by Daniel Infante Tuaño
Pre-colonial history will tell us the important spiritual and political positions held by Filipino women in villages. In a traditional Filipino family, the mother serves as ilaw ng tahanan (literally translated as light of the home) while the father is the haligi ng tahanan (post of the home), which reflects the equal sharing of functions unless the‘padre de familia’ asserts his exclusive right in decision making.
Having a woman boss in las Islas Filipinas is neither new nor a fad amidst the current trend of affirmative action employed by some countries and international institutions to distribute job opportunities. As we all know, we already had two commanders-in-chief: the late President Cory Aquino and President-turned-Congresswoman Arroyo. We had a woman ambassador and currently, women occupy the top positions of the Madrid Consulate. Just recently, I got the chance to meet the leaders of Filipino associations from Madrid, Milan and Rome and 95% of them are women.
In Spain, Filipino migration has been considered for many years feminine until the hotel and restaurant sectors opened its doors to Filipino men. Migration is certainly bringing changes to gender roles both in the country of origin and the host country–women migrants, having an improved buying power, are taking the role of provider, which is the society-dictated role of Filipino men. These women migrants who usually take charge of ‘domestic’ roles, in turn, facilitate the entry of women of the host country to labor market.
Recently, a report on gender equality has been released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The report puts the Philippines in the top 10 among 134 countries in terms of gender equality.
“The WEF said that the Philippines continues to set the example in Asia, ranking ninth overall because of a strong performance on all four dimensions of the index: health and survival, educational attainment, economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment.”
Iceland and other Nordic countries top the list; United States is at top 15 while Spain is at top 11. Here’s the top 15:
To see the complete report, click The Global Gender Gap Report 2010
However, gender inequality still exists and it is not solely the fault of ‘evil’ men but the ‘patriarchal’ society in general, which by the way includes women. Certainly, there are women who are more chauvinist than their macho counterparts. And then there are those who pursue their self-serving interests in the guise of feminism, which eventually contradicts the very essence of equality.
*the Commander. Ironically, it can be interpreted as a term of endearment sometimes used by Filipino men to tell to OTHERS that their wives are powerful and the ones in control.