More than 200 women from feminist grassroots organizations gathered at the Rizal Park on Friday afternoon, March 8, to observe International Women’s Day.
Dressed in purple and pink shirts and purple flower crowns, the women, belonging to the coalition World March of Women-Pilipinas, denounced the “forces that set us back in our hard-won struggles” as they took turns criticizing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his government’s “patriarchy and misogyny.”
Etta Rosales, former head of the Commission on Human Rights, joined the protest and represented the group in requesting riot police to allow the women to conduct a program using their sound equipment, but they ended up using only a megaphone as they were not allowed to do their speeches through loudspeakers.
“Rules are rules and we, women know how to abide by them,” Rosales said. “But when it comes to our welfare, we have to speak up no matter what.”
To dramatize Filipino women’s circumstances, the marchers also wore sashes bearing such slogans as “Amend the anti-rape law,” “Stop the drug war killings,” and “Stop sexual violence.”
They said women are under attack in the Philippines by the President himself who encourages sexual violence and degrades women and girls with his sexist remarks.
Mothers, along with their children and male colleagues, also joined the rally that called on the government not to overturn gains already made in women’s rights, foreign policy, agricultural and agrarian reforms, child rights, and basic freedoms.
“As we continue to confront assaults on women’s rights, victories, and advocacies, we want this International Women’s Day to be a day to affirm our role in the forefront not only of women’s but also of the peoples’ struggles,” the coalition said in a statement shared to media.
The coalition includes Bagong Kamalayan Prostitution Survivors’ Collective, Inc., BUKLOD–Olongapo, Center for Migrants’ Advocacy (CMA), Coalition Against Trafficking in Women–Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), Partido Manggagawa (PM)–Women, SARILAYA, Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)–Women, WomanHealth Philippines, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) and Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE).
The World-March of Women- Pilipinas is one of the protest marches that marked the International Women’s Day in Manila.