RISE UP: The Modern Filipina, Girl Rising Amidst Social and Cultural Barriers
The month of March does not only equate to the start of summer When In Manila but also to International Women’s Month celebration.
Both a globally and locally recognized movement, the women empowerment encapsulated Rise UP: A Talk on Women’s Right to Education was held last March 15, 2014 at the University of the Philippines Film Institute hosted by the UP Diliman UNESCO Club. The guest speakers were Professor Judy Taguiwalo of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development, Professor Sylvia Estrada Claudio of the UP Center for Women’s Studies, and Dr. Yvonette Duque of World Vision.
Raising awareness on women’s struggles politically, socially and culturally has been an ongoing advocacy that dealt with women’s issues in all sectors of today’s society with education and career as the forerunners. According to Professor Claudio, “investing in girls is a way to assert their right to education which would then lead to social justice.” In addition to this, she stated that “all should have education and rights should be asserted especially those that will protect the women.”
Her lecture also gave emphasis on implementing sexuality education as early as pre-school. Dr. Duque also mentioned that “when making child policies/programs, children should be present with the guidance of adults” stressing that the only way to “change behaviors is to carry on practices that foster women empowerment and assertion of rights.”
These issues were however met with challenges that made it difficult for a Filipina to assert her rights, as well as her role in our current society. Professor Taguiwalo enumerated these challenges as, “poverty, corruption, electoral fraud and political repression, environmental degradation and disasters, culture of machismo and sexism, divorce law and reproductive health law and the LGBT community, implementation of pro-women legislation and political representation of young women and working-class women.”
In partnership with Spark Philippines, Inc., the UP Diliman UNESCO Club at the end of the Rise UP talk also included a special screening of Girl Rising, a documentary film by Academy award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins about the success stories of 9 girls from all over the world who had the courage to deviate against the norms and claim their right in society as a woman.
Their stories were written by prize-winning authors and world renowned actors such as Liam Neeson, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, to name a few, gave voices to the girls’ stories.
General Critiques on Rise Up’s Girl Rising
What it means to be a girl? Everything.
A glimpse on what women all over the world experience is the highlight of the documentary film. Every woman and every girl out there faces a different challenging situation every single day. Culturally, politically and socially, these 9 girls battled it out to strive for their right – a matter of endurance and survival. Women of character, they may be called. Theirs were stories of resiliency, hope and determination. As far as the progression of each scene is concerned, the layout as well as the choice for the development of each story was excellently carried out.
The transition differs in a way that each story carries with it its own character, its own uniqueness possibly because of the diversity of the person’s background that was being portrayed. It was no common documentary film as each story were told in various narrative styles (re-enactment, animation, etc.) depicting the core values that can be learned in each story. The narration shifts from first person to second person narrative which breaks the monotony of the usual documentary film and places the audience on a different mood as each story is being told.
The living circumstances of some girls in the film are heartbreaking. It did come to a point that what was being told is unimaginable given the social and cultural norms/traditions which they have to abide and break through such as the case of Suma in Nepal and Amina in Afghanistan. It is a matter of life and death for them. Breaking barriers were never easy especially for women who are in no position of power, living in the worst conditions and yet under certain circumstances were put in a position of influence.
All these 9 girls struggled to make a difference. Same as our modern Filipinas who struggled to fight for longer maternity leaves, for the passing of the Reproductive Health bill, for gender equality, and most of all for the right to education which were all tackled during the open forum at the Rise UP talk.
When In Manila, do not pass up on this opportunity to create a difference no matter how big or small it is. Visit girlrising.com if you want to be part of this advocacy. Your little girls and all the little girls in the years to come will have you to thank for the change it made in the women empowerment movement.
(Special thanks to the UP Diliman UNESCO Club for the warm welcome and Ms. Jalyn Aficial for taking some of the photos.)
If you want to feel empowered, read another interesting article on women empowerment here: http://www.wheninmanila.com/the-better-story-project-for-a-better-you/.
UNESCO Club UPD