Thursday, February 7, 2013

Women’s vote needed for pro-women legislation

MANILA, Feb. 5 -– The establishment of a "women's vote" in the Philippines could push Congress to make more laws favorable to women in the country.
“There is no 'women's vote' in the country despite a huge number of women voters,” said Aida Santos Maranan, co-founder of the women's organization WeDPro.

Maranan was guest during the second episode of the Paghahanda Para Sa Hatol ng Bayan aired over People's Television Network today.

She said there is no women’s vote in the country because women do not vote as a sector. “Legislation would be women-friendly if they did,” Maranan said. This will result in laws that uphold their welfare.

Maranan lamented that candidates -- especially those running for national posts -- have no clear platforms for the advancement of women.

This explains the low number of gender-specific bills filed in the Senate and House of Representatives, she said.

She said gender roles also impact on the political role of women. Based on a study, she said, there are more women running for barangay, rather than city or national, positions. “It is easier for them to get votes from neighbors,” she said. “It would be difficult for them to campaign away from their homes as they need to take care of children.”

A presence of women's vote in the political arena would be easy to recognize, she said. “Political parties will by then know that women voters can make or break them.”

Filipino women have gone a long way since 1937 when the Philippines, then a Commonwealth, granted women the right to vote in a special plebiscite on April 30 that year.

Ninety percent of voters favored the bill in the National Assembly granting women the right to vote and be voted on -- in compliance with the 1935 Constitution.

Since then, the rise of women in Philippine politics may have been, according to political analysts, slow, but the movement has been steady -- many winning their spurs largely in the barangay and town levels.
But four years after the 1937 plebiscite, Elisa Rosales Ochoa of Butuan, a licensed nurse, made history for women when she became the first woman to be elected member of the House of Representatives, representing Agusan.

In the national elections on Nov 11, 1947, social worker and educator Geronima Tomelden Pecson of Lingayen, Pangasinan notched another honor for Filipino women when she landed third among eight senators chosen for the Senate.

A full 76 years later, women not only count among the voters but many are now up to be voted on in the different levels of the political ladder -- from the Senate down to the barangay kagawad level. (PNA-Media Ng Bayan)

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