“Community cooperation and cohesiveness increase while livelihoods and incomes become steady. The people develop an entrepreneurial drive accompanied with working hand in hand with community members. The sense of unity and camaraderie flourish.”
Despite the number of interventions done to promote empowerment through basic human rights, women are still suffering from inequities around the world. The role of women in our society is crucial and we must continue to empower them. Without them development will never occur. I met two women who defied cultural limitations, finding ways to empower fellow women and the community as a whole. It is timely that I share with you a story I learned when I travelled to the conflict-stricken part of my country, Mindanao Philippines.
The Philippines is a country of 7,101 islands and 171 dialects, which means that language barriers and communication are still big issues. Adding to that, this highly conservative Christian realm sometimes hinders the implementation of laws and policies benefitting women and reproduction. Poverty and illiteracy continue to rise. The gap between the rich and the poor is wider than ever. As the case gets worse, the heaviest burden is carried by the most vulnerable members of the population, the women and children.
In Philippine history, insurgency in Mindanao has been a perennial problem. The majority of people have stereotyped Muslims as leftists. This prejudiced attitude and uncritical judgement exacerbate the problems and create unhealthy relations with fellow Filipinos.