schoolscolleges2020 hed news

by Kelly Camille Alair, SD Volunteer

In celebration of National Women’s Month, the Social Involvement and Advocacy Program (SIAP) of the Social Development (SD) Cluster, in collaboration with the Xavier Ateneo Gender and Development (XAGAD) Office, initiated an All Leaders’ Forum on 13 March 2024, at the AVR 3.

Focusing on “Women’s Rights in Today’s Time,” the forum served as a platform for open dialogue on contemporary legal issues regarding women's rights, facilitating collaboration, and exploring potential interventions to promote gender equality and empowerment.

Experts and advocates shared insights and strategies for advancing women's rights within legal frameworks, including cultivating gender-inclusive environments in organizations or units. Organization heads from the University and the city participated.

XAGAD Officer Dennise Edwina Gonzales opened the program with her welcoming message, highlighting the rationale of the initiative and Xavier Ateneo’s efforts to foster a community that values and recognizes women's contributions, roles, and leadership.

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Atty Khristine Kay M Lazarito-Calingin, Chief GAD Specialist of the Philippine Commission on Women -
North Mindanao Field Office, sharing her insights as the main resource person during the forum

To address the topic at hand, Atty Khristine Kay Lazarito-Calingin, Chief GAD Specialist of PCW (Philippine Commission on Women)–Northern Mindanao Field Office, delivered a talk on women’s rights, roles, and responsibilities.

Enumerating examples of gender sensitivity issues, Atty Kay first presented the imperceptible needs of women. She then delved into societal expectations of men and women, citing the stereotypical roles assigned to these genders evident in workplaces, institutions, and even at home. She explained that these expectations often perpetuate violence against women.

“Protecting women's rights involves mainstreaming shared responsibility,” said Atty Kay, emphasizing that educating society is essential to challenging norms that endanger women’s rights.

“Kasi kung hindi open ang gender lens, it will result [in a] gap. It will result [in] unequal access to—and even control of—resources. Hence, gender issue ‘yan,” added Atty Kay, emphasizing the importance of balancing productive and reproductive roles between men and women to alleviate gender issues.

After introducing the Magna Carta of Women and legislation for women, Atty Kay concluded her discussion by highlighting the qualities of a “shero:” one who empowers others as well as herself.

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Dr Hobart Savior of the Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts and Judge Jerlie Requerme of the
Federacion Internacional De Abogadas - CDO sharing their valuable reactions from the main talk on
“Women's Rights in Today's Time.”

In response to the presentation, gender advocate and Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA) Director Prof Hobart Savior shared personal insights, acknowledging that the pursuit of gender equality stems from the presence and prevalence of inequality.

“When we tolerate certain practices that become a norm… that will actually threaten our survival in this Republic, then we won’t see development,” stated Prof Hobart, contending that promoting one’s right to self-determination is key to gender development.

Further in their feedback, Prof Savior recognized the place of women in Philippine society: “In our Filipinos’ collectivist culture, we celebrate the roles of women that complete the Filipino family and the Filipino nation. Walang bayan kung walang babae.”

Prof Savior also encouraged the audience to realize better opportunities, services, and honorable narratives for all genders, affirming that gender sensitivity is everyone’s responsibility.

Reacting to the discussion as well, Judge Jerlie Luis-Requerme, President of the Federación Internacional de Abogadas (FIDA)–CDO, weighed in on the transformation and growth of women's rights.

“All of us here are just fortunate to be born in a time and an environment where we are already enjoying the freedom and the privileges we have now because of those who have unceasingly fought for them,” stated Judge Jerlie.

Highlighting the nation’s leading role in global women's rights movements, she remarked, “The country has been at the forefront of women’s rights movements, not only in Asia but in the world. We already have women… practically in all sectors of society.”

Still, Judge Jerlie observed, “Though gender parity is still a long way, we are slowly veering away from the archaic mentality that the role of women is just a homemaker. Women now are seen as equal partners in the family’s decision-making. Laws and jurisprudence have now protected women, even in marriage,” reminding the audience that there is still room for optimism in this enduring fight against gender inequality.

Following an open forum, SIAP Director Nestor Banuag Jr expressed his gratitude to the resource persons, partners, and participants, summarizing the entire forum. He stated that while gender mainstreaming is not an easy task, the University is maximizing its capacity such as integrating this into the curriculum.

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Engaging dialogue as participants exchange perspectives and ideas during the Open Forum.

The All Leaders’ Forum concluded with CSG (Central Student Government) President Adam Emmanuel Guanzon’s closing remarks.

In his speech, Adam lamented the unjustifiable reasons society tolerates inequalities. “‘Ay, babae ka. Weak, emotional, and always too much.’ These are the very perceptions that society has attached to women; worse, these perceptions have been used to establish ill-driven acts against women and have been the very source of a patriarchal system that has persisted even until today.”

“While we have made significant progress and strides in our society, there is still much ground to cover: women still face discrimination, oppression, and marginalization solely because of their gender,” Adam reflected, then drawing attention to the CSG’s efforts to tailor initiatives that cater to the needs and concerns of women at XU.

To conclude, Adam encouraged the audience to dismantle the barriers that tolerate the status quo, underscoring the importance of creating a safe space for women to voice their concerns.

“It is imperative that we reaffirm our dedication to gender equality and women’s rights by advocating for policy changes, fostering diversity and inclusion in every sector, and confronting harmful stereotypes and biases that fuel inequality,” Adam urged.

The All Leaders’ Forum: “Women’s Rights in Today’s Time” reflects Xavier Ateneo’s commitment to nurturing a society that appreciates and acknowledges the strength and resilience of women. It aimed to inform the University’s constituents about the historical challenges women have faced, their innovative contributions spanning various cultures, and their courageous endeavors to assert their rights while promoting solidarity with others.

This initiative reminds the XU community to actively participate in addressing gender-related issues and supporting movements for gender justice, reinforcing the message that these issues are not exclusive to women but are societal concerns that require collective and collaborative action to solve.