September 7, 2007 · Posted in: Congress Watch, i Report Features

Women of the House

THE House of Representatives now has more female members than ever, and the newest deputy speaker of the House is also a woman. But these may not be a guarantee that bills in support of women’s welfare and rights would have a smooth time in the legislature. As Carolyn Sobritchea, executive director of the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies (UPCWS), observes, “Being biologically women does not necessarily mean women legislators would have an inclination to support women’s causes. What is heartbreaking is that some of these women themselves oppose, or are not supportive of, women’s issues.”

Indeed, official statistics even reveal that almost half of what women’s rights advocate consider as pieces of “feminist legislation” garnered a higher percentage of votes from male legislators than their female counterparts. It’s also curious that many of the pro-women laws were passed during the Eighth Congress, which so far had the lowest number of female members in the post-Marcos era. At that time, too, many of the women lawmakers were “first-timers,” who “confessed to feeling they had to first ‘earn their spurs’ as representatives of a general constituency, and that championing women’s issues might limit their influence and appeal,” says women’s rights activist and newspaper columnist Rina Jimenez-David.

Activists do concede that women have nevertheless gained ground in the last two decades in terms of laws that protect many of their rights. But they say that much work remains to be done — and they have not given up hope that more female legislators would step up to help pass more pro-women laws.

We hope the the closing piece in i Report‘s series on Filipino women will help your readers gain some insights not only about women legislators, but also on how Congress works.

Read on at

Comment Form