‘Corruption is a women’s issue’ | 2015 One Billion Rising campaign to center on corruption, system change

“It is about time for a radical shift, not only in consciousness, but also in the people and the system. We need to step up to a level where we do not only demand justice, but address the very causes of injustice.” – Monique Wilson, actress, woman activist, global director of One Billion Rising global director

BY ANNE EDNALYN DELA CRUZ
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — The women sector is set to take the crusade against corruption to the next level, as One Billion Rising (OBR) global director Monique Wilson announced at the Sept. 15 OBR global media launch the 2015 campaign theme, “One Billion Rising Revolution: Women rise against corruption, rise for system change!”

Wilson said the new campaign theme that centers on revolution against corruption and for system change is an escalation of the two previous campaigns, as it does not only raise consciousness and demand for justice, but aims to target the root causes of injustice and overhaul the system.

“With One Billion Rising for Justice in 2012, we ascertained that intersectional issues like neoliberal policies, militarization, foreign intervention, and exploitation have perpetuated violence against women and girls in many different countries,” she said.

One Billion Rising global director Monique Wilson, together with the officers and members of Gabriela Philippines
One Billion Rising global director Monique Wilson, together with the officers and members of Gabriela Philippines

“It is about time for a radical shift not only in consciousness, but also in the people and the system. We need to step up to a level where we do not only demand justice, but address the very causes of injustice,” Wilson underscored that even with the rising consciousness and active participation of women in combating violence, the number of incidents have not changed but worsened.

Wilson also reiterated that in the Philippines, among the many issues that needs special attention is corruption. She said during the soft launch of the OBR campaign at the Mehan Garden on Sept. 12 that it is about time that corruption should be looked on seriously and critically as it has terribly affected the lives of many, especially women, “The government’s corruption of public money, misappropriation of military budget, defunding of social services, and extremely corrupted sense of political governance have contributed to the rise of social justice and rampant incidents of violence against women and children.”

Gabriela, one of the organizers of the One Billion Rising campaign in the Philippines, seconded Wilson’s claims.

Gabriela Deputy Secretary General Obeth Montes said their most recent research revealed that one girl or woman is raped every one hour and 21 minutes, and a woman is beaten by her partner every 31 minutes. She said these figures are worse than the previous years.

She noted that the increase in the reported cases may reflect that more women are bravely breaking their silence and consciously fighting for their rights. However, it also suggests that the Philippine government has failed to put an end to violence against women and girls.

“The continuous rise of VAW cases is alarming. But what’s even more alarming is that the government appears to be not doing anything about it. The money that is apportioned for programs that will address issues like VAW is being pocketed by the very few who are in power,” Montes lamented.

Gabriela Secretary General Joms Salvador added that the government, including the authorities, should be held accountable for the rise in violence cases. She explained, “Acts of violence against women and children are becoming more brazen because we have a government that condones impunity and promotes violence and injustice.”

Salvador also slammed the government for highlighting women’s rights and gender equality only as lip-service.

She said, “When we talk about VAW, we talk about the government and its efforts to eradicate it. Our government instead promotes policies and programs that are detrimental to women and the people. It breeds corruption of public funds, promotes a brutally corrupt and decadent police institution, defunds social services to allot public monies on anti-people programs, militarizes communities and allows a foreign government to occupy our land.”

Monique Wilson revealed during the launch that neither the government nor the Philippine Commission for Women – the national agency primarily created to address women’s concerns and promote women’s advancement – did express support to the global campaign, considering that it is one, if not the largest worldwide campaign for the advancement of women’s rights.

“There is no support whatsoever from the government. We quite expected that, though. In more than 200 countries worldwide that participated in the campaign, very few government institutions have expressed support. Probably because the campaign goes after the perpetrators of violence who, unfortunately, are part of the government,” Wilson explained.

On February 14, 2015, one billion women from various countries are expected not only to rise to demand justice, but to also stand up to combat corruption and push for system change.

Women Rising Against Corruption

Women from different cities in Metro Manila gathered at Women Rising Against Corruption at Mehan Garden in Manila
Women from different cities in Metro Manila gathered at Women Rising Against Corruption at Mehan Garden in Manila

Meanwhile, women’s organizations, together with students, mothers, and workers, converged at the Mehan Garden in Manila Sept. 12 for the Women Rising Against Corruption – an event calling for people, especially for women to stand up, speak out, and sign up to abolish the pork barrel system.

Also present to express and call for support to abolish pork barrel were Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines president Sandra Cam and former beauty queen and actress Rochelle Barrameda.

Cam first appeared before the public when she came out as whistleblower in the Senate investigation on the jueteng scandal during the Arroyo administration. She urged women to stand up for their right to live free from corruption.

“I first came out to fight corruption during the term of President Arroyo. Now, as a woman and a citizen who detests corruption, I stand again here to fight corruption of all forms. I call on all women and citizens to join our battle against corruption and the pork barrel system. Let us all put an end to the corrupt practices of this administration,” Cam said

Barrameda highlighted that corruption and injustice are all-encompassing issues, which affect all citizens, including celebrities.

She shared that she and her family continue to seek justice for her sister Ruby Rose Barrameda who was disappeared and later found dead in 2009. Her murder remains unsolved to this day.“No one is exempted from experiencing the impact of corruption and injustice. We should all unite to put an end to corruption and injustice.”

Gabriela Women’s Party representatives bared corruption as one of the primary factors that fetter women’s advancement and is responsible for the rise of violence against women.

GWP Rep. Luz Ilagan said, “Corruption has horribly affected us all. Some women may not realize it yet, but corruption has played a crucial role in our daily sufferings. The public funds that should have been used to provide us and our families with social services, health aides, education, and housing were used to serve the interest of greedy government officials.”

Students from different colleges and universities have also come out to express rage against corruption through cultural performances. Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Tulos Baybay, Universidad de Manila Chorale, and Tourism students from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila enthused the audience with their song, dance, and role-play performances, which depict the plight of women in a society ruled by a corrupt government.

The women’s gathering also served as a venue to collect signatures for the People’s Initiative Against Pork (PIAP). Sign-up booths were installed around the venue to accommodate people who want to take part in the six-million signature drive to abolish pork barrel system – an initiative first launched in a multisectoral congress in Cebu City last August. ()

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