Gender advocates gathered in May 25's Kwentong Kabaro to discuss the women’s role during elections.

Posted on May 25, 2019

By Marj Ibanez

May 25, Quezon City - There is a need to conduct more evidence-based studies to support the notion that there is a “women’s vote” and that it plays a crucial role in ensuring a candidate’s political victory, a political analyst said.

Dr. Socorro Reyes, also a convenor of the feminist group Every Woman, stressed that it can be difficult to advocate for women’s votes if there are no studies and evidence to support it.

We have to do our research kung paano bumoto ang mga babae bumoto para ma-prove natin that women can make or unmake candidates. Kasi unless ma-prove iyon, ang mga kandidato, hindi mare-recognize ang pwersa ng kababaihan (We have to do our research on how women vote so we can prove that women can make or unmake candidates. Unless we can prove that, candidates won’t recognize the power of women.),” Reyes said during the third installation of INCITEGov’s Kwentong Kabaro on May 25.

The event, “Mga Kabaro, Saan ka nung Eleksyon? Paano na tayo ngayon?”, focused on the role of women in the 2019 midterm elections and identified the action steps that can be undertaken based on the turnout.

Reyes facilitated a holistic analysis of the elections from a gender perspective through the “4Ps framework” composed of players, process, product/results, and policy outcomes.

“Ang lakas talaga ng pwersa natin (“We are a force to be reckoned with),” she said of the female voters, citing that 51.45 percent of all registered voters in the last election are women.

She also observed that women’s representation continues to be minimal even in the government. She noted that women only vied for 20 percent of the 18,000 available positions at the national and local level.  Still, fewer have won and secured their positions in the government. 

Reyes added that electoral redesign is necessary to make the current system more inclusive and participative for women. She advocated for a closed list proportional representation system with multi-member districts and high party threshold.

The proposed setup will allow each party to come up with a closed list of candidates that is fixed and can no longer be changed. It will also require the creation of bigger districts for bigger voting populations.

The people will then be asked to vote for parties instead of individuals. The percentage of votes garnered by a particular party will determine the number of seats will be given to them.

Such setup will allow political parties to strengthen their platforms instead of playing personality politics. Also called the zipper system, men and women will be alternating in the parties’ lists to ensure that more women will be elected in positions of power.

Meanwhile, the participants-- composed mostly of women who participated in the campaign of local and national candidates-- expressed their optimism and willingness to join in upcoming campaigns despite their outrage in the results of the midterm elections. To do so, they have proposed the following steps:

  • Translate the youth population into votes by holding pre-voter registration sessions explaining the voting process and the requirements needed for registration;
  • Go to communities and organize sectors in order to sustain their support;
  • Pivot campaign strategies toward what is more appealing to the voting population;
  • Develop and field candidates within their groups at the local level;
  • Start campaign efforts and fund sourcing earlier so that there will be ample time to prepare; and
  • Find data from election efforts and utilize the information in the next campaign. 


Furthermore, they also shared some of their experiences while campaigning on the ground.

“Pagdating ng eleksyon, lalapit sa’kin ang mga katoto ko sa komunidad. Sasabihin sa’kin, ‘I’m sorry, pumanhin na. Tinanggap ko yung limang daan kahapon. Paumanhin kaya lang kailangan talaga namin ng bigas.’ (Once elections roll around, my brother and sisters from the communities will approach me and say, ‘I’m sorry. I accepted five hundred (pesos) yesterday. Sorry, but we really need to buy rice.’)” Mina Tenorio from Likhaan Women’s Health Center said.

She also expressed that there has always been impunity but the main difference is that now, it’s all out in the open. She stressed, however, that the public must not lose hope and continue to do even the small things that can influence change.

Juana Caumeran, a student volunteer for senatorial candidate Chel Diokno, shared that there were people asking them for food or any kind of help as they were going around communities. There were also those who gave positive feedback on Diokno and are even the ones to approach them and say they were impressed with what they heard him say on television.

Marlene dela Cruz from KAMALAYAN remains hopeful for the country’s electoral landscape, citing the case of a political family in Quezon who has held various government positions for more than 20 years but suffered a loss during the recent election. “Siguro nga po’y dapat hindi rin tayo mawalan ng pag-asa. Kailangan talaga’y paintindihin sa mga tao nung sitwasyon. Isa ako sa mga nagsasabi sa kanila na, ‘Kapag pinanalo na naman natin ang Suarez, sama-sama na naman tayo sa kahirapan.’ (We shouldn’t lose hope. We have to let people know of our situation. I’ve told others that, ‘If we let the Suarez’ win yet again, we will all remain in poverty.’)’’

INCITEGov launched Kwentong Kabaro as a series of conversations focused on women’s issues and behind-the-scenes views of milestone moments in the women’s movement. Present in the session were representatives from different groups such as Pilipina, PPVR, Pandayan, NTHK, MULI, Akbayan Women, and Likhaan Women’s Health Center.

As INCITEGov chairperson Teresita Quintos-Deles previously said: “Naniniwala tayo sa power of kwento para sa mga kababihan, para sa mga kabaro. Kwento para sa pagpapalinaw ng ating kalagayan. Kwento sa pagsuri ng mga isyung hinaharap natin. Kwentong nagpapatibay ng sisterhood, at ating pagiging magkabaro. (We believe in the power stories have on women. Stories that give clarity to our conditions. Stories that analyze the issues we face. Stories that strengthen our bond as sisters - as kabaros.)”


Written by Pauline Fernandez