desired use of language either to promote what they claim is an equal and respectful treatment of women or to affect the tone of political discourse. This can be seen as a move to change language which has been viewed by some feminists as imbued with sexism, providing for example the case in the English language in which the word for the general pronoun is “he” or “his” (The child should have his paper and pencils), which is the same as the masculine pronoun (The boy and his truck). These feminists argue that language then directly affects perception of reality (compare Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis). In postcolonial feminism the issue of language is often less emphasized as many non-Indo-European languages do not have grammatical gender. A different tendency can be seen in feminism inspired changes to the French language. Gender, as a grammatical concept, is much more pervasive in French than in English, and as a result, it has been virtually impossible to create inclusive language. Instead, nouns that originally had only a masculine form have had feminine counterparts created for them. “Professeur” (“teacher”), once always masculine regardless of the teacher’s sex, now has a parallel feminine form “Professeuse”. In cases where separate masculine and feminine forms have always existed, it was once standard practice for a group containing both men and women to be referred to using the masculine plural. Nowadays, forms such as “Tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes” (“all Canadians”, or literally “all the male Canadians and female Canadians”) are becoming more common. Such phrasing is common in Canada, and in France, where President Jacques Chirac routinely uses “Françaises et Français” (French women and French men) in political speeches, but practically unknown in other French-speaking countries. Effect on heterosexual relationships The feminist movements have altered the nature of heterosexual relationships in Western and other societies affected by feminism. In some of these relationships, there has been a change in the power relationship between men and women. In these circumstances, men and women have had to adapt to relatively new situations, sometimes causing confusions about role and identity. Women can now avail themselves more to new opportunities, but some have suffered with the demands of trying to live up to the so-called “superwomen” identity, and have struggled to ‘have it all’, i.e. manage to happily balance a career and family. In response to the family issue, many socialist feminists blame this on the lack of stateprovided child-care facilities. Others have advocated instead that full responsibility for child care must not rest solely on women, but rather that men should also be responsible for managing family matters. Some men counter that this expectation is unrealistic, claiming that a de-emphasis on breadwinning would be injurious to their ability to attract mates; while many women have the choice to try to “have it all”, they claim that societal expectations placed on men preclude them from devoting themselves further to domestic chores and childrearing. Several studies support the view that, although men are derided for not devoting enough time to childrearing and domestic tasks, few women seem attracted to men who engage in these activities to the detriment of their careers. Some argue that the fact men devote less time to household chores is due to the fact that they devote more time to work outside the home. (finding, “According to the International Labor Organization, the average American father works 51 hours a week, whereas those mothers of young children who do work full time (themselves in the minority) work a 41hour week.” . In addition, they have argued that women hold the power of the relationship because they direct the majority of purchases (and men direct the few large purchases) made by a household . As a counter to these arguments, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild’s books The Second Shift and The Time Bind present evidence that married men contribute much less time towards child care and housework than their wives do. However, Hochschild presented statistical evidence that this was not the case for two-career couples: according to the studies she cites, in two-career couples, men and women on the average spend about equal amounts of time working, but women still spend more time on housework. Hochschild’s work mainly centers on two-career couples, but most disputes about the role of men in child care and domestic work center around two-career couples: feminist critiques of men’s contribution to child care and domestic labor are typically centered around the idea that it is unfair for the woman to be
expected to perform more than half of a household’s domestic work and child care when both members of a couple also work outside the home. In general, in couples where one or both partners do not work outside the home, gender-based division of labor is less of a point of contention for feminists. (For more discussion of this point, see Joyce Jacobson’s The Economics of Gender). In addition, a number of studies provide statistical evidence for the claim that married men do not contribute an equal share of housework, regardless of they or their wives’ paid work loads  . These studies suggest that married men may actually create more domestic work for women, by virtue of their presence in the house, than the amount of work they perform themselves. The preceding arguments mainly apply to middle-class women. In her 1996 book Dubious Conceptions, Kristin Luker discusses the effect of feminism on teenage women’s choices to bear a child, both within and outside of marriage. She argues that as bearing a child without being married has become more socially acceptable for women, young women -- while not bearing children at a higher rate than in the 1950s -have come to see less of a reason to get married before having a child, especially poor young women. As reasons for this, she argues that the economic prospects for poor men are slim, meaning that poor women have a low chance of finding a husband who will provide reliable financial support, and that husbands tend to create more domestic work than they contribute. Though the feminist movement has had minimal impact on those two factors, it may have contributed to the increasing social acceptability of bearing children outside of marriage. There have been changes also in attitudes towards sexual morality and behavior with the onset of second wave feminism and “the Pill”; women are then more in control of their bodies, and are able to experience sex with more freedom than was previously socially accepted for them. This sexual revolution that women were then able to experience was seen as positive (especially by sex-positive feminists) as it enabled women and men to experience sex in a free and equal manner. However, some feminists felt that the results of the sexual revolution were beneficial only to men. Feminists have debated whether marriage is an institution that oppresses women and men. Those who do view it as oppressive sometimes opt for cohabitation, open marriage or more recently to live independently reverting to casual sex to fulfill their sexual needs. Evangelical (Christian) feminists sometimes argue that life-long monogamy ideally promotes egalitarianism in sex, especially when viewed in light of other common alternatives to monogamy (i.e. polygamy, swinging, open marriage, prostitution, or infidelity. On the other hand, Friedrich Engels’s essay Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State -- sometimes considered an early feminist work -- argues that monogamy was originally conceived of as a way for men to control women. In addition, some modern feminists endorse polyanmory and open marriage as egalitarian lifestyles (see sex-positive feminism). Effect on religion Many feminists say the society in which the Bible is written was patriarchal, and that the use of male words for God would have been expected. Some Christian and Jewish objectors to gender-sensitive translations hold that there are profound theological reasons for masculine references to God, whereas feminine references have pagan connotations that cannot be avoided. An argument for using female symbols for God arises from the practical effects of God-language on the readers. Imagery for God helps people understand the world. The way a faith community talks about God indicates what it considers the highest good, the profoundest truth. This language, in turn, molds the community’s behavior, as well as its members’ self-understanding. The fact that Jews and Christians ordinarily speak about God in the image of a male ruler can be problematic. For feminist theology, the difficulty does not lie with the male metaphors. Men as well as women are created in the image of God. The problem lies in the fact that the specific male images reflect a patriarchal arrangement of the world, casting God into the mold of an omnipotent, even if benevolent, monarch. God’s maternal relation to the world is eclipsed. Some traditional religious figures reject gender sensitive translations, and reject feminine names for God, as feminine names cannot be ascribed God, as God created the universe ex nihilo. In this view, it is proper for God to beget (as fathers are often conceived of acting), rather than for God to be the passive recipient of begetting (as mothers are often conceived of as acting). This is related to creation ex nihilo, as a feminine deity would have birthed the universe, making it a “part” of herself in much the same manner as children can be spoken of as “parts of their mothers.”
