Sunday, April 14, 2024

In All Shapes and Sizes

by Nikole Elli | March 2, 2022

On the noisy streets, among the passersby, a woman huffs in disgust from a stranger’s unsolicited comment about her clothes. She most especially loathes the stares and the occasional catcalls. While she exists in a society that celebrates women’s empowerment, these instances are proof that the society still falls short of its promise for safer spaces. Our country belongs to the three most dangerous places for women as reported by the research firm ValueChampion.

History of Women’s Month Celebration in the Philippines

The celebration of Women’s Month in the Philippines dates back to 1988 when the Proclamation No. 224, s. 1988 was signed by then-president Corazon Aquino, declaring every first week of March as Women’s Week and the 8th of March every year thereafter as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day.  In the same year, the president also issued Proclamation No. 227, which set the month of March as “Women’s Role in History Month”. 

Twenty-four years later, women still inarguably find it difficult to fit in a patriarchal society. Among these women who fight for equal rights are those who come from indigenous groups. 

Fighting for safe spaces

Last year in July, the “Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights” initiated a National Indigenous Women Gathering to unite indigenous peoples of the country. During the gathering, the female leaders discussed the threats that their communities are facing. Continued disappearances and killings linked to protecting the “ancestral lands” alarm these communities. Despite laws protecting these women and communities, these problems persist. However, with the growing pressures, these women continue to take grassroots action to improve their communities’ conditions. 

But these aren’t the only women who fight for their spaces in the community. The problem magnifies more in the trans community.

They are women too

As a predominantly Christian community, our country lags behind others in supporting LGBTQIA+ communities. For transgender women, fitting in society is a chore. Hate crimes because of sexual orientation and gender identity are still rampant. One of these was the violent murder of Jennifer Laude by an American Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton back in 2014. While Pemberton was found guilty of homicide, the announcement of granting pardon to the American serviceman seemingly proved that the country’s tolerance towards these situations remains traditional.

The journey towards women’s empowerment is long for a country like ours. When women who can speak about their needs are even having a hard time finding acceptance, the narratives of those who are voiceless remain untold and unheard. 


Mijares, M. (2021, August 25). Indigenous Women In the Philippines Fight For Their Rights. The Organization for World Peace.

Proclamation No. 224, s. 1988: Declaring the First Week of March of Every Year as Women’s Week and March 8, 1988 and Every Year Thereafter as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day | Philippine Commission on Women. (2022).

Redfern, C. (2020, September 17). He Killed a Transgender Woman in the Philippines. Why Was He Freed? The New York Times.

Vera, B. O. de. (2019, March 9). PH among “most dangerous” places for women.


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