How did we start?

Angat Bayi started in 2018. The first Angat Bayi Women’s Political Empowerment Program was envisioned to contribute to the elimination of barriers to women’s entry into politics and to help enable the full and meaningful political participation of women politicians already elected into office. The Program strives to help realize an imagined alternative political reality: first, by developing women leaders who actively promote a holistic social development agenda, and, second, by mobilizing volunteers focused on growing an electorate around a common set of values and principles that should become the basis for future voting behavior.

Through decades of advocacy, Filipino feminists and gender advocates have successfully pushed for reforms towards genuine women’s empowerment. Consequently, gender parity in voting has been achieved. However, the same cannot be said of the gender distribution among candidates running for office. The data shows that women constitute only a fifth of the candidates who run for elective posts. The political sphere continues to be male-dominated and women intending to enter this domain are more likely to be met with tougher obstacles. When women candidates win, they do so only after surmounting greater hurdles than do their male counterparts.

Certainly, two of the more crucial requirements for entry into politics are campaign funding and one’s electoral network. Candidates from long-time political families will always have an edge: being part of a political dynasty means ready access to funding, political capital, and an effective machinery that can easily clinch election victories. However, the so-called “benchwarmer” phenomenon is more common among elected women officials belonging to political dynasties. “Bench-warming” women are typically those whose husband, father, or brother have completed the maximum number of terms in office, and consequently, were tasked to hold the post for one term until the male relative is eligible to run again.

There are also socio-cultural barriers that make the road to political victory harder for women. Traditionally, leadership standards have very much favored masculine traits. Thus, women politicians are forced to adapt: constantly negotiating and carefully calibrating their public selves in order to be perceived as “strong”, “authoritative” and “decisive”, to name a few of the traditional masculine traits very much associated with being a good leader. Further, once elected, women officials’ political capital remains unstable, vulnerable to sexualized attacks that are only potent when hurled at women. 

The macho and vicious culture of politics also turns off many aspiring female politicians. Aside from building their confidence, capability, and viability as candidates, the women also need to develop the courage and strength to endure and fight against sexist attacks that are not normally directed at male candidates. But since society does not view women as leaders and politicians, opportunities to prepare them to be capable and effective leaders are scarce. Lastly, care work in families and households, which women are always expected to take on, result in multiple burdens which make it more difficult for them to commit to public service. Most often, women’s decision to enter politics comes later when they are no longer tied to child-rearing.

Who are we?

Angat Bayi is a program of the UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UP CWGS) and the Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc. (UP CWSFI) with the support of the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), and the Office of the Vice President’s Angat Buhay Program.

Meet our team

Aella Potestades

Collaborator | Researcher | Storyteller

Aya Tamayo

Listener | Systems | Designs | Jung Hae In’s Wife

Ilene De Jesus

Responsible | Funny | Smart

Maya Tamayo

Initiator | Connector | Enabler | Budol Queen

Natsy Africa-Verceles

Feminist | Teacher | Social Justice Advocate | Song Joong Ki Fan

Vince Hermoso

Creative | Charming | Compassion

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