Tuesday, March 29, 2011

40,000 and 100

Before the month ends, let me say a piece.

March is women’s month, not because M when inverted is W, but it signified deep and heroic as its origin can be traced way back in 1911 in many European nations as well as in the United States that on 8 March they celebrated the First International Women’s Day.

In the United States, aside from the right to universal suffrage, the fire that gutted the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on 25 March 1911 and left many dead was said to be a key event in labor and women's history. The factory was a typical shop where immigrant women and girls could find work.

(In the Philippines, perhaps, it is the warmth comfort of March that brought Sen. Panfilo Lacson to surface. Will his presence now brings more foe or friend to Reproductive Health or RH bill?)

Women’s right then, as in now, was a political hot topic.

If winning the vote was a priority of many women’s movements a century ago, in the Philippines (and many parts in other impoverished countries), it is winning the right to reproductive health – a universal and basic human right – counts the most.

This is why, when the Roman Catholic hierarchy reiterated its reality detached opposition to RH bill, it signified once more its opposition to the full deliverance of women, at least within the context of the right to informed choice and family planning. Denial of information is a basic human rights violation.

Disturbing data provided a grim reminder that 11 mothers dying everyday due to pregnancy and birth complications did not even touched the selective “pro-life” stance of stone-walled hearts of some church leaders. Whatever happened to the child left behind by the mother is another disturbing reality.

Taking a cursory look at the way some Catholic Church officials opposed RH bill is beyond their opposition to the bill as anti-life and deeper than their inconsequential “pro-life” stance. It is their desire to continue a feudal and patriarchal culture that will continue women to be submissive to men in all aspects of their life. Submission is exploitation.

Encouraging women to be at par or equal, again within the context of the right to reproductive health, will encourage more issues, beyond reproductive health, for women to participate and fight for. One thing Catholic hierarchy don’t want to happen as it faces an internal problem of women religious and lay who are beginning to lurk within the church’s womb for more religious freedom.

The 40,000 who attended the Luneta grand rally called by the Catholic hierarchy against the right to reproductive health all came from women. And if the 40,000 survived, we don’t know how many of those who gave life to the 40,000 died due to pregnancy and birth complications or how many were denied of maternal health care services that lead to unnecessary maternal death.

March is the most opportune time of the year to remind ourselves how grateful we are seeing the women in our lives safe from risks and vulnerabilities of their physical and social well-being. But it is also a time to save the threatened due to their inability to protect themselves from maternal related risks.

Let us revisit the past by learning lessons how women’s movement victoriously won the right to vote by applying it to win victories to women and men’s inherent right to reproductive health.

Save women and society, say yes to our right to reproductive health.

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