Women of the Philippines fighting to get their rights respected

​​​​​​​Mary Joan Guan talked to ANF about the women's struggle in her country and the need to build a women network.

Mary Joan Guan comes from the Philippines. She is the executive director of the Center for Women Resources (CRW), a research and training organisation affiliated to the nationwide women organisation GABRIELA.

She has more than two decades of experience in advocating for human rights, in conducting research and education on issues concerning women, children and other socio-political matters. As a Filipino woman activist, her mantra is to serve people. She believes that the empowerment of women could be best achieved by consolidating the ranks of working class women, uniting with the rest of the masses and working for international solidarity.

ANF talked to Mary Joan Guan who would be speaking at today’s third session of the Frankfurt International Women Conference.

You have been working for years trying to unite women.

Yes, GABRIELA is the result of this attempt to build an alliance among different women organisation in the Philippines. We are trying to build a broad alliance and trying to reach out to women in different countries as well.

How is your relation with the Kurdish women movement?

We admire Kurdish women a lot. We believe they have shown courage and solidarity in their standing for human rights. In fact, I think they are an example for all women working in the field of human rights recognition.

How would you summarize the main problems in the Philippines?

I would say the main problem is the president of the country, Rodrigo Duterte. Because he is actually waging 4 wars in our country: the 1st is against poor people, although he calls it ‘the war against drugs’ but the victims of this war are poor people; the 2nd is what he calls ‘war against terrorism’ which in fact is a war against the people of Mindanao, and especially Muslim people there. The 3rd is the war against human rights activists. We already had many rights defenders killed and wounded, and the president has campaigned to restore the death penalty. The 4th war is that against women which is evident not only in the policies pursued by the president but also in his sexist and chauvinist remarks.