Women as a driving force of the modern world

For Sittie Haima Sultan, a social work educator, civic organization volunteer, and a Community Facilitator at Equal Access International (EAI) – Philippines from Marawi City, gender bias and stereotyping still remain as challenges among married women and mothers like her.

In her personal experience, she has worked with various women from different backgrounds. These women bring inspiring stories by standing as their family’s breadwinners due to circumstances. They are also mothers who strive to balance the role of providing for their families and taking care of the children. According to Sittie Haima, despite their hard work and dedication, these women are often subject to judgements based on cultural norms that dictate women should stay at home and solely tend to the family.

“Women or mothers are [played down] as heads of the families and their decisions are not recognized. These are some of the gender biases that remain as challenges in the communities I work with,” shared Sittie Haima.

Even in workplaces, men are often favored over women to complete certain tasks, something Haima personally experienced before. However, she strongly believes that her gender should not be a hindrance to excel in her work.

“Sometimes, when you are a married woman, you are restricted from proving your ability and not taken seriously in decision-making roles. As an empowered woman, my marital status and motherhood are not barriers to accomplish the things I want, but instead these inspired me to be more dedicated,” Sittie Haima expressed.

Although she recognizes her stand in the society and is away from the fear of being judged or discriminated against based on gender and cultural affiliation, there is still a living drawback that some women and girls are not as confident as her due to certain issues.

“It is the culture. We live in different cultures. The definition for gender equality varies so it can be a barrier to gender equality. People have different upbringings. To some, such practices or beliefs may be acceptable, while to others, these are not,” shared Sittie Haima when asked on what could be the reason behind this harsh reality.

Despite this, she believes that people can change when they are aware and informed, “It matters on education. It is about how we make them understand what gender equality means, because lack of education can also be a barrier.”

As a Community Facilitator of the Listening and Discussion Action Group (LDAG) sessions organized by EAI Philippines, Sittie Haima takes pride in helping educate her fellow women and the people in her community about relevant issues, most especially on what gender equality really means. 

She believes that with adequate education on gender equality, the society will have more empowered women and girls, “No women will be abused in any way because they are empowered. They know how to speak and walk their thoughts, they will also be part of the development plans of the society by recognizing their worth and participation. No injustices will occur in our society.”

When asked what it means for her to be a woman in the modern world, Sittie Haima says, “Women are the driving force in the world. We help build a bright future by empowering ourselves and our children for a safe and progressive future that lies in our hands.”

Written by Jam Emano, EAI PH Staff Intern

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