SHE TALKS PEACE: Unhappy New Year?

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QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 09 January) — Dear friends, I hope the holiday season has given you a break from worries – COVID, loss of income, depleted savings, political turmoil around the world.   You have probably saved up on joy and hope to face the challenges of 2022.   

Filipinos have a great capacity for putting on a happy face in times of trouble.  We are known for making jokes about our situation to make it more bearable.  You only have to view the memes that abound on the net about government inefficiency, politicians running for national office.  And COVID:  Fear 2022!  For it is 2020, too.

While I fear what 2022 can bring, I also have much to look forward to.  Several global think tanks have posted their analysis of threats and opportunities that 2022 brings.  From the World Economic Forum’s list, based on their global survey, it would seem that people around the world are more optimistic about the future than they were a year ago.  In spite of COVID new variants, rising prices, folks believe (want to believe?) that things will be better.  Hope springs eternal.  First, they believe there is progress in neutralizing the pandemic.  Second, after the horrifying months long forest fires, unbelievably strong and unseasonal tornadoes and cyclones, there is more optimism that countries will do something to tackle climate change.  Third, society is becoming more tolerant or flexible, adjusting to changes in the workplace brought about by the pandemic.  That is true. All these have become normal: zoom conferences, webinars, virtual parties to celebrate birthdays.  

On the fears and threats, 39% expect a natural disaster to affect them; 38% worry that foreign hackers can bring down their IT system, 34% fear use of nuclear weapons and 27% are scared of artificial intelligence in the wrong hands.  Oh, and we may be visited/invaded by aliens.  No kidding!  14% worry about this.  

As for me, I am cautiously optimistic about the future but worry about he worsening situation in conflict-affected areas due to COVID, with government attention distracted by the coming elections.  So less resources health and for the poor and marginalized, less attention to supporting the foundation for peace and development,  growing violence against women (domestic as well as external) in part due to the lockdowns.  

Listen to lawyers Twyla Rubin (Commission on Human Rights) and Kay Balajadia-Ligayyu (Women’s Legal Circle or WILOCI) talk about violence against women and what is being done by the Commission on Human Rights  and by civil society to end.  Both lawyers are alarmed by the increasing number of VAWC  (violence against women and children) cases in the country,  a grim setback that diminishes the Philippines’ pioneering efforts in pushing for women’s rights and gender equality.

Twyla and Kay point to the obliviousness of our women, with respect to their rights, due to lack of information, misinformation and limited access to support services.  These have inhibited the reporting of abuses, thus resulting in negligible number of complaints reported and actual cases prosecuted.

However, both also talk about what is being done to end VAW and promote women’s very human rights. 

There will and should always be a place in our community for lawyers like Twyla Rubin and Kay Balajadia Liggayu.  Their empathy for victims of abuse and violence may be directly attributed to their strong connection with the arts. It could be said that their sensibilities have been tempered by their artistic influences and temperament – Twyla with poetry, Kay with music.

Listen to Kay, a renowned soprano, sing “Somewhere,” an anthem of hope. 

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Amina Rasul is the President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, an advocate for Mindanao and the Bangsamoro, peace, human rights and democracy)

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