#2030Now: #RespetoNaman campaign hopes to shine a light on gender-based violence
MANILA, Philippines – While the Philippines leads other countries in the region in terms of gender equality, much more needs to be done to educate all Filipinos on the issue of gender-based violence.
SPARK! Program Manager Kassandra Barnes touched on gender equality in the country as she discussed her organization's 10-month-old Respeto Naman campaign at the Social Good Summit on September 21.
"I really believe that gender equality isn't just an issue that should concern women. It's an issue that should concern everyone. And I believe that working towards a more equal world should involve everyone – men, women, everyone, LGBTQ community," she said.
Barnes said that when they started #RespetoNaman, they only thought of doing a one-day forum, but as the project developed and with more situations arising, they felt they needed to do more.
"As we went through the planning process and development of the project, it became apparent that the issue of gender-based violence in the Philippines is so much bigger than we realized," she said.
"Sure we have statistics that say that 1 in 3 women would have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifestime, but these statistics are limited because they are reported cases," Barnes added.
Barnes said that there were still women who refuse to report incidents of violence against them because of the stigma. This, she said, is the reason why the organization wants to continue the campaign, which will mark its first year in November.
Since its launch last year, they brought the #RespetoNaman campaign and the Don't Tell Me How to Dress exhibit, a program started by Thai model and Asia's Next Top Model host Cindy Bishop in parts of the Philippines including Metro Manila, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro. More tours are scheduled.
Barnes said that it's about time that all people are educated on preventing domestic violence.
"We think that it's about time. It's time to take a stands on ending victim blaming, and call respect for women not only because of what they wear or how they act but because they are being human beings. We think it's time for the Philippines to say #MeToo and we say, respeto naman (respect please)."
Speaking to Rappler after the summit, Barnes said that they were planning more initiatives to sustain the campaign as its first year anniversary drew near.
With government leaders who seemed to have forgotten how to respect women, how can the campaign be put in practice? Barnes said one way, which SPARK! has been doing, is engaging local governments and their leaders to support the campaign.
"Whenever we go to any place, we always try to engage the local government and we try to find out what they are doing.... So far in all places that we've been to, the local government has been supportive. But of course, it's difficult, like expressing support and actually doing things are two different things especially with the bureaucracy of government, and the difficulties they face with their limited resources, limited capacities," she said.
Barnes added that the campaign is called "Respeto Naman" which applies to all people, regardless of gender.
"This campaign is not just about women.... It's about the entire nation. It's about calling for respect in so many different ways. Sexual harassment and assault is just one of the many things we want to talk about," she said. —Rappler.com