TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- “You find your voice and you use it well; because when you are able to find your voice and you are able to speak what is in your mind and in your heart, that is when you become empowered.”
This is the message of Lawyer Girlie Mae Dabalos Cuntapay, an official of the Provincial Government of Cagayan on Women’s Rights, during the culminating week of Women’s Month this March in Pagdidinnamagan: Kapehan sa Kapitolyo.
She reminded women, especially of the youth, that having a voice in society is women empowerment.
The lawyer encouraged other women to participate and be proactive in the society.
“Kailangan tayong magparticipate, kailangan nating maging proactive. Doon pa lang, yung mga maliliit na bagay na yun, dun ma-eempower tayo kasi ang ibig sabihin ng women empowerment is to find that voice and let that voice be heard sa society,” Cuntapay said.
Cuntapay, who advocates women empowerment and gender sensitivity, focuses on making other women aware of their rights.
“One way of encouraging them is to tell them ngayon hindi na tayo sa generation na tingin lang sa babae ay magbibigay ng anak o mag-aalaga, or maglilinis ng bahay. We can go to each school and tell them their roles via gender talks. Programs and activities na kailangang idevelop na pambabae at panglalaki. Kasi kung hindi natin ipakita sa kanila na pantay naman ang babae at lalaki sa society ay hindi rin sila maeencourage,” she said.
As a lwayer, she also urges women to continue cases against their erring partners, noting that many cases on violence against women are “unfortunately” being dismissed either because the complainant is no longer interested on the case or the couple has already settled their differences.
“One reason kung bakit hindi rin tinutuloy ay dahil mas nangingibabaw yung love…to preserve the family, for the children,” she said.
“VAW cases should not be taken for granted and is non-negotiable. When a man starts to hurt you, kahit anong hingi ng pasensya, uulitin at uulitin niya yun…Ang karahasan ay hindi siya dapat ipinagbabalewala,” Cuntapay added.
Further, Cuntapay noted that there are some women who file cases only to give their partners a lesson but refuse to let their partners be jailed.
“Kung gusto mong tumigil yang ginagawa sayo, kailangan mong ituloy [yung kaso] kasi ang violence nag-eescalate yan. Puwedeng ngayon pitik lang, bukas sampal, pangatlo tulak sa hagdan. Baka sa pang-apat ililibing ka na,” she said.
The Provincial Legal Office (PLO), Cuntapay said, offers consultation and conducts seminars and workshops across the province.
Meanwhile, the lawyer reminded women that their success is attributed to their ability to succeed.
“We do not take for granted the role of men in our lives, but I think they are our inspiration but they are not the reason why we are successful because we make our own fate. Tayo ang mismong gagawa ng ikakatagumpay natin,” she said.
“Since we make change work for women – change andiyan siya, that’s the only constant in the world. But if you do not make change beneficial to you, walang kuwenta kahit ilang beses tayong magbago,” the lawyer said.
For Cuntapay, the essence of being a woman is “to bear a child, to be able to work, to be able to find your place in the community.” Northernforum.net