It’s Women’s History Month and that means celebrating everything about every kind of woman worldwide! As we all know, since the historical birth of women’s suffrage, women have been continuously fighting for equality, respect, and recognition in societies. Although the fight for ending discrimination against women is still far from our reach, various women unapologetically force their way through that fair end by advocating and proving to the world what women can do and that they are humans who also deserve the same respect as anyone else.
Despite society relentlessly dictating what women should do with their lives, these powerful moments from modern women in the past years, months, and weeks really said, “Nope, we're gonna decide for ourselves.” And for sure, everyone remembered them. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane just for a moment to reminisce what owning oneself looks like.
When VP Leni Robredo continually proves women’s importance in society
Vice President Robredo has been top of the headlines throughout her term, and most of the time, if not the whole Philippines, she champions for all Filipinas in a multitude of ways. Back in 2017, VP Robredo acknowledged the need for economic empowerment for women to help them be independent of abusive marriages.
And just recently, she made an empowering statement about women in power and the impact they have, she stated, “Napapaligiran tayo sa buong mundo ng mga babae na napakahuhusay na chief executives. In fact, during the pandemic, yung mga best-performing na mga bansa ay led by women.”
When Rupi Kaur normalized menstruation
In 2015, the famous poet posted on Instagram a photo of her lying down, back faced to the camera showing her bloodstain from menstruating. She criticized Instagram for deleting her same photo tagging it as against the community guidelines of the said social media site and fought for her right to discuss the natural process of menstruation.
Throughout the post, Kaur shared her sentiments about society deeming menstruation as “dirty” but normalizing the sexualization and violence of women. She then said, “We menstruate and they see it as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.”
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When we had the first transwoman to ever join Miss Universe
How can we forget Ms. Angela Ponce? In the 2018 Miss Universe held in Bangkok, Thailand, Ponce broke the competition’s tradition by being the first transwoman to compete in the pageantry, representing Spain.
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Despite being discriminated against and rejected in the past due to her gender identity, Ponce fought for inclusivity and was given the opportunity to have an influential platform, and was honored as a woman during the competition. This historical moment advocated for more inclusivity and respect for the LGBTQ+, particularly transgender people, across settings. Let this be a reminder that transwomen are also women.
When Sarah Elago became the youngest woman legislator in the PH
When Elago was appointed as the Kabataan Partylist Representative last 2016, everyone knew it was another progressive step in providing women and the youth the voice they deserve in the country. Exuding a balance of gracefulness and toughness, humbleness and tenaciousness, Elago continues to be a champion for those communities oppressed by those in power by ensuring fair and beneficial policies for everyone.
Elago is one of the Filipino youth’s living proof that a woman’s ability and determination can provide hope to those who need it most, and the “kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan” premise is possible to live on.
When Keke Palmer gave us a lesson on "Self-love 101"
Before stepping into 2021, Keke Palmer opened up on Instagram about having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and how it brought her a severe acne condition. She shared her acne journey, how people tell her all the “right” things she has to do despite saying that she has had tried every kind of treatment since then.
She initiated awareness about what PCOS can bring to a woman’s body, acne being one of them, and how it should not prevent women from loving themselves. “I’m posting this to say that it’s okay and we can help ourselves. My skin has made me sad many nights but I do not give up on myself...” she said. “To all the people struggling with this please know you’re not alone and that you are still so fucking fine! MY ACNE AINT NEVER STOPPED ME.”
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When Kakie Pangilinan inspired the #HijaAko movement
Remember when Kakie Pangilinan courageously called out Ben Tulfo for victim-blaming women for the sexual adversaries they have encountered? A moment that inspired the birth of the #HijaAko movement. People expressed their support using the hashtag #HijaAko and suddenly became a safe platform for all women to fearlessly share their experiences as a contribution to raise awareness about how women should not be at fault and how abusers should be held accountable for their indecent behaviors.
Although Kakie was the one who called out Tulfo, the said movement was a collective effort from all Filipinas. The #HijaAko was not just a moment, it is another step to encourage women to let nobody demoralize them.
When Katie Bouman provided the world the first black hole image
To my STEM women out there, we know this was a proud moment for you! Dr. Bouman, together with her team, was the first scientist to introduce us to the first real image of a black hole. Dr. Bouman’s algorithm added new information to science and new inspiration to all women who aspire to flourish as scientists, a field that is once dominated by men. Further, she humbly told CNN News, "No one of us could've done it alone, it came together because of lots of different people from many different backgrounds."
When Lili Reinhart confronted body-shamers
In 2018, a photo of the Riverdale actress circulated on the internet, and netizens immediately accused her of being pregnant. Reinhart took the high road and saw this as an opportunity not to reprimand the body-shamers but to impart awareness about normalizing every kind of body shape out there.
She shared her sentiments on her IG stories back then, saying, “Nope. Not pregnant, this is just my body. And sometimes I’m bloated. Sometimes an unflattering photo is taken of me. Sometimes I go through periods of time where I gain weight. My body will constantly go through change. And so will yours. And that’s fine.” In the present, Reinhart is still outspoken in advocating for body positivity for both women and men.
When Malala Yousafzai gave one of the most memorable speeches in UN
Malala Yousafzai fought for women’s right to education relentlessly even after being shot by the Taliban due to her advocacy when she was 15 years old. After her striking recovery, support from around the world spurred. Her determination gave her the chance to speak at United Nations, where she presented a remarkable speech about everyone’s, especially women's and children's, rights to equal education, and to be outspoken.
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them,” she said at UN, along with encouraging world leaders to focus on strategies for peace and prosperity. Malala is proof that nobody is too young to change the world.
When the Adamsonian student fought back in the LRT station
Back in 2017, a Twitter post became viral about Ryiene Espino, who got an injury from protecting herself from her harasser at an LRT station. Many people expressed support to the student, and many took this as a powerful statement that women will not back down from those who will disrespect them.