Feminism has had a great effect on many aspects of religion. One was the rising of what they call as Feminist theology -- a movement, generally in the Western religious traditions (mostly Christianity and Judaism), to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting the male-dominated images of God, and including more female imagery among the myths and language of the faith. [Wacklepedia - The Free Encyclopedia] • In liberal branches of Protestant Christianity, (and also in some theologically conservative dominations, such as Assemblies of God women are now ordained as clergy. Within these Christian groups, woman have gradually become equal to men by obtaining positions of power; their perspectives are now sought out in developing new statements of belief. In reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism, women are now ordained as rabbis and cantors. Within these Jewish groups, woman have gradually become more nearly equal to men by obtaining positions of power; their perspectives are now sought out in developing new statements of belief. These trends have been resisted within Islam; all the mainstream denominations of Islam forbid Muslim women from being recognized as religious clergy and scholars in the same way that Muslim men are accepted. The leadership of women in religious matters has been resisted within Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism has historically excluded women from entering priesthood and other positions in clergy, allowing women to hold positions as nuns or as laypeople. On July 30, 2004, Pope John Paul II gave his blessings to a 37-page document, On The Collaboration Of Men And Women In The Church And In The World, and said: Feminism weakens family and promotes homosexuality. The document accuses the feminist revolution of “antagonism” and of creating a spirit of competition between men and women. The principal author of the report was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who succeeded Pope Pope John Paul II. • In Islam, there is now debate as to whether or not a woman can lead men in prayers, which is traditionally prohibited. However, some Islamic scholars do believe that gender is not the deciding factor, it is knowledge and ability. They say that during Muhammad’s (the founder of Islam, in secular terms) time, in a nearby town, a lady led the prayer and Muhammad had no objection to it. In 2005 a lady in New York’s Central Park led a Friday prayer. Feminism also has had an important role in embracing new forms of religion. Neopagan religions especially tend to emphasize the importance of Goddess spirituality, and question what they regard as traditional religion’s hostility to women and the sacred feminine. In particular Dianic Wicca is a religion whose origins lie within radical fiminism. Among traditional religions, feminism has led to self examination, with reclaimed positive Christian and Islamic views and ideals of Mary, Islamic views of Fatima Zahra, and especially to the Catholic belief in the Coredenptrix, as counterexamples. However, criticism of these efforts as unable to salvage corrupt church structures and philosophies continues. Some argue that Mary, with her status as mother and virgin, and as traditionally the main role model for women, sets women up to aspire to an impossible ideal and also thus has negative consequences on human sense of identity and sexuality. Effect on moral education Opponents of feminism claim that women’s quest for external power, as opposed to the internal power to affect other people’s ethics and values, has left a vacuum in the area of moral training, where women formerly held sway. Some feminists reply that the education, including the moral education, of children has never been, and should not be, seen as the exclusive responsibility of women. Paradoxically, it is also held by others that the moral education of children at home in the form of homeschooling is itself a women’s movement. Such arguments are entangled within the larger disagreements of the Culture Wars, as well as within feminist (and anti-feminist) ideas regarding custodianship of societal morals and compassion.
