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Championing rights of all women

International Women’s Day is celebrated every 8th of March where women rights advocates gather to raise issues on gender equality and abuses against their sector, among other pressing issues affecting women. Women labor movements started celebrating Women’s Day in North America and Europe in the early 20th century followed later by socialist and communist countries until the United Nations adopted it in 1977. 

My former group, Innabuyog Gabriela has been holding activities during Women’s Day to establish some sort of legitimacy on their claim of being champion of women’s rights. This year, Innabuyog Gabriela lined up series of activities not only for the Women’s Day but for Women’s month. These include discussion and campaign for women, clean up drives, medical mission, art exhibit on feminism, women situationer, Ladies’ Night, and One Billion Rising dance. 

For unsuspecting audiences, these activities seem to have good intentions. But as former member of this group, I have witnessed first-hand how such activities are conducted in a one-sided manner that shows only abuses and social inequalities that are blamed on the state forces and the government. Never did the Innabuyog Gabriela dared to condemn the harrowing experiences of female members under the hands of evil commanders of the New People’s Army (NPA). 

Former chairperson of the Anakbayan Central Luzon Lady Desiree Miranda, former NPA member in Leyte alias “Shane”, and NPA medic alias Banjie and sister alias Ruffa are only few of the many victims of sexual abuse within the NPA. None of them received sympathy from the Gabriela, which rather remains mum on these horrifying incidents. 

The Gabriela cries for justice for abuses against women but do not have the heart and the courage to do the same for countless women abused by the NPA. So, how can they have the audacity to claim and monopolize advocacy for women’s rights? 

When we say we fight for women’s rights, we fight for all women and not leave behind those who have already suffered so much from the hands of a terrorist group. Let this Women’s Day be a reminder that we should fight a genuine fight for all women and their rights.

Cristina Catbagan

Chairperson, Nagkakaisang Samahan para sa Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran (NSKK)

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