Women as active leaders in politics

By the end of the period allotted for the filing of Certificates of Candidacies (COCs), what the Commission on Elections was holding for the people of Catanduanes was a mixed bag of incumbents, former incumbents and also-rans, and several neophytes with absolutely no experience in the dirty world of local politics.
In the provincial posts alone, 12 incumbents are running for either reelection or new posts, while eight others have held elective posts in the past.
Twelve are neophytes actually running for the first time, although three can be considered to have actual exposure to the political maneuverings in the island.
Despite the rising cost of election campaigns, with most of the funds going to vote-buying, the 340 candidates running in the 2022 polls represents an actual increase of 15 percent compared to the last elections where 295 showed up to file their COCs.
The same gender imbalance in 2019 is present today as only 52 or 53 of the aspirants are women, with the town of Bato having the distinction of an all-male line-up from mayor down to the municipal councilor aspirants.
A Gender and Development study conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) showed that there are slightly more female voters than men and that females who actually votes outnumbered their male counterparts by four (4%) percent, averaging over half of the total number of voters in the 2010, 2013 and 2016 elections.
These figures, however, are not carried over in terms of female candidates and elected officials.
According to the same COMELEC study, only 19.36 percent of the candidates for national and local positions in the 2016 elections were female, with an average of only 18.18% of female candidates winning elective positions from 1998 to 2016.
“If nothing is done to address this, it will take a long time to achieve the 50:50 ratio of male-female elected officials in the country,” it stated.
In another study on why women don’t run for public office, the COMELEC’s Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point System found that survey respondents cited the women’s capacity to serve in public office as a primary concern.
The respondents cited as reason for this perception their belief that women do not have the necessary confidence, skills, leadership experience and interest in political office.
They also identified as barriers to women’s active political participation the lack of support for female candidates, who do not have sufficient campaign funds, expansive political networks and support from political parties.
In some notable cases, however, there are exceptions.
There is Vice President Leni Robredo, who has shown that she can work on her own and deliver services to the people during the pandemic, despite receiving scant support from the male-dominated Malacanang.
The outpouring of support from all sectors for her candidacy for president, as the only woman among the row of male presidentiables aiming for the nation’s highest post, could rally uncommitted voters, particularly females, to finally elect one of their own to the Palace.
Should she win, Robredo would likely spearhead a renewed political activism among women, particularly in the villages and the municipalities.
There should be more women, not less, in elected posts as they are seen as less likely to be involved in shenanigans that their male counterparts are deep into once ensconced in their thrones.

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