Contemporary criticisms of feminism Feminism has attracted attention due to its large effects in social change in Western society. While feminism in some forms is generally accepted, dissenting voices do exist. Criticism of feminism as a whole ideology, criticism of specific types of feminism and/or criticism of specific feminist ideas have come from feminists themselves, from non-feminists, from masculists, from social conservatives and social progressives. Some conservative minded groups see the feminist movement as destroying traditional gender roles which were seen to have resulted in social harmony. Some feminists respond that these traditional gender roles served to silence and oppress women. Some feminists, such as Canadian journalist Kate Fillion, Carol Tavris and Camille Paglia, emphasize the importance of women’s responsibility as moral, sexual, and social actors who sometimes do bad things for which they are accountable. These thinkers are critical of beliefs held by certain followers of cultural feminism which assert that women are superior to men, morally or otherwise. Postcolonial feminists criticise Western forms of feminism, notably radical feminism and its universalization of female experience. These feminists argue that since the assumption of a global experience as a woman is an assumption that is a white middle-class experience as a woman where gender oppression is the primary one, and cannot apply to women to which gender oppression may come second to racial and class oppression. Feminist and non-feminist critics suggest that the continual emphasis on women’s issues throughout the evolution of the movement has resulted in gynocentric ideology. It is claimed by these critics that some feminists are biased by the lens that filters their world views and they would like to see a gender-neutral term such as “gender egalitarianism” replace “feminism” when used in reference to the belief in basic equal rights and opportunities for both sexes. From the perspective of some strands of feminism, as well as the men’s movement and queer theory, inequalities and stereotypes based on gender are detrimental to both men and women and both sexes suffer from the expectations of traditional gender roles. Many who support masculism argue that because of both traditional gender roles and sexism infused into society by feminists, males are and have been oppressed. One complaint is that feminists promote misandry, even male inferiority. Arguments from a number of masculists note that social change and legal reform have gone too far and now begin to negatively impact men, for example, masculists view that custody hearings in divorces are biased towards the mother. While some feminists generally disagree in the view expressed by some masculists that men are equally oppressed under patriarchy, other feminists, especially third-wave feminists agree that a greater equality between the sexes is necessary to better our society. C. Feminism in the Philippines 1. Women in anti-colonial resistance The country’s history of resistance to colonisation— Spanish and American—and to the occupation of the Japanese in the 1930s is punctuated with stories of women’s heroism in war and in crisis. Gabriela Silang, for one, was one of the famous woman leader who succeeded her husband Diego Silang (who died fighting) in leading a resistance movement against the Sapnish colonial rule. At the end of the 19th century, the women of Malolos town, north of Manila, appealed to the Spanish governor general for the right to be educated in the Spanish language, a right denied them by the local cleric. Their bravery was rewarded by a famous letter from Jose Rizal, who praised the role of women as shapers of society. As the revolutionary fires heated up, anti-clerical leaders formed a Masonic branch for women, while the women of the Katipunan organized a women’s branch headed by Josefa Rizal, Gregoria de Jesus and Marina Dizon. Generalas Teresa Magbanua and Agueda Kahabagan were noted for their battlefield victories in the Revolution. During the Filipino-American War of 1899, Hilaria Aguinaldo presided over the Women’s Red Cross.
Under the Americans, upper and middle class women sought to imitate their sisters in the United States by launching a Philippine version of the suffragette movement in the 1900’s. On July 7, 1905, Nuevo Heraldo published details of a meeting of women called by Concepcion Felix, known today as the “first Filipino feminist,” to organize themselves into an Asociacion Femenista Filipina [Filipina Feminist Association]. The Association were seeking women’s representation in what was still a male dominated sphere - the Board of Education. In the southern province of Iloilo, another articulate woman leader, Pura Villanueva, convened a meeting a year later that gave birth to the Asociacion Feminista Ilonga [Ilonga Feminist Association]. Asociacion Feminista Filipina focused its work on social issues and the improvement of women’s welfare, thus becoming the first organization that focused on women’s issues from a gender perspective. Their efforts led to the founding of La Gota de Leche, the first institution in the Philippines to focus on the care of mothers and children. Gota was set up under the auspices of one of the earliest non-profit agencies of this country, La Proteccion de la Infancia Inc. [Protection of Infancy] Since women did not have legal personalities at that time, the efforts of early feminists benefited from the support of that era’s most prominent male doctors, with whom La Proteccion was incorporated. So far, the women of the Asociacion had kept within the boundaries of what Filipino society of that day deemed was “proper” for women, especially women of a particular social class. They would break out of these protective -- and restrictive -- borders with their involvement in the struggle for legal equality with men. If they had known the struggle would entail decades of commitment on their part, would the women have ventured into the fray as eagerly as they did? While their sisters in Manila were primarily engaged in “good works,” the Asociacion Feminista Ilonga commenced what would become a 30-year long struggle for Filipino women to win the right to vote, and to run for political office. It inspired women’s associations and clubs to form coalitions across sectors and provinces and focus their efforts on winning the vote. These included the establishment of formations like the National Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1921 with network of 300 clubs all over the country, the National League of Filipino Women in 1922, the Women Citizens League and the Philippine Association of University Women in 1928, whose priority objectives included lobbying for the passage of a law that would extend the right to vote to women as given to men, equally. In December of 1933, a law was finally passed by the Philippine Senate, and was signed into law by Governor General Frank Murphy, to take effect on Jan. 1, 1935. But the law was superseded with the passage in 1934 of a new Commonwealth Constitution. Women were given an additional requirement: to produce 300,000 “yes” votes in a plebiscite, before they were extended the right to vote. The firedup suffragists, led by what one woman scholar was moved to dub the “panuelo activists,” after their ubiquitous kerchiefs worn on the neckline of the “baro’t saya” [traditional blouse and skirt], defied social conventions and traveled across the length and breadth of the archipelago, convincing women it was in their interest to win the right to vote. On April 30, 1937, Plebiscite Day, 447,725 “yes” votes were counted, with the provinces of Leyte, Iloilo and Cebu bringing in the biggest number of votes. On Sept. 15, 1937, women were at last recognized as equal citizens of this country enjoying every civil right available to men, including the right to vote and the right to run for office. Filipinas thus became the first women in Asia to be granted suffrage. During World War II, while the men waged a covert guerilla war against the Japanese occupation, women took on the roles of couriers, spies, and even fighters. The class nature of women’s involvement in political change took a different turn during the interregnum brought about by the Japanese occupation. Here, women from the lower classes joined the armed resistance even as their privileged sisters sought refuge in the United States and elsewhere, away from the ruin and severity caused by war. This situation turned out to be brief, however, as the postwar period saw the retreat of these lower class women to their domestic chores, and the re-emergence of upper and middle class women in the political scene. These women devoted these energies to social work, fund-raising and moral regeneration campaigns. Many of the groups established during this period were meant to be female counterparts of men’s organizations, thereby performing mere auxiliary functions (Tancangco, 1991:326).
