Duterte, Robredo call for women empowerment
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been accused of sexism and misogyny, has called for the empowerment of women and the breaking of the “backward mindset” that supports gender oppression and inequality on International Women’s Day.
Duterte, who jokes about rape and says that the presidency is not a job for women, said the government created an environment where “women’s rights are respected and their contributions to society are recognized.”
He urged support for advocacies that seek to fight for and acknowledge women’s rights as equal partners of men.
“Let us elevate women to their rightful place in society by empowering every Filipina to break not only the barriers that have long hindered them from reaching their full potential, but also the backward mindset that fueled a culture of gender oppression and inequality,” he said in his official message.
“While there is still much to be done to completely free women from the bondage of inequality, we can nonetheless proudly claim that concrete, sustainable, and inclusive actions have been taken by our government to create an environment where women’s rights are respected and their contributions to society are recognized,” he said.
The President drew flak in January when he said the presidency was not a job for a woman, who has a different emotional setup from that of a man.
Vice President Leni Robredo, herself a constant target of both Duterte and his supporters’ sexist, misogynist attacks, noted that gender balance “at the highest levels of leadership still need to be filled to truly create a more inclusive, holistic climate of change.”
Robredo affirmed the many victories of the fight for gender equality over the past decades: women have won the right to vote and have gained more economic and political ground as existing legislation protected their right to life and dignity.
But “the road remains long,” she said, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated some of the worst challenges for women’s rights.
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