In a time of anxiety—from rising authoritarianism to the spread of COVID-19—Paulina Nayra finds a new way to gather and honor women: technology.
“This is not an ordinary International Women’s Day.”
As the world celebrated International Women’s Day this week, the news of the spread of Coronavirus in many parts of the world hogs the headlines.
This is not an ordinary Women’s Day. We celebrate in a time when we think we have mustered enough gains by promoting the rights of women, claiming our space in this predominantly 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 other hardships. The things we have taken for granted—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 it without verifying the accuracy of the contents. In an increasingly digital world, it is easy for the purveyors of fake news to reach their audience and those addicted to social media to consume, defend, and promote falsehoods.
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 government actions and inactions results in bullying by trolls, when political dissent is almost equated to subversion, when street protests are interpreted as sedition. The result is shrinking civic spaces.
Still, we resist.
We celebrate in a time when the novel Coronavirus (COVID 19) is spreading, 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 have been 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 about 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 while taking precautionary measures—washing hands, avoiding close contact, staying home, covering sneezes and coughs, using face masks if we are sick—but still, we celebrate.
This story was published as part of World Pulse's #SheTransformsTech digital campaign and the Story Awards program. We believe every woman has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could receive added visibility, or even be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.