The year 2017 is a special year for France-Philippine friendship as it marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines. To mark this milestone, the Embassy of France has launched the year-long festival “PhilFrance: Feel French!” to celebrate shared values, among which is the defense of the rights of women. Promoting women’s rights should not be a concern discussed only in March. It is an everyday concern since, despite a narrowing gap between men and women, the world have not yet reached equality. The progression of gender relations in a society is a long-term process that consists of nothing less than changing values. Without changing values, social transformation remains superficial and backlashes become inevitable.
On May 16 at Events Center, 5th floor Century City Mall, Makati City, the Embassy of France will hold She for She: A Women’s Forum. According to them, She For She will symbolize women’s solidarity. This forum aims to highlight different initiatives of women supporting other women in various fields. Of course, gender equality is not just a women’s issue, but a human rights issue as well. Focusing on different types of engagement by women (be it in the field of politics, in civil society, or in the academe) is not an exclusive approach, but a way to bring women forward as actors of their own empowerment.
The forum opens with an overview of the current situation of women in the Philippines to provide the context for the three sequences that follow.
Political Battles. The first sequence presents political commitment through three profiles of women: the woman politician, who is involved in supporting and advocating women’s rights (she can a lawmaker or a government official); the woman activist, who fights on the ground for women’s political rights and builds networks of community-based women; and the feminist thinker and theorist, whose works contribute to the advancement of the cause of women, through her art or her academic research.
Independence. Independence requires having a free spirit, having your own sources of income, and being in control of one’s image in society. This is why the embassy will focus on women’s empowerment through the media, economic activity and education.
Body. The female body is linked to problematics of image and identity. It can be subjected to violence and needs to be protected. NGO representatives will share their experiences and insights in helping abused and assaulted women. Women also need to have control over their body, which is why the question of reproductive health rights is so important. Womanhood has many facets, especially in the Philippine society where a diversity of gender identities and expressions is very visible. Thus, they have sought to broaden the scope of people’s reflections in addressing the gender issue.
Speakers from the government, civil society, academe, media, and the LGBT community will come together for a whole-day forum to discuss the challenges women face today and how they can empower each other politically, economically, and through their body and identity.