2. National Democratic Feminism The upsurge of radical activism in the late 1960’s spawned a vibrant student movement that not only spearheaded the revival of the national struggle against American intervention, but likewise sought to present a vision of an alternative society that would be the end-goal of the struggle for democratic change. It is from the ranks of these student intellectuals and radicals that MAKIBAKA (to struggle), or the Free Association of New Women, was born. Launched in 1970, MAKIBAKA was the first women’s association that attempted to situate women’s liberation within the context of national democratic struggle. Martial law, ironically, turned out to be favorable for women’s organising in the 70’s, as the immense degradation of the Filipina spurred campaigns against the trafficking of Filipino women overseas, the exploitation of women workers in export processing zones, cases of torture and rape of women political detainees, and the like. But within the national democratic movement, there arise ideas counter to MAKIBAKA’s concept of women’s liberation. The counter ideas say: “…the attempt to combine feminist and class politics stunted MAKIBAKA’s chances of helping establish an autonomous women’s movement. On the one hand, organizational priorities and rebukes from male comrades who saw the woman question as trivial given the demands of the times, and ideological blinders that resulted from an uncritical adherence to orthodox Marxism. On the other hand, it reduced MAKIBAKA to a self-professed feminist organization that failed to look beyond politics as a source of gender oppression. So, “… even as the women’s groups began to take an increasingly feminist character, the nature of women’s participation in the anti-dictatorship struggle was such that, the different ideological forces comprising the Philippine Left -- national democrats, social democrats, socialists -- viewed the integration of women in the democratic struggle only in relation to the need for augmenting their respective mobilizable forces, without assigning “central significance” to the role of gender liberation in the struggle for national and social transformation. In other words, the women’s movement was seen as a mere appendage of the larger national struggle.” By the start of the 1980’s, as a challenged to the dominant thinking of mainstream political formations regarding the women’s movement, a new organization named PILIPINA (Movement of Filipino Women) was set up. According to the organizers, PILIPINA was an organization that had a clear socialist feminist orientation. It was composed of individuals belonging to the social democratic and social camps, some of them even holding important positions within their respective ideological blocs. But inspite of this, they claim that these women ensured that PILIPINA would remain politically and organizationally autonomous from the political forces that each belonged to. Towards the twilight of the Marcos dictatorship and specifically after the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino in 1983, women’s groups of various political persuasions and class composition reemerged and shared the political center stage with other anti-Marcos organizations. Many of these women’s groups, coming as they were from a wide array of groups -- from the politically and ideologically inclined, to civic associations -- decided to band together in an umbrella organization that later became popularly known as GABRIELA (General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action). The coalition, set up in 1984, was the first attempt at unifying the women around a feminist agenda, even as political differences are recognized and yet disallowed to derail the effort towards the building of an autonomous women’s movement. Unfortunately, less than two years later, GABRIELA split over the issue of participation in the 1986 snap presidential elections. After hurling charges and counter-charges of manipulation against each other, at least half of the women’s organizations decided to leave until only those closely identified with the national democrats were left in GABRIELA. Many of the original member-organizations that left GABRIELA later formed the more politically diverse Women’s Action Network for Development, or WAND. 3. NGO Feminism The overthrow of Marcos resulted in many political activists deciding to set up non-governmental organizations or social development agencies as an extension of their commitment to democratic change,
this time in the arena of development work. At the same time, the immense popularity of Corazon Aquino attracted huge amounts of foreign and local funding for development projects (Constantino-David, 1990: 4). Women’s groups benefitted largely from this. On the one hand, many funding sources emphasized the inclusion of a Women-in-Development (WID) component in any development project. On the other hand, in 1987, on the initiative of the newly-installed government, over a hundred individuals came together from the academia, people’s organizations and NGOs to collectively formulate the Philippine Development Plan for Women (PDPW) -- a companion volume of the 1987-1992 Medium Term Development Plan. The democratic space brought out by the downfall of Marcos dictatorship laid down the conditions for the flourishing of non-government organizations (NGOs). NGO’s contributed much to the impetus that is currently propelling gender advocacy in the Philippines. Women-oriented development projects have pushed to the surface other women’s concerns that may not be directly political in nature but, nevertheless, are equally critical to the gender question: child care, livelihood development, campaign against domestic violence, etc. Even the advocacy of feminist issues in almost all other sectoral organizations traditionally dominated by men like trade unions, peasant organizations and cooperative movements has been stimulated - to a certain extent - by the need to have a WID component. Since many of such organizations have partner NGO’s that keep relations with funding agencies which place importance on women-oriented projects, women-specific projects inevitably assumed as much significance as traditional ones. Hence one will find a federation of women workers, for instance, which in the past simply subsumed gender issues under the larger cause of trade unionism but which is now incorporating a women’s component in training and capability-building programs. In addition, the tremendous popularity of gender advocacy in the developing world has encouraged the establishment of close working relations between women’s groups that belong to different ideological forces and are otherwise divided over their respective political leanings. One such example, as has been noted above, is the coming together of WAND and the Group of Ten - where GABRIELA belongs as one of the ten member-organizations - in order to collectively manage development funds through a womenspecific funding mechanism called DIWATA. Here, while political and ideological tensions inevitably remain, the two major networks of women’s groups are afforded a venue for jointly pushing women’s issues within their respective circles via the promotion of gender advocacy and innovative women-oriented projects.
