Just as world celebrated International Women’s Day, the news of the spread of corona virus in many parts of the world hog the headlines. This is not an ordinary women’s day. We celebrate in a time when we think we have mustered enough gains in promoting the rights of women, in claiming our space in this prevalently patriarchal world while hundreds of women and girls are suffering from partner abuse, sexual exploitation, poverty, discrimination and burdened with unpaid care work, illness in the family, among others. The things we took for granted, like potable water, sanitary napkins, clean air, fresh fish and food have become precious commodities inaccessible to many.
Still, we persist.
We celebrate in a time when we have more access to information and better education yet many unknowingly believe in false information and indiscriminately share them without verifying the accuracy of the contents acting as if they have not attended school at all. The digital world has made it easy for the purveyors of fake news to reach their audience and those addicted to social media to consume, defend and promote them.
Still, we educate.
We celebrate in a time when we can be proud that we can exercise our rights of suffrage, when we can choose the leaders we want, when many qualified talented and dedicated women can eligibly vie for elective positions yet, we wonder why people vote for misogynistic and populist men.
Still, we participate.
We celebrate in a time when criticizing some government actions and inactions result to bullying by trolls, when political dissent is almost equated to subversion, when street protests are interpreted as sedition resulting to shrinking civic spaces.
Still, we resist.
We celebrate in a time when the spread of the new corona virus (Covid 19) is expanding, when precautionary measures prevent us from going out and gathering with hundreds to conduct our activities for Women’s Month in the Philippines. In fact, several conferences and large meetings both local and international were cancelled because of this current menace.
Still, we celebrate.
In the Philippines, we celebrate by using technology. In small groups of World Pulse sisters for Kapehan (coffee talks) in Manila, Cebu, Tacloban and General Santos City and using Facebook Live. We celebrate online with Zoom meetings and webinars. We celebrate women leaders with video messages on feminist leadership. We celebrate the role and contribution of women at the Leyte Sab-a peatland, the second largest confirmed peat swamp forest in the country. We celebrate with women with disabilities on Women with Disabilities Day on the last Monday of March.
We celebrate with the following precautionary measures:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Use facemasks when you show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Happy Women’s Month everyone.