Celebrating 83 years of women’s suffrage in the Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — On April 30, 1937, or exactly 83 years back from this day, an overwhelming majority of 447,725 Filipino women voted in a plebiscite in favor of their right to vote in political elections.
Since the first national election in 1907 for the Philippine Assembly until the adoption of the 1935 Constitution, only Filipino men were allowed to vote in the country.
“Filipino women were deprived of their right of suffrage on what we may now find as a frivolous, if not a totally ridiculous ground: they were mere ‘extensions of their husbands and fathers not fit to participate in the affairs of the government (whose) sweet womanliness should be protected from political strife and passion so that sweet home may not lose any of its sweetness,’” election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said in a statement on Wednesday, a day before the commemoration of Filipino women’s gain of suffrage.
“But they fought hard and strongly argued that ‘taxation without representation is tyranny (for) in a democratic government, all qualified citizens, men, and women alike, can and should make their valuable contribution in deciding what their community will undertake to do through its government, by what means, and through what officials,’” added Macalintal.
The election lawyer noted that their efforts were not in vain when a provision was added to the 1935 Constitution which stated that women would be allowed to vote if, in a plebiscite, at least 300,000 qualified women shall vote affirmatively on the matter.
Under Commonwealth Act No. 34, April 30, 1937, marked the first time that women in the country exercised suffrage as 447,725 Filipino women cast their votes in favor of their right to vote in the country, noted Macalintal.
“Hence, from then on and up to the present, Filipino women were allowed to vote and be voted that paved the way for active women participation in the government as we saw the emergence of great and powerful elected Filipino women leaders in our country,” he said.
On March 29, 1984, former President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation No. 2346 declaring April 30 as “Woman Suffrage Day” to enable Filipino women to “renew their advocacy and support for clean, honest and free elections and pursue with greater zeal their efforts towards this direction.”
“And even today, we stand witness to the heroic and valuable contribution to our community of the women sector as we observe the many female doctors, nurses, health workers and other women who, together with their male counterparts, continue to sacrifice as front liners to combat COVID-19 pandemic,” added Macalintal.
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