_______________________________________________ References 1. Zarate’s Political Collections (ZPC), Roberto Ortiz de Zárate, 1996-2006 2. The Holy Bible 3. “Women and Globalization—Some Key Issues”; (Presentation at the Conference: Strategies of the Thai Women’s Movement in the 21st. Century, Bangkok, March 28-29, 2000; Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, Thailand 4. Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women – The Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace; Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985
5. Beijing Platform of Action; Fourth UN World Conference on Women, 04-15; September 1995 6. Impact of new world trade regime on peasant women in the Philippines by Teresita News (Vol.10 no.2, July 1997) 7. Dr. Rosalinda Pineda-Ofreneo on the situation of Filipino women. 8. Gender Issues in Agrarian Reform; Rachel V. Polestico 1998 Oliveros; Forum
9. Wikipedia Encyclopedia 10. Encyclopædia Britannica 11. Feminist/Pro-Feminist links, The National Men’s Resource Center 12. French, Marilyn (1985). Beyond Power. 13. “The Perception of Sexual Attractiveness: Sex Differences in Variability” by Townsend J.M.; Wasserman T., Archives of Sexual Behavior, Volume 26, Number 3, June 1997, pp. 243-268(26) McGraw, Kevin J. (2002) 14. “Environmental Predictors of Geographic Variation in Human Mating Preferences,” Ethology 108 (4), 303-317. In Defense of Working Fathers Sacks, Glenn. 15. Sacks, Glenn (2006-05-17. Is Pay a Function of Gender Bias?. 16. ReparateMe.com, “Stop Polarizing the Sexes” 17. Sarah Fenstermaker Berk and Anthony Shih, “Contributions to Household Labor: Comparing Wives’ and Husbands’ Reports,”, in Berk, ed., Women and Household Labor 18. Rizvi, Muddassir (2002-10-15). Women Win Record Seats, But Not Activists’ Hearts. Inter Press Service. Retrieved on 2006-05-16. 19. Section 28, Gender, Work Burden, and Time Allocation.United Nations Human Development Report 2004: Section 28. United Nations: (2004). 20. Women in National Parliaments, November 2004 21. Sweeney, Brian (ed.) 2000, ‘OPTIMISTS: Kate Sheppard - Suffragist’. Accessed May 23rd, 2006, from 22. An Overview of the Gender Situation in the Philippines; Carlos Antonio Q. Anonuevo; Friedrich-EbertStiftung Philippine Office; September 2000 23. Participation of Women in Philippine Politics and Society: A Situationer; A Paper written by Mylene Hega, Secretary General of MAKALAYA (Women Workers Network) for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippine Office, March 2003 24. Legarda, Trinidad F. “Philippine Women and the Vote” Philippine Magazine, Vol 28, No. 4, (1931), 163-165, 196-200. 25. Women of the Philippines By Clemencia Lopez; The Woman’s Journal (June 7, 1902). Address at the annual meeting of the New England Woman Suffrage Association, May 29, 1902. 26. A century of the Feminist Movement in the Philippines by Dr Mina Roces, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales, and publications officer for the ASAA
Women Presidents 1945-2005 1. Sühbaataryn Yanjmaa (1893-1962) The widow of national hero Sühbaatar was First Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the People’s Great Khural of Mongolia and acted as Chairman of the Presidium (i.e., head of the State) during a vacancy in that position from 23 Sep 1953 to 7 Jul 1954. If we consider such a post as having a real ruling status, she would have been (excepting queens) the absolute first woman political ruler in contemporary history. (Info submitted by Juan Jorge Schäffer) 2. Song Qingling (Sung Ch’ing-ling) (1893-1981) The widow (got married in 1914) of doctor Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic, and the sister-in-law of marshall Chiang Kai-shek, his successor as president of the Republic of China (then Taiwan), constitutes a very special case. From 31 Oct 1968 to 24 Feb 1972 no head of state was mentioned in the People’s Republic of China, as such a post remained vacant in the wake of Liu Shaoqi’s fall into disgrace, during the Cultural Revolution, and up to 1972 no acting president was appointed in the person of Dong Biwu. He and Song Qingling were vicepresidents by then (she was elected to the post in 1954, after being deputy premier since 1949), so, de facto (and in theory), both leaders shared the presidential duties in 1968-1972. Furthermore, when in 1976 Zhu De, the head of state by then as chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (the presidency of the Republic was officially abolished the previous year), passed away, a vacancy period was inaugurated and not filled until 1978, with the appointment of Ye Jianying. In this months were the 21 vice-chairmen, among them four women: Song Qingling, Cai Chang, Li Suwen, and (from 2 Dec 1976) Deng Yingchao, the widow of just deceased premier Zhou Enlai. Song became a member of the Communist Party only on her deathbed, and in 1980, shortly before her death, was elected “Honorary President” of the People’s Republic of China. (Info submitted by Juan Jorge Schäffer) 3. María Estela (‘Isabel’) Martínez de Perón (1931-) Served as president of Argentina from 1 Jul 1974 to 24 Mar 1976. Was married since 1961 with Juan Domingo Perón, president in the terms 1946-1955 and 1973-1974, and replaced him automatically in his death as she held the vicepresidency of the Republic and the presidency of the Senate since the 1973 electoral victory of the ‘Perón-Perón’ formula. In fact. Perón’s incapa-citation forced her to act as president since Jun 29. She was the first woman who became president, both in America and in the world. And also was the first one ousted in a military coup. 4. Lydia Gueiler Tejada (1926-) Caretaker president of Bolivia from 17 Nov 1979 to 18 Jul 1980. Deposed in a military coup. 5. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (1930-) President of Iceland from 1 Aug 1980 to 1 Aug 1996, has got several “firsts”: 1st woman president in Europe, 1st one elected directly by the people in the world and when quitting in 1996 was the female political ruler longest-time in office in the world, as well as the doyen among all European nonmonarch rulers. 6. Maria Lea Pedini-Angelini 1953?-) Co-Captain-regent (head of State and Government) of San Marino in 1981 (1 Apr to 1 Oct). 7. Agatha Barbara (1923-2002)
