March marks the celebration of Women’s Month. Although we have been celebrating it for a long time now, the fight for women’s rights and gender equality continues.
In the Women’s Leadership Summit hosted by Bookshelf PH last March 26, 2022, a mother, activist, leader Senator Risa Hontiveros, with book editor and author Katya Lichuaco, discussed Sen. Risa’s first book, ‘Healthy Buhay, Happy Mama: Risa Hontiveros’ Journey Through Motherhood’, and the most pressing issues facing women in 2022 and beyond.
On Writing Her First Book
Sen. Risa reveals how she always loves reading ever since she was young. Books that were written by women about their own lives really spoke to her from a young age and inspired her to try and tick off ‘writing (a book)’ from her bucket list.
The most important for her is to share her experiences as a mother who works inside the home and also works outside the home as a lifelong activist, and now as a legislator.
“…at dahil I’m speaking from that experience, I guess one of the most important lessons and therefore messages I wanted to share with other women and other moms, is that…wala talagang cookie cutter template about how to be a mom, a mom who’s also working outside the home. We sort of have to find our own ways of being and doing that,” Sen. Risa said.
For her, even if it is just one experience, she hopes that sharing her story will encourage other mothers, that they can find their way and leave an impact through their experiences. She mentioned how the stories of other women helped her so much until now, so sharing is like paying forward.
The toughest part of writing her book?
“I guess the toughest things to write about are also the experiences which were toughest to live through, to go through,” said Sen. Risa.
On Being a Working Mom
It is not an easy one for Sen. Risa and family as she entered the campaign season.
As for her, even quality time needs quantity. Parents need and have to fight for as much time as they can to have that quality time with their kids and family members. Happily, her children also help and speak in various press conferences featuring topics like mental health. Being with her kids during campaigns is also a bonding time for them.
Building Strong Diverse Network Among Women
For Sen. Risa, like building any strong network, building strong networks among women requires nurture and care. Befriend, support, defend and mentor each other. Remain open if we want to build diverse networks.
On Handling The Increasing Attacks on Female Leaders and Journalists
Despite the celebration of Women’s Month, we cannot deny the increasing attacks on female leaders, journalists, wherein some are getting personal, especially now that it is campaign season. I grabbed the opportunity to ask Sen. Risa on how she handles it as a mom, a leader, and a public official.
She mentioned how she learned a lot from Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Leila de Lima, Maria Ressa, and many other kabaro who are in similar situations everyday, not just during political season, but also very strong and rampant during the campaign.
“You just have to push back, really say…through the words, facial expressions, our body language and actions. I think it’s simply not okay, lalo na kapag wine-weaponize yung mga channels na dapat para sa matinong diskurso, whether the channel’s through political contest or mass media or social media and then our everyday spaces: homes, school, workplace, all our social institutions.”
She mentioned how is it been going on since the dawn of time in various forms.
“Lumalaban tayong mga babae, all our mothers before us, and may mga tagumpay, marami ding nilunok na pagkatalo, so we have to keep on fighting in various forms. The issues maybe articulated in different forms every generation, pero yung binhi no’n yun pa rin, yung pagtingin na hindi tayo pantay. Katulad ng pagtingin na ang LGBTQIA+ ay hindi pantay sa mga cisgender, heterosexual. Yung pagtingin na tayong mga babae o ang LGBTQIA+ ay dapat kamuhian,” said Sen. Risa.
She stated it is not only in our culture but also manifested in our economics, so we are actually living, surviving, coping and fighting all forms. Women are fighting for something better every moment.
“I think it’s a natural condition of being a woman that we want more, we’ve been gaining more… I really dream of a time na we don’t have to fight anymore because it should come naturally…” Sen. Risa stated.
The fight and struggle is far from over, but with leaders who champion women’s rights and gender equality, and with the significant contribution of our generation, there’s a hope for our calls and actions.
About the Book
Healthy Buhay, Happy Mama: Risa Hontiveros’ Journey Through Motherhood
In Healthy Buhay, Happy Mama: Risa Hontiveros’ journey through motherhood, Senator Risa Hontiveros shares the story of how she succeeded in balancing both, pursuing her work in national politics while raising each of her four children.
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