ADVOCACIES in the Philippines, political or not, could be socially relevant if they are grounded on strong principles like nation-building and good values. However, the women group 1-Ako Babaeng Astig Aasenso has started this year with a very surprising advocacy— to push for expiration in marriage.

In an article published in Manila Bulletin, the group voiced out that their rationale in pushing for such a proposition is “to help women become economically empowered by helping them become entrepreneurs, giving them better employment, providing sources of livelihood, access to capital, and other ways to make women financially independent.”

The move garnered mixed reactions; some found the idea interesting, others thought it utterly disagreeable, while some even dismissed it as a joke. In my opinion, I think of the proposal as distressing. If such idea is allowed, it would only cause egotism, self-degradation, familial disunity, and even a high rate of sexually transmitted disease, among others.

Should marriage be considered as hindrance in every woman’s aspiration for economic empowerment? And more so, is economic empowerment more important than the aspiration to be an equal partner with a husband in the development of a family and the rearing of children?

The proposal speaks of impatience, carelessness, and the incapacity to resolve marital problems diligently, using economic goals as a scapegoat. Sadly, the group seems to be suffering from a very misguided notion of economic empowerment for women.

In a study done by the United Nations (UN) Population Fund in 2007, there are more important elements that must be first considered in the attainment of economic empowerment among women— the investments in general education and guidance on balancing family and work responsibilities. The group should understand very well that in pursuing economic empowerment, a great sense of investment in education must be attained, so it is not directly connected to whether a person is married or not. Instead of pushing for expiration in marriage, the group must consider the inefficiency and inaccessibility of education for women in the country as one of the main factors hindering their economic empowerment. Moreover, the UN stated that true economic empowerment signifies the ability of the woman to balance her family and work responsibilities. In doing so, it acknowledges marriage as an option most women in the world willingly choose, and that which goes hand in hand with work.

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Risk for a dream

For the Filipino women of today, are the principles of family values taking a backseat to personalism? And what about the children borne out of the family, what will happen to them should their parents choose not to renew their vows?

Definitely, the proposal provides nothing but an obliteration of good values – it racks of mediocrity in the intellectual, emotional, behavioral, and social levels. It is disguised as a pitch for economic empowerment in order to attract many supporters, but genuinely, it is anchored on shallow reflection on the part of these women.

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Congratulations to the Department of Humanities of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, the International Buddhist Progress Society (Manila Fo Guang Shan Temple) and the Buddha’s Light International Association (Manila, Greenhills, and Makati chapter), for successfully organizing the event, “Religion and Philosophy as a Way of Life in the 21st Century: An Inter-Faith, Inter-Philosophic Dialogue” at the Rizal Conference Hall last January 20.

Thank you to Arts and Letters Dean Michael Anthony Vasco, Ph.D., Fr. Nilo Lardizabal, O.P., Ven. Miao Zhe, Asst. Prof. Pablito Baybado, Jr., Ms. Antoinette Gorgonio, and Ven. Mioa Guang for gracing the event.

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