Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. In celebration of this day, I decided to feature an organization fighting for women's rights here in the Philippines, the Third World Movement Against Exploitation Against Women. While the Philippines was ranked by the World Economic Forum as among the Top 10 countries in the world for gender equality, plenty of women still suffer from forms of oppression, rape and abuse. In fact, it is estimated that up to 50% of all women trafficked all over the world are Filipinas. Even sadder is that some women become prey to prostitution by their own countrymen, who lure them with promises of legitimate jobs but who instead make them work in brothels or arrange for them to marry foreigners in sham marriages. Also, as the country remains a mostly patriarchal society, rape victims are still viewed as "dirty", as if she courted the abuse she experienced. Because of the social and cultural stigma attached to rape victims, as well as the inefficiency present in some law enforcement agencies in the Philippines, many of the victims prefer to suffer in silence.
TW-MAE-W supports women by providing them with livelihood.
These are some of the bags that the women make.
Since its founding on Human Rights Day on December 10, 1980, TW-MAE-W has helped thousands of women escape the chains of sexual abuse, slavery and exploitation. Through their drop-in centers and homes, they are able to provide the victims a host of services including residential care, counseling and psychosocial therapy, livelihood training, and educational, medical and legal assistance. Many of the women have gone on to lead productive lives in different areas in society.
The wall in the prayer room of one of the residential homes of the foundation. That home shelters around 12 children, one as young as 9. The children are mostly victims of rape and incest.
Women hold up half the sky, as the Chinese saying goes. Happy Women's day to all the beautiful, amazing, empowered women here. And to the men who love us, who treat us with much kindness and respect, cheers to you, as well.