In the last two decades, progressive movements have sprung involving ordinary people, aiming to address and eradicate gender discrimination, violence against women and children, gender equality, and the like. This was made possible through Executive Order No. 273, s. 1995 which mandated the institutionalization of Gender and Development (GAD) Committees or agendas within local government units and government offices. By virtue of Memorandum CAS-12-009 by then Chancellor Ceasar Saloma, the University Library established the Gender and Development Committee in 2012 to promulgate and ensure gender sensitivity among its staff. The Committee oversees GAD-related activities through seminar-workshops and lectures that tackle issues, including but not limited to gender sensitivity and women empowerment, among others. Through the help and guidance of the Diliman Gender Office, the University Library continues to pursue GAD work and engage others to do the same.
Held during the second week of February, the annual One Billion Rising, which the Gabriela Youth and Diliman Gender Office spearhead, saw the participation of various GAD Committees from the academic and administrative units of the University. The One Billion Rising campaign is the most significant mass action worldwide to end violence against women (cisgender, transgender, and gender-fluid). The campaign launched on Valentine’s Day 2012 began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than One Billion women and girls.
This year’s theme campaigns for both women and our planet, recognizing that the two are the least protected and most violated under the oppressive systems of capitalism, fascism, and patriarchy, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gardens represent our connection to the Earth and each other and our cultivation of our basic needs and our community. To maintain a garden is to resist the environmental, social, and spiritual collapse brought about by oppressive systems; to rise is to take up the responsibility to protect and uplift the Earth, which is essential to all life.
As an active GAD Focal Point System in the U.P. Community, the University Library’s GAD Committee holds this annual event in high regard and with great anticipation. To know more about the Committee’s contribution to this year’s One Billion Rising, we asked one of its members, Ms. Allyssa Feb Valdehueza of the U.P. Integrated School Library. “We have been invited by the Diliman Gender Office together with the Gabriela Youth to partner with them for this year’s One Billion Rising Campaign. We actively joined the preparatory meetings on the plotting of activities. As for the contribution of the ULGADC, we decided to create a video presentation featuring the plantitas of the library and one other government employee entitled “Women Bloom, Women Grow, Women Thrive” to show how women, especially in the time of the pandemic, are empowered through ornamental and sustainable planting. This is in line with this year’s OBR theme, “Rising Gardens, Growing Resistance.” I, as the ULGADC representative, participated in the on-ground protest Feb 14 held at the amphitheater. On Feb 15, the committee members joined the online protest and participated in the “Sayaw ng Paghihimagsik,” she narrated.
Given that gender sensitivity programs are among the most useful tools to create awareness
among a community, we asked her if these activities are still relevant during quarantine when
there are no physical classes, and workplace arrangements are limited. In her opinion, “It
certainly is. Sexual harassment is not limited to physical contact. Anyone could still be harassed
online through their social media platforms, whether private or wide-open through their public
profile. So yes, GSP is still relevant during these times.”
Lastly, looking forward to the future, we asked if the GAD Committee has any programs or
activities in line for the University Library this year. “During the start of the year, we planned
out a few. But as for now, as a celebration for women’s month, we have an upcoming activity
entitled “Kwentong Lockdown ng Kababaihan: a storytelling for Children” on March 26, 2021,
9:00-11:00. Other programs will still be planned in the coming months, and we will keep
everyone posted through our Facebook page, she said.”
In retrospect, the One Billion Rising movement indicates a constant need to inform people to
eliminate inequality, abuse, and discrimination. Although there is still a long way to go, it is
essential to acknowledge that no effort is too little because when women join forces, surely a
more progressive and safe U.P. is within reach. As we are unyielding during these challenging
times, may we also be unyielding in standing up for equality and respect.