Though women’s day celebrations have been going on since the early 1900s, it only became a popular event in 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly enjoined its member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace. Over the years, March also came to be tagged—albeit unofficially—as Women’s Month.
Based on the results of the Newsweek/The Daily Beast survey released in 2011, the Philippines is a good place for women. It was the only Asian country that made it to the list's top 20. (See the ranking below.) For the most part, Filipinas are free to make their own decisions and are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all is well in the country. There’s a lot of room for improvement.
1. Iceland (Overall score out of 100: 100.0)
2. Sweden (99.2)
3. Canada (96.6)
4. Denmark (95.3)
5. Finland (92.8)
6. Switzerland (91.9)
7. Norway (91.3)
8. United States of America (89.8)
9. Australia (88.2)
10. Netherlands (87.7)
11. New Zealand (87.2)
12. France (87.2)
13. Luxembourg (87.1)
14. Portugal (86.8)
15. Republic of Macedonia (86.4)
16. Republic of Moldova (86.3)
17. Philippines (86.3)
18. Belgium (85.2)
19. United Kingdom (85.0)
20. Romania (85.0)
The Newsweek/The Daily Beast survey noted that—on scales of 1 to 100—the Philippines got grades of 88.4 in Justice, 92.2 in Education, 89.1 in Economics, and 85.6 in Politics. Unfortunately, we scored most poorly in Health, receiving a grade of 57. In any case, despite the impressive numbers in other aspects, we know that there are still a lot of women in the country who have suffered injustice, are not educated, are economically challenged, and are politically disadvantaged.
In this light, Pinays who are in better positions should play a more active role in empowering those who don’t easily get the opportunity to improve themselves or get out of situations that render them powerless. There’s no doubt that sisterhood is one of the keys to achieving greater things. We see this at work with women’s groups and women leaders who go the distance to elevate the status of women in society so that they can flourish in a world where gender is not a hindrance to one’s dreams.
It’s easy to say that we celebrate Women’s Day, but it’s difficult to actually spread the word about self-empowerment when there are still many issues that continue to hound women to this day. That being said, each Pinay (as well as all other women in the world) should understand that she is an individual who has the right to the life she chooses of her own free will. In a perfect world, no woman should be enslaved by the dictates of another person. This is something we Pinays may take for granted, but we have sisters in other parts of the country and the world who are still struggling to have their voices heard.
We should celebrate Women’s Day by being thankful for what we have and doing what we can to help those who have not been given the same opportunities that we enjoy.