Early feminism in the Philippines – an inspiration

Early feminism in the Philippines
PFA105996 Philippino Women Washing Beneath a Banana Tree, 1863 (w/c over pencil on paper) by Andrews, C. W. (fl.1855-65) watercolour over pencil on paper 50x38 Private Collection © Bonhams, London, UK English, out of copyright

The Philippines is one of the countries where gender disparity is less in the World. Unlike most countries in the World, Philippines give women equal chances of opportunity to participate in governance and society as a whole.

Following the Philippines history clearly, you will notice a few things:

  • They have had two female President such as Corazon Aquino from 1986 to 1992, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2001 to 2010
  • The first woman became a Supreme Court Justice in 1973 before even the US had one.

The fight about women’s right to vote was the onset of feminism in the Philippines. It took almost three decades for the Philippines women to win the right to vote.

Their struggle went on up to April 30, in 1937 where the women were finally allowed to vote and given the same right as men.

A Philippine feminist activist such as Pura Villanueva Kalaw even published a pamphlet called ” How the Filipina Got the Vote” summarizing the effort of woman’s group took to lobby for their rights.

The endorsement of women suffrage by 3 American governors-general helped women a lot in gaining their rights to votes. Throughout their struggle, women continue to organize and mobilize themselves in support of the Women’s Club of Manila in 1921.

In 1935 the Philippine constitution presented another challenge for women suffrage. The provision in the law stated that the right to suffrage should extend to women not less than 300,000 to vote affirmatively.

The women’s organization and lobby group did not bow down to the challenge. Instead, it pushed them to mobilize more women to register and turn up during voting in large numbers.

29% of women registered themselves, and 86% of them turned up to vote on April 30, 1937. This led to Filipino voting to 10 to 1 in the affirmative and winning the victory of suffrage which exceeds the constitutional quota. Therefore women got their votes.


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