President of Malta from 15 Feb 1982 to 15 Feb 1987. Second woman president in Europe behind Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. 8. Gloriana Ranocchini (1957-) Co-Captain-regent (head of State and Government) of San Marino from 1 Apr to 1 Oct 1984 and from 1 Oct 1989 to 1 Apr 1990. 9. Carmen Pereira (1937-) Acting president of Guinea Bissau from 14 May 1984 to 16 May 1984 in the capacity of chairman of the National People’s Assembly. 10. Corazon (Cory) Aquino (1933-) President of the Philippines from 25 Feb 1986 to 30 Jun 1992. Widow of Benigno Aquino, assassinated in 1983. Asia’s first woman president. 11 Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (1943-) Dame Ertha Pascal-Trouillot served as interim president of Haiti from 13 Mar 1990 to 7 Feb 1991. America’s third female president and second black female ruler in the continent after Dominica’s premier Eugenia Charles. 12. Sabine Bergmann-Pohl (1946-) Chairman of the Volkskammer of the late German Democratic Republic in 1990 was the last head of State (Staatspräsident), nominal and interim, before the unification. Her testimonial tenure lasted six months: from 5 Apr to 2 Oct 1990. In fact, the only female head of State in former communist East Europe. 13. Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1929-) President of Nicaragua from 25 Apr 1990 to 10 Jan 1997. Widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, assassinated in 1978. 14. Mary Robinson (1944-) President of Ireland from 3 Dec 1990 to 12 Sep 1997, when unexpectedly resigned, three months before the expiration of her mandate. After that, she served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to 12 Sep 2002. 15. Edda Ceccoli Co-Captain-regent (head of State and Government) of San Marino from 1 Oct 1991 to 1 Apr 1992. 16. Patricia Busignani Co-Captain-regent (head of State and Government) of San Marino in 1993 (1 Apr to 1 Oct). 17. Sylvie Kinigi (1952?-) Acting President (de facto) of Burundi from 27 Oct 1993 to 5 Feb 1994. See profile at the Prime Ministers’ page. 18. Chandrika Kumaratunga (1945-) President of Sri Lanka from 14 Nov 1994 to 19 Nov 2005, although also served as prime minister before, from 19 Aug until her presidential oath taking. Daughter of the late Sirimavo
Bandaranaike, three times prime minister of Sri Lanka, the last one at the moment of her demise in 2000, so Sri Lanka was the first republic in the world whose two top executive offices were simultaneously held by women; in addition, both posts have been filled through democratic elections... and the daughter appointed the mother to hold the premiership in 1994. Chandrika’s father and Sirimavo’s husband, Solomon, was assassinated while being prime minister in 1959. The same fate suffered Chandrika’s husband, Vijaya Kumaratunga, also assassinated in 1988. 19. Ruth Perry (1939?-) Chairman of the Council of State (a six-member collective presidency) of the National Transitional Government of Liberia from 3 Sep 1996 to 2 Aug 1997. Perry has been, excepting queens (and Burundian premier Sylvie Kinigi, who acted as president briefly de facto in early 90s), Africa’s first female head of State 20. Rosalía Arteaga Serrano (1956-) Ephemeral caretaker president of Ecuador in 9-11 Feb 1997. 21. Mary McAleese (1951-) President of Ireland since 11 Nov 1997. First woman president having succeeded another one, Mary Robinson, in history. 22. Janet Jagan (1920-) President of Guyana from 19 Dec 1997 to 11 Aug 1999, but also prime minister from 17 Mar to 22 Dec 1997. Succeeded her husband Cheddi Jagan in the Presidency some months after his passing. The sixth woman occupying the presidential office in America and the second one with an additional premiership experience in the world (the first one was Sri Lanka’s Chandrika Kumaratunga). 23. Ruth Dreifuss (1940-) The first female Swiss head of State as president of the Confederation following a very, very long list of one-year male rulers. Dreifuss was elected by the Federal Assembly to serve the term 1 Jan 1999-1 Jan 2000. 24. Rosa Zafferani (1960-) Co-Captain-regent (head of State and Government) of San Marino from 1 Apr to 1 Oct 1999. 25. Vaira Vike-Freiberga (1937-) The first woman to be president of a country in East/Central Europe or came out with the former Soviet Union, was elected by the Parliament of Latvia on 17 Jun 1999 for a four-year term starting on Jul 8. 26. Mireya Elisa Moscoso de Arias (1946-) The first woman president of Panama served from 1 Sep 1999 to 1 Sep 2004. She is the widow (1988) of former president Arnulfo Arias Madrid. 27. Tarja Kaarina Halonen (1943-) Finland’s first woman president, since 1 Mar 2000. Her tenure expires in 2006. 28. Maria Domenica Michelotti (1952-) Co-captain regent of San Marino for the period 1 Apr 2000-1 Oct 2000. The sixth woman to become co-captain regent since 1981.
