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Diverse Views on Education

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Good education is one of the most high regarded value here in the Philippines. Regardless of gender, we are all given equal opportunity to grow as successful and competent people. The difference lies on the values upheld by each community. As small as our country is, we are composed of different regions and islands. These differences are further influenced by different beliefs and ethnic origin. What is valued for us as urban Catholic girls are different from our counterparts in the rural areas with different religious and cultural beliefs.

Here, it is stereotyped that women must have the great home and livelihood skills regardless where you are settled. We are sent to school and is encouraged to finish college, however, we were given the idea that since we are to be future mothers, we have to be excellent homemakers and if our future partner’s income isn’t enough for the family, we have to think of creative ways to earn a living to help our family.

Cultural traditions and beliefs are so different from region to region, minority groups and religion. We believe that man should be the great family provider. Women should only work when they want to be successful. We do not look down upon full-time mothers; in fact we envy them because as mothers we feel we have to rear our children ourselves.

The negative side of that is, since we have a patriarchal culture, some men think that since they are the head of the family, their decisions prevail. The whole family’s fate depends on the decision made by the father. In some rural communities, because of poverty, girls stay home and be taught and do house work while boys go to school. If they are fortunate enough to be sent to school up to college, they are even encourage to take stereotyped “women” courses like education, nursing and culinary courses. These courses are suggested to them so can go abroad and work to send money to their families. In other cases, if men in the rural areas can’t provide well for their families, the girls or women are sent to the city to become domestic helpers. In some cases, they would be encouraged to marry off a boy from a well-to-do. Once this happens, in some instances, the family of the girl would feel privilege and expect the girl and her newly found husband to help her family or sometimes worse, support them. They are even accused of being ingrates if they are not able to help them.

In the cities, however, it is the exact opposite. More women are driven to be independent and become the women they want to be. They know their rights and they have great ambition for themselves. If rural, counterparts and settled to finish elementary or high school because of poverty, urban girls would do anything to finish their education. Some go to school in the morning and works at night time in fast food chains and call-centers. They even plan to take post-graduate courses because they want to become a successful executive in a prestigious company. In spite of these goals, women still give high regard to becoming good mothers to their children.

What ambition city girls have is very much looked upon as aggressiveness by non-city folks. The lack of respect to one’s aspirations are brought to the city, thus, influencing so many others making them feel satisfied where they are. This belief and lack of interest makes them more vulnerable to injustice On the other hand, when they become driven, they are told that they are "too ambitious for a woman."

There is a great disparity between our city girls and rural girls and this should stop. Equal rights to educational opportunities should be given. Girls should be appropriately equipped with skills in relation to their goals in life. If they don't intend to go to college, they should be given technical courses which are very vital in the rural communities. This should be done to maximize their potential and become successful where they want to go.

As for me, I am fortunate that I was given an opportunity to get good education and become successful in my chosen field. My parents valued education specially for us girls. For them, us women should be educated well enough to become self-reliant, help the community and prosper in our chosen field.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Ruth Bech's picture

Recommended!

Your story here tells about a social mechanism not only true to the Philippines, but to all patriarchal societies. The reaction to the educated and strong willed female is well known, but still unacceptable. Your ideas on solving the inequalities between rural and urban areas are good, down-to-earth and bargain for a solid foundation of change. You have nailed it, I wish you would take upon you to go into politics, because your ideas and your understanding of different mindsets are without the prejudice you are opposing. I would route for you all the way!

Much love
Ruth

Caryn Dudarevitch's picture

Great insight into your

Great insight into your society!
Much love!
- Caryn

I like your family's vision that "women should be educated well enough to become self-reliant, help the community and prosper in our chosen field." Wouldn't it be wonderful if that we true in every community?
You've provided and interesting breakdown of values across your country. I have a feeling that your contrast of urban and rural attitudes might be true for many other parts of the world, too.
Thank you for your piece.

Catsilveira's picture

how to we move forward?

Thank you for sharing your reflections on your culture!
Like others have said, your description of patriarchal system and its impacts on woman/girls seem to happen in many countries in the world. You wrote: “since we have a patriarchal culture, some men think that since they are the head of the family, their decisions prevail.”

Although we came a long way, Brazil is still a very machista (patriarchal society) – from men not helping with house chores to them getting bigger salaries than women on same job. It saddens me when I see women that are strong and educated – and with financial independence – who would still put up with men who behave like they are greater than them.

How do we move from that? “Rights to educational opportunities should be given” you wrote. I agree nevertheless there is some much left to be done for us to break free from stereotypes of what man and woman are able and here on earth to do.

Keep writing so I can keep reading. :0)

Cheers,

Catarina

kati.mayfield's picture

Torn

Dear Jeanne,
You do a beautiful job synthesizing this complicated topic. It is interesting for me to learn that the US and the Philippines are so similar in this characteristic, that women find themselves torn between our duty to fulfill what society expects of us (to keep house, to mother and to be a good wife) and to fulfill what we expect of ourselves (to seek, to be ambitious and to be successful). How can we sew these pieces together?
Thank you for this compelling journal entry!
Sincerely,
Kati

*resolved this year to think twice and to smile twice before doing anything*

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