June 17, 2024

The Insider News

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Rep. Camille to women soldiers: Continue the fight for gender equality

Women Warriors: Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar joined the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army during the opening ceremony of its National Women’s Month Celebration last March 14 at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal . The House Deputy Speaker addressed the women Jungle Fighters and shared boodle fight lunch with the division’s officers and members. She also planted a Rambutan tree, which was marked under her name. With her is Division Commander Maj. Gen. Roberto S. Capulong.

HOUSE Deputy Speaker Camille Villar of Las Piñas has cited the role that women soldiers play in the military in guarding the peace and democracy in the country amid continuing challenges on gender equality. 

Villar, in her speech during the opening ceremony of the National Women’s Month Celebration of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, noted how women soldiers had to work extra double to prove that “they are capable of standing and fighting side by side with men.”

“What makes the achievements of women soldiers more impressive is the pressure they experience as they are immersed in the Armed Forces which has been considered for a long time as an only-male profession. It is not just about individual accomplishments but a reflection on the capabilities of women as a sector,” the lawmaker from Las Piñas City said. 

“I hope that as you embark on the activities you have organized for this year’s women’s month, you find the time and resources to pay it forward by encouraging girls to follow your path, guiding other women who are afraid and who face uncertainties, to shatter their own ceilings… This is your challenge. This is your vocation as women warriors. To continue the fight for gender equality,” Villar said. 

Women were first admitted to the AFP when Republic Act 3835 was enacted in 1963, but their role was limited to non-combat and administrative duties. In 1993, Congress passed RA 7192 which allowed women to become trained combat soldiers in the military.  

Villar said the contribution of women soldiers are not only limited to combat duties.  

“Aside from combat duties, women have been invaluable in the security and development sector as well as in peace building activities of the government. They have contributed in making government policies more responsive to issues and concerns of women, thereby strengthening the role of women in nation-building,” she said.

She likewise underscored the “expanding” role of women in politics, business, and in other male-dominated sectors. 

“Women have made inroads despite the odds,” Villar said, as she  recalled how she had to break barriers and “overcome many challenges, including the fact that I was entering a world dominated by men” when she first started out in the business sector. 

“I remember when I first entered the boardroom for a meeting with our corporate officers, I felt the doubts from almost every senior officers in the room who probably thought that I — a young and inexperienced woman — does not possess what is necessary to run a big business. But I was never rattled. Instead it gave me the motivation to do my best and prove them wrong. I told myself, never let anyone turn your sky into a ceiling. And even if you see a ceiling, shatter it,” she said.

“I am certain that what you faced when you first entered the military was far more substantial,” she told the country’s women “Jungle Fighters.” 

Likewise, Villar lauded the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Roberto S. Capulong for recognizing the vital role of Filipino women in the military and in our nation. 

“The 2nd Infantry Division, of course, has been the bulwark of our nation’s defenses against the enemies of freedom… The Philippine Army should also be proud of the fact that it is at the forefront of women empowerment and inclusivity,” she said. 

As of 2020, the Army has six female officers assigned as battalion commanders, 795 female officers, and 3,777 women-soldiers.