29. Maria Gloria Macapagal Arroyo 1947-) President of the Philippines since 20 Jan 2001. Daughter of late president Diosdado Macapagal and second woman president of this Asian State. 30. Megawati Sukarnoptri (1947-) The daughter of the late president Sukarno is president of Indonesia from 23 Jul 2001 to 20 Oct 2004. 31. Valeria Ciavatta (1959-) Co-captain regent of San Marino for the period 1 Oct 2003-1 Apr 2004. The seventh woman to become co-captain regent since 1981. 32. Nino Burdzhanadze (1964-) Acting president of Georgia from 23 Nov 2003 to 25 Jan 2004. 33. Fausta Simona Morganti (1944-) Co-captain regent of San Marino for the period 1 Apr 2005-1 Oct 2005. 34. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (1939-) President of Liberia since 16 Jan 2006. She is Africa’s first elected woman president. 35. Michelle Bachelet Jeria (1951-) President of Chile from 11 Mar 2006.
Women Prime Ministers 1945-2005 1. Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1916-2000) Prime minister of Sri Lanka three times: from 21 Jul 1960 to 27 Mar 1965, from 29 May 1970 to 23 Jul 1977 and from 14 Nov 1994 to 10 Aug 2000. First woman prime minister in world history and probably the oldest female political leader in active by the time of her demise. Widow of Solomon Bandaranaike, prime minister in 1956 and assassinated in office in 1959. She received her third government mandate from her own daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, who was to be sworn in as president by then. This was the first time in history that a woman succeeded another woman by elections. 2. Indira Gandhi (1917-1984) Prime minister of India twice, from 19 Jan 1966 to 24 Mar 1977 and from 14 Jan 1980 to her assassination on 31 Oct 1984. Second generation of the Nehru-Gandhi saga, her father Jawaharlal Nehru ruled India from the independence in 1947 to his death in 1964. Her younger son and political heir, Sanjay, had passed away in plane crash in 1980, so elder Rajiv assumed the leadership of the Congress Party and, automathically, the premiership. In 1991 Rajiv, two years after leaving the Government, suffered the same fate than his mother and was assassinated as well. Currently the widow of Rajiv and daughter-in-law of Indira, Sonia Gandhi, leads the party and the opposition to the nationalist Government. 3. Golda Meir (1898-1978) Prime minister of Israel from 17 Mar 1969 to 3 Jun 1974 and third women in the world to reach that post behind Sri Lanka’s Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1960) and India’s Indira Gandhi (1966).
4. Elisabeth Domitien (1926-2005) Prime minister of the Central African Republic from 3 Jan 1975 to 7 Apr 1976, as first holder of the just created post of premier upon decision of dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa. She came up to local politics in early 70s, by 1972 she was given the vice presidency of the only legal party, the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa (MESAN), and from 1975 ruled as vice president of the Republic. In Apr 1976, following some statements of Bokassa favoring the monarchy for the CAR, Domitien publicly spoke out against such a project, so Bokassa fired her on the spot. After Bokassa’s ousting in 1979, Domitien was briefly imprisoned and in 1980 was put on trial. Impeded to remain active in politics, she retained a high profile at home and abroad as an influential businesswoman. Next to nobody knows, but she was Africa’s first woman prime minister and the first black woman ruler of an independent State. Nevertheless, it must be said that Empress Zauditu ruled on Ethiopia from 1917 to 1930 and ‘Mantsebo Amelia ‘Matsaba Sempe was Queen-Regent of Lesotho from 1941 to 1960, albeit under colonial rule. Another Queen-Regent of Lesotho, ‘MaMohato Tabitha ‘Masentle Lerotholi, served for first time briefly in 1970, four years after the independence. 5. Margaret Thatcher (1925-) Prime minister of the United Kingdom from 4 May 1979 to 28 Nov 1990. First woman elected ruler in Europe. 6. Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo (1930-2004) Prime minister of Portugal from 1 Aug 1979 to 3 Jan 1980. 7. Mary Eugenia Charles (1919-2005) Prime minister of Dominica from 21 Jul 1980 to 14 Jun 1995. Second black woman ruler in the world behind Central Africa’s Elisabeth Domitien, first Caribbean (and American) female premier and third American female ruler. 8. Gro Harlem Brundtland (1939-) Prime minister of Norway three times: from 4 Feb to 14 Oct 1981, from 9 May 1986 to 16 Oct 1989 and from 3 Nov 1990 to 25 Oct 1996. She currently serves as chief of the World Health Organization (WHO). 9. Milka Planinc (1924-) Federal prime minister of former Socialist Yugoslavia from 16 May 1982 to 15 May 1986. The only (and probably the last) woman premier of a communist country in history. 10. Benazir Bhutto (1953-) Prime Minister of Pakistan from 2 Dec 1988 to 6 Aug 1990, and again from 19 Oct 1993 to 5 Nov 1996. Daughter of former ruler Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (president in 1971-1973 and prime minister in 1972-1977), who was overthrown in 1977 and executed by the military regime of general Zia ul-Haq in 1979, belongs to the selected group of Asian women leaders, along with Sri Lanka’s Chandrika Kumaratunga, Bangladesh’ Khaleda Zia and Hasina Wajed, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesia’s Megawati Sukarnoputri or Japan’s Takako Doi. Additionally, she is credited with being the first woman prime minister of a muslim country. 11. Kazimiera Danutë Prunskienë 1943-) Prime minister of Lithuania from 17 Mar 1990 to 10 Jan 1991. 12. Khaleda Zia (1945-) Prime minister of Bangladesh from 20 Mar 1991 to 30 Mar 1996 and again from 10 Oct 2001 to currently. Widow of the late dictator Ziaur Rahman, assassinated in 1981. Close rival of Hasina Wajed, daughter of the father of de independence Mujibur Rahman.
