Feminist Movement in the Philippines

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The Feminist Movement in the Philippines has gained strength and diversity by protesting against martial law, protesting gender-based segregation of work in export processing zones, exposing issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence, resisting the subordination of women's issues to national liberation, forming a feminist political party and other feminist groups, campaigning for women's reproductive rights, and advocating closure of US military bases in the country.

The year 2005 is the Centennial Year of the Feminist Movement in the Philippines, as declared by Proclamation No. 622 signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on April 29, 2004.

This year’s celebration banners the theme: “Celebrating the past, inspiring the future” which is emblazoned in every feminist’s heart. The event is a celebration of the Filipina's historical achievements in various fields and sectors, and the contributions of the feminist movement in nation-building. It has the goal of recreating and rekindling a passionate love of our country, our people, and our culture by remembering and recognizing the vital role of Filipino women in history, and by reclaiming for the future our pride in women’s courage and creativity.



The Filipino women were always at the forefront of society long before the Spaniards arrived in 1565. Women were able to enjoy position in the society. Customary laws bestowed upon them equal rights with men, to own and inherit property and to engage in business. They were also allowed to join politics - they could succeed to the royalty leadership in the absence of a male heir. Gender inequality came centuries later. The first Women's Masonic Lodge was founded in 1883 by Rosario Villaruel, Trinidad and Josefa Rizal, Marina Dizon and Romualda Lanuza. In 1898, women were allowed to go to school. Then, from 1565 to 1898, women were literally kept at home and were not allowed to go to school. They were treated as household caretakers and their main role was to cook, clean, wash clothes and deliver babies.

On June 1905, the first women's organization that was established is the Asociacion Feminista Filipina. Its aim is to propose prison reforms especially on behalf of women and minors; make visits to shops and factories employing men and women with a view to recommending labor reforms; work for educational reforms through lectures and conferences for women; encourage drives against prostitution, gambling and drinking; conduct religious and moral campaigns in schools, factories, etc.; establish receational facilities, persuade the government to appoint women to municipal and provincial boards of education and to create committees to inspect municipalites.

In 1907, they joined the men to form La Proteccion de la Infancia, the first puericulture center in the Philippines. In 1912, the Society for the Advancement of Women was organized by two foreigners - Carrie Chapman Catt and Aleta Jacobs. This society was later renamed Women's Club of Manila and still much later, to Manila Women's Club, which was the most active club during this period.

The women has achieved remarkable accomplishments thus, more women's clubs were organized in the provinces and decided to unite themselves. And so the National Federation of Women's Clubs of the Philippines was born February 5, 1921 at the Manila Hotel.


  • Camacho, Leonarda. 100 Centennial Celebration - Feminist Movement in the Philippines 1905- 2005. Quezon City: Vibal Publishing House, Inc., 2005. (accessed on March 3, 2008)
  • Pinay Mangatkatay (accessed on March 3, 2008)
  • Press52 (accessed on March 3, 2008)

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