A woman makes her way through the busy evening streets of London, heading home. She is dressed in a bright green coat and patterned pants. She sticks to brightly lit public streets and parks. She calls her boyfriend as she walks.
Five days later, a man is arrested. He is an active police officer. He serves to protect. The remains of a young woman have been found.
The recent uproar surrounding the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard have resurfaced questions concerning the safety of women and their ability to trust in institutions, namely the police, to protect them. Sarah did everything women are told to do to keep safe; however this attack is yet another reminder that no matter how safe women try to be, women are always at the mercy of potential male brutality in our society. This brings about notions reminiscent of the #MeToo movement that demands answers to the question; why do we prioritize training women to behave in a ‘safe’ way to evade attack over facing the issue of male violence against women?
To bring awareness to instances like Sarah’s, and the causes and factors that allow horrors like this to unfold, ISM’s Sustainability Council plans to host a women’s rights webinar with Filipino artist and activist, Frankie Pangilinan. I sat down with Sustainability Council’s events team member, Amadine (G9), to discuss the purpose and hopes behind the webinar hosted this Wednesday, 24 March during lunch.
Why did you choose Frankie to represent this SDG?
Frankie is the perfect fit to represent SDG #5: Gender Equality since she’s been an amazing advocate for social issues via social media, and has joined many in using their platforms to incite change. Her activism via social media has even resulted in the trending of the #HijaAko movement, which has stimulated controversy and discussion on deep-rooted taboos that must be talked about. Hija Ako, directly translated to I Am A Daughter, is the hashtag that supporters used to back Frankie when she condemned TV Host Ben Tulfo after comments he made about women’s clothing perpetuating rape culture. With this, she has created an open conversation for adults and teens alike, making her a great speaker for these issues and an inspiring role model.
How well do you think ISM addresses this issue?
I’ve noticed that in ISM, conversations of rape culture and sexual abuse are not part of the everyday discourse and so may seem to be taboo. Due to its sensitivity, of course, it’s important to address this in the right manner; however in light of other issues, it has seemed to be overshadowed by other problems and should definitely have more of a presence here in our school. Fortunately, following the horrible events regarding Sarah Everard, people are slowly starting to speak up for this issue especially on social media.
What do you hope to achieve by hosting the webinar?
I hope to make the issues Frankie is speaking about have more of a presence in our ISM community so people are aware of its detrimental effects and how society seems to perpetuate rape culture. This will definitely be an eye-opening experience for us all.
Why have you chosen to branch out from sustainability-themed subjects with this webinar on gender equality? Is this because of Women’s History Month?
During the Sustainability Summit, our theme was to garner change online – with this we branched out to different topics on all points of the sustainability compass: nature, economy, society, and wellbeing. Following this idea, the SDG for this month: Gender Equality focuses on both a social and environmental lens, so we decided to shift greater focus to the social component of Gender Equality. Coincidentally, it is also Women’s History Month, which will make this webinar more impactful since it focuses on important topics that greatly relate to women’s history month.
What are you most excited about for this webinar?
I’m most excited for students in our community to become more informed about this persistent issue of rape culture, as it is a real thing in Manila and a very very large problem. I’m also very excited to hear Frankie’s input and what she has to say.
Amadine’s responses are a real insight into what individuals and student-led organizations within ISM are doing to enact positive change on a school-wide and national scale. While the statistics and stories surrounding rape culture and male violence are horrific, the fact that many, like Frankie, are challenging suppressive rhetoric and trying to create a shift in the paradigm that perpetuates and normalises these situations is uplifting. It is everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves on this issue and learn what role they can play within the larger fight against gender based violence. We are looking forward to this webinar, and to seeing everyone come together to stand in solidarity, united against this persisting issue. We hope to see you there on March 24 from 11:40 to 12:10pm!