13. Edith Cresson (1934-) Prime minister of France from 15 May 1991 to 2 Apr 1992. 14. Hanna Suchocka (1946-) Prime minister of Poland from 8 Jul 1992 to 26 Oct 1993. 15. Kim Campbell (1947-) Prime minister of Canada from 25 Jun to 5 Nov 1993. First woman ruler in North America. 16. Tansu Çiller (1946-) Prime minister of Turkey from 25 Jun 1993 to 7 Mar 1996. She belongs to the reduced but notable group of women rulers in Muslim countries, along with Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, Bangladesh’ Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia, and Indonesia’s Megawati Sukarnoputri. 17. Sylvie Kinigi (1952?-) Prime minister of Burundi from 10 Jul 1993 to 11 Feb 1994. Kinigi’s brief tenure lasted in a very critical period in Burundi’s contemporary history. When the just democratically elected president Melchior Ndadaye, an ethnic Hutu, and other senior cabinet members were killed on 21 Oct 1993 by Tutsi military plotters, Kinigi, a moderate member of the Tutsi-based National Party for Unity and Progress (UPRONA), could preserve her life by sheltering in the French embassy at Bujumbura. During six chaotic days her performance was decisive to terminate the crisis and restore the order: her Government assumed collectively the presidential functions, she successfully called for the international powers to support her and additionally gained the loyalty of most of the Army officers, which distanced itself from the rebel Junta. In fact, Kinigi continued acting as president until the takeover of president Cyprien Ntaryamira on 5 Feb 1994. 18. Agathe Uwilingiyimana (1953-1994) Prime minister of Rwanda from 18 Jul 1993 to her death on 7 Apr 1994. After heading during almost a year a precarious but promising coalition cabinet -the presidential and Hutu-based National Revolutionary Movement (MRN), the Tutsi guerrilla rebels’ Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) and her moderate and multiethnic Rwandan Democratic Movement (MDR)-, the Hutu radicals began a massive killing of Tutsi people and moderate Hutus, taking as excuse the obscure assassination of president Juvenal Habyarimana, on 6 Apr Mrs. Uwilingiyimana was one of the first personalities eliminated by the armed militias. No other world woman ruler had lost her life during a rebellion at the moment, but India’s Indira Gandhi also died in violent circumstances ten years before. 19. Chandrika Kumaratunga (1945-) Prime minister of Sri Lanka from 19 Aug to Nov 1994. 20. Reneta Indzhova (1953-) Interim prime minister of Bulgaria from 16 Oct 1994 to 25 Jan 1995. 21. Claudette Werleigh (1944-) Prime minister of Haiti from 7 Nov 1995 to 27 Feb 1996. 22. Sheikh Hasina Wajed (1947-) Prime minister of Bangladesh from 23 Jun 1996 to 15 Jul 2001. Daughter of a former statesman (like India’s Indira Gandhi, Sri Lanka’s Chandrika Kumaratunga, Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto and Indonesia’s Megawati Sukarnoputri), Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the independence in 1971 and first prime minister of Bangladesh, assassinated in 1975. Close rival of Khaleda Zia, for her part widow of the late president Ziaur Rahman, within the parliamentary democracy.
23. Janet Jagan (1920-) Prime minister of Guyana from 17 Mar 1997 to December 19, 1997. See more at the Presidents’ page. 24. Jenny Shipley (1952-) Prime minister of New Zealand from 8 Dec 1997 to 10 Dec 1999. Shipley was not only the first woman ruler in New Zealand (aside from former governor-general Catherine Tizard, with token duties), but in an independent state of South Pacific/Oceania as well. 25. Irena Degutienë (1949-) Acting prime minister of Lithuania twice, from 4 to 18 May 1999 and from 27 Oct to 3 Nov 1999. Second Lithuanian premier behind Kazimiera Prunskiene in early 90s. 26. Nyam-Osoriyn Tuyaa (1958-) Acting prime minister of Mongolia from 22 to 30 Jul 1999, 27. Helen Elizabeth Clark (1950-) On 10 Dec 1999 Helen Clark became the second consecutive woman prime minister of New Zealand, succeeding Jenny Shipley. 28. Mame Madior Boye (1940-) Prime minister of Senega from 3 Mar 2001 to 4 Nov 2002. 29. Chang Sang (1939-) Acting and ephemeral prime minister of South Korea in 2002: from 11 Jul, by appointment of president Kim Dae Jung, to 31 Jul, when the Parliament rejected her. 30. Maria das Neves Ceita Baptista de Sousa Prime minister of Sao Tome and Principe from 7 Oct 2002 to 16 Jul 2003, when was deposed, together with president Fradique de Menezes, in a military coup. 31. Anneli Tuulikki Jäätteenmäki (1955-) Prime minister of Finland from 17 Apr to 18 Jun 2003, when resigned. The country’s first -and ephemeral- woman premier. 32. Beatriz Merino Lucero (1948-) Prime minister of Peru from 28 Jun to 15 Dec 2003. 33. Luísa Dias Diogo (1958-) Prime minister of Mozambique from 17 Feb 2004. 34. Radmila Sekerinska (1972-) Acting prime minister of Macedonia twice in 2004, from 12 May to 12 Jun and from 18 Nov to 17 Dec. 35. Yuliya Tymoshenko (1960-) Prime minister of Ukraine from 24 Jan to 8 Sep 2005.
36. Maria do Carmo Silveira Prime minister of Sao Tome and Principe from 8 Jun 2005 to 21 Apr 2006. 37. Angela Merkel (1954-) Federal Chancellor of Germany from 22 Nov 2005. 38. Portia Simpson-Miller (1945-) Prime Minister of Jamaica from 30 Mar 2006. 39. Han Myung Sook Prime minister of South Korea from 19 Apr 2006.
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