As a woman brought up with her independence given to me, my concept and perspective of human freedom might be very different to other people, especially to my fellow Eva’s in the women sector of society. Although I was born and raised in Mindanao, known as the “Land of Promise”, I cannot deny that there are a lot of issues confronting women’s rights and privileges in this part of the country. As a silent activist and feminist, I have seen various quests and struggles for equal recognition of the rights and capacities of women, especially Muslim women. They struggle to be recognized as pivotal members in developing society.
The fight for equality of women is still clouded by the claws of the past and the present dilemma of achieving lasting peace. Mindanao became an inescapable cage for women to be educated and empowered and be given their own sense of essence and voice in this world. The recognition and protection of their rights is not something worth debating. The misconstrued notion that women are truly weak and dependent on the patriarchal system of the society is a failure that needs to be addressed.
This is a an incorrect understanding of what really is the definition of human freedom. I believe human freedom like education, should be emancipating and not enslaving. Freedom, per se, should be able to let anyone, particularly women, live their own lives and contribute to society without experiencing harassment and threats. Freedom should allow women to talk constructively and openly to men on issues that have great significance to them and their future. Freedom should let everyone go to school and achieve their own goals in life. Freedom, as an important element of any religion in the world, should respect the promotion and advancement of women in all of their dreams and struggles in society.
Women are bigger than life. We are set forth to make a difference. This is what human freedom is for me. I hope that some day it will take root in this country and the rest of the world.
By Jayhan M. Makina, Intern at World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific.