Ever since it began, the fight for women’s rights and equality has always been a case of “two steps forward, one step back”. We raise the right questions, yet we’re typically met with dissent—more often than not, by those that know nothing of our plight. We propose fair solutions, yet they fall on deaf ears, and on the worst of days, we’re talked over, shoved to the side and excluded from important conversations that concern us and our rights. But there is hope still, what with the road paved for us by fierce, fearless females of the past, that long-overdue seat at the table is so close, we can almost touch it.

So, put on your pink hats, ladies. We’re taking a trip down memory lane, and tracing our roots back to the women near or far who came and fought before us; the true feminists, their struggles and victories, so we can deservedly stand on their shoulders and continue the march on and upward, with nothing but hope, love and grit in our pockets for good measure.

The 1800s to The 1900s - The Battle They Couldn’t Win

We were led to believe that wars thrive on brawn and ammunition that we fully neglected the  contributions Filipino women made to the Philippine Revolution and the many wars that followed using the greatest of all weapons: a sharp wit paired with the fury of a woman scorned. Our founding mothers took their place at the frontlines to fight for our country, and if there should ever be an official idea attached to the term “Dalagang Pilipina”, the image that pops up in our heads should be the heroines themselves: Agueda Kahabagan, Melchora Aquino, Gregoria De Jesus, Trinidad Tecson, and many more that we should proudly know of.

The 1950s - The Seat They Couldn’t Take

Living in a time like the 50s meant that being a woman earned you no respect, nor privileges.  Even worse, being a “colored” woman in this era rendered you virtually non-existent. But Rosa Parks, best known as the “first lady of civil rights”, was not having it. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for a man, and this small yet significant act of resistance sparked an entire movement that rippled out and created bigger changes. Leave it to a strong, empowered woman who lived in the worst of times to teach us the true value of our actions regardless of how small and insignificant we feel them to be. 

The 1970s - The Ball They Couldn’t Hit

Ah, the 1970s: ABBA, thick-framed glassed, bright-colored eyeshadows, and also exhibition tennis matches between male and female tennis players dubbed as “Battle of the Sexes”. Most iconic of them all: the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs match. Billie Jean King took to the tennis court to prove that a woman’s place is everywhere and anywhere we please. In the legendary tournament against former tennis champion, Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King carried generations of women upon her shoulders and allowed them two steps forward by winning the match in three sets. Leading the world to take women in tennis and sports seriously like never before.

The 2000s to The 2010s - The Voices They Couldn’t Silence

From stories we heard through the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up, to challenges addressed by the Women’s March, to more concentrated issues such as the persecution of female journalists and the rampant domestic abuse in the home, now more than ever, our voices are louder. Our platform is high and wide, and we’re given the power to inspire real change. With more women coming forward with stories of abuse and inequalities coming to light, there truly is nowhere to go but up. Gone are the days when we have to sit and nod politely whilst holding back our truths. The women who came before us made sure that we had a space to claim and it is our responsibility to stake that claim with a passion that stems from decades of oppression, now being broken.

Today, we choose to celebrate Women’s Month by throwing caution to the wind. Where our liberty and rights are concerned, we have to be reckless in our push for change, just as our fierce female ancestors did before us. We are mothers, sisters, wives and daughters first, but we have to be heroines second. For ourselves, and for women around the world who need hands to hold, a history to be a part of and a future to look forward to.

Happy International Women’s Month, beautifuls!

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