Sexism is everybody’s concern

Nov. 09, 2009

We, members of Gabriela Network of Professionals, are very much enraged that Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party, is being maliciously portrayed as one who tolerates sexism by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

We view as sexist the behavior of Mayor Duterte, if the information on kissing sorties was accurate as to identify elements that constitute sexism.

We view as malicious, the attempts of people to make Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan do a Manny Pacquiao against Mayor Duterte, turning the issue of sexism as a boxing arena while all the macho men and women cheering and jeering. We refuse to be caught in a political crossfire between political rivals. This is not how we solve sexism as a development and human rights issue.
With due respect to the Davao City’s vibrant women’s movement, Davao City earned the credits for good goveranance for its trailblazing work along women and child rights programming. In all these pro-women and children initiatives, we take strong cognizance of Mayor Duterte’s support, specifically, for the Davao City Children’s Welfare Code, Davao City Women’s Development Code, Integrated Gender and Development Division, Reproductive Health bill and the proposed Davao Reproductive Health ordinance. Still, we do not tolerate sexist behavior as alleged by his detractors. Mayor Duterte is not above reproach. Sexism is sexism. We appeal to the mayor to do something about his sexist statements and behavior.

It can be recalled that in many occasions, the Gabriela Davao member organizations and leaders have sent strong messages of concern, criticism and alternatives, major offshoot of which was Mayor Duterte’s positive response to the challenging and progressive provisions of the Women Development Code and recently the Local Development Plan for Children, which again put the mayor into controversy, especially on reproductive health.

We view as malicious, too, that Councilor Angela Librado being misquoted as if to imply tolerance for the mayor’s sexist behavior.

We view sexism as everybody’s issue, that one should have ownership in terms of looking for short term and long term solutions. Not all sexist behavior may have legal definitions but everybody can take action in the very places and sphere they have influence on. Together we can fight sexism in politics, in the media, in the halls of academe, in the workplace, in our very homes and even in our bedrooms.

It is out of context and a governance failure to leave everything to Gabriela. We are only part of those agents of change and we are not macho superheroes that save all victims and survivors. Our methodologies have always been one of genuine empowerment towards achieving women’s liberation. Overcoming sexism is both personal and collective which requires a process and not carelessly doled out to victim-survivors of sexism. The paradigm of the century is engaged citizenship. People must learn to analyze the issue critically, in a given context, and take responsible actions.
Rep. Ilagan has said her piece. The next step is for people to take positive and responsible actions. If people, indeed, have arrived at a critical analysis of the issue, they should not have turned this into a political weapon to discredit the biggest machinery of the feminist movement in Davao .Stop all this hypocrisy.

We challenge everyone to get involved!

For reference:
Jean Lindo, M.D.

Chair, Gabriela Network of Professionals – Davao City

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