MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Carework Must be Shared by Woman and Man

(Speech delivered at the Flag Ceremony of the Mindanao State University main campus in Marawi City on 19 March 2018)

I come here to honor your mothers, those who gave us the possibility of growth.

Zamboanga’s siege and our own siege experience remind us that all issues are women’s issues.

In Zamboanga siege, a researcher writes many harassments in certain incidents against privacy even sexual, stooping to prostitution. Sa datos noong 2013, lumalabas na talagang nakaranas ang babae ng pamboboso, sexual harassment at panggagahasa sa mga pampublikong banyo, panunutsot, pang-aabusong pisikal mula sa kapwa bakwit … ” (Valerio, Laoanen, 2017)

In the Marawi siege’s early months of evacuation, violation of privacy in few comfort rooms and spaces was manifest. “Sa kasalukuyang kalagayan sa evacuation center, bulnerable ang kababaihan laban sa karahasan” (Valerio, Laoanen, 2017).

I grew up more than a decade in the Middle East, where many of our kababayans are domestic helpers (DH). We know there are many experiences behind closed doors particularly for some abusive male boss who is alone with the woman kasambahay.

We call on the Government to recommit to the primacy of peace as guaranteed in the Constitution, the highest law of the land, which dedicates ONE WHOLE paragraph on promoting women’s well-being.

Peace of mind is a substantial right, we remind in a CSO manifesto for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the right to breathe must also be guaranteed.

I also come here to honor women like former ARMM Vice Governor Bainon Karon, an MNLF bangsabai like some of you here in proud RANAO.

Where could we be without the women who bore us, gave us room for nine months?

This Miriam College’s Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) 2016 study entitled “Baseline Research on the Issues and Status of Women in ARMM” reminds that carework must be recognized. “It is necessary to recognize reproductive and carework as important contributions to peace building and therefore must inform policies, programs and activities aimed at addressing women, peace and security concerns….” Security is seen as a human experience of everyday life mediated through a variety of social structures (Truong real 2006).

We may not be in air-conditioned offices with nameplates but the multiple burden to satisfy happiness of children and husbands is the biggest work. Labor of love must have its hourly recognition.

We remind partners and husbands: every word matters, please don’t joke that we smell or look ugly or you want to marry again. We remind that care work should be shared. Everyone of us gets tired sa pagkakayod.

“Women may be in desperate need of income, government then must be mindful of the kind of opportunities it provides. For women to truly benefit, government must be reminded that an overemphasis on paid labor and formal employment would create multiple burdens for the very women they seek to help…” (WAGI)

In the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Women’s Day in its Central Office last week, we reminded the Philippine National Police and Philippine Military Academy to be present in regions and recruit more of us in Mindanao and women. We also remind the Mindanao State University (MSU) Peacekeeping Force to recruit women. How can a kasambahay report her grievance against a male to a male?

The fourth estate MEDIA is clearly a MAJOR GAP and a need for us in Bangsamoro and Mindanao. We are blamed for not reporting terrorism but were platforms facilitated and provided for, we ask. Women thus must be engaged in the alien world called politics; it cannot be the muscle and brawn-machineries controlling it. Tindigan ang kampanya laban terrorism in going house to house, engaging the youth knowing what they check online.

Thanks again Sir for the platform to remind that man-made disasters are the worst for mothers because of the multiple loss of trust to oneself and to the outside world .

Thanks MSU President Habib Macaayong for the support to hear that gender and development must be cascaded down to the campus level, every department level.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira Ali Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., co-founder of the Young Moro Professionals resigned as Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in late May, days after the Marawi Crisis started, citing personal reasons and policy questions. Samira is one of the organizers of the Ranao Rescue Team, a group set up to respond to the crisis. She had earlier served as an assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; was former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc. and former director of the Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc.)