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ELIZABETH ESGUERRA CASTILO

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 11/15/2015 |




SONGSOPTOK: What, in your experience, is the status of a girl child in the family? Is she treated in the same way as the male child? If not, what are the major differences in treatment?

ELIZABETH:  It used to be that sons are more favored than daughters during the olden times since it was believed that men are the ones carrying their family’s name and that they should be regarded highly. But these modern times, there had been a dramatic change in the status of female children and male children. Daughters are now not left out and are somewhat equally respected as the other family members.

In some cultures from the past and up until now, women and men are not treated equally for it’s instilled in their traditions and norms that women should just submit to their husbands being the highest authority in the family. They can’t voice out their views and they are just confined within the four corners of the household attending to their children and husbands’ needs.


SONGSOPTOK: Does the girl child have equal access to education in your country irrespective of economic or social status? What are the main factors that affect the equality or inequality of access to education?

ELIZABETH:  Yes, here in the Philippines, daughters enjoy an equal access to good education as long as their parents or guardians can afford to send them to school but they can also avail of some scholarships provided by the government and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Undoutedly, poverty is the main factor affecting the equal access to education. While those rich families can afford to send their children to exclusive and expensive private educational institutions with complete facilities, those poor families can’t readily let their sons and daughters enjoy good and quality education because of the high tuition fees and other factors, not unless the government assists them in getting free education.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that women, contrary to men, always have to make a choice between home life and professional career? Is it fair either on men or women? What is your personal experience?

ELIZABETH:  During these modern times, I believe women now have more liberty to decide on their own and can readily juggle between family life and their careers. We have heard about working mothers and there is a steady increase in percentage of these kinds of modern women who opted to continue with their occupations after getting married and even after having children for they would like to help providing financial support for their families. I believe gone were the days of the notion that men should only be the ones to earn a living for the family and that women should just remain at home and take care of their children and tend to their husbands’ needs. Any woman whether single or married is entitled to have a career as long she wants to. If ever she is married to a rather conservative husband who prefers for her to just stay at home and take care of their kids, that would depend on the agreement of the couple but these days since it’s quite difficult to rear children and give them their needs, as much as possible both husband and wife work. These days, there are now more open-minded men who believe that women can dominate even the corporate world and other endeavors which used to be predominantly occupied by men. Additionally, individuals both men and women do not just decide to build careers merely because of money or financial stature but also to feel they are valuable citizens who can contribute to the development of society.


SONGSOPTOK: Detailed studies have shown that there are very few women across the world who occupy really top positions both in the private and public sectors. How do you explain this fact? Do you think that women are less qualified to hold top jobs or are there other explanatory factors?

ELIZABETH:  Like what I answered in another interview for an international site for an international anthology feature in tribute to the legendary Phenomenal Woman, Dr. Maya Angelu, when I was asked: Do you think women have what it takes to positively impact the society?

I answered: I strongly believe that leaving a positive impact to society has nothing to do with one’s gender- it relies more on the personality and determination of the person to make an impact utilizing his/her talents and skills. Therefore, both men and women can have what it takes to positively make an impact to the society as a whole. Many years ago, women were just confined within their homes doing their daily chores as a wife and a mother, regarded as the “weaker sex” but these days, we can see how powerful women can influence a nation and even the world. You can see them in the corporate world, in politics, and in every field, leaving positive impact.


SONGSOPTOK: Even in the advance countries in the world, there is a large disparity between the number of men and women in political parties resulting in an under-representation of women in governments and elected councils. Do you agree with this point of view? What in your opinion are the main reasons?

ELIZABETH:  Yes, there are still more male-dominated political seats even in the more advanced and developed countries but times are changing and we can notice that more and more women are now occupying high positions in politics than before. With the rise of pro-women movements and a more open-minded society, women are now becoming more welcomed in any endeavor not just in politics alone. I believe it has nothing to do with one’s gender but how capable a person is. To say that only men can occupy higher political levels in the government because they are the “stronger sex” is irrationally being sexist and unfair or rather discriminating. Women with their “motherly instinct” can even provide a more tended and proper administration of the affairs of a country with her citizens being treated as her own “children.” And maybe the term “motherland” has something to do with this perspective, too. If a woman both has intelligence coupled with leadership skills and trustworthiness to head a nation,that would be a “fatal” and excellent characteristic of a good leader.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you think a larger participation and presence of women in all domains – economic, social and political- are actually required? Would it substantially improve the nature and quality of services and make the society a better place?

ELIZABETH:  For balance to exist among the economic, social, and political sectors, the presence of both men and women would truly be beneficial to society. We can hear the different opinions of both genders and not be limited just to follow one dominant party. Both sexes may have some differences as how to provide solutions and amendments about diverse issues but both can also offer substantial perspectives in order to promulgate these matters. The presence of both parties would definitely be vital in the improvement of the nature and quality of services, hence creating a better society for us to live in.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that for women the choice of a career and that of a family life with children should be mutually exclusive? Do you think that women who opt for both are not totally successful in either sphere? What is your own experience?

ELIZABETH:  Like I already mentioned on a previous interview question, I strongly believe that women should have the liberty to decide if she would continue having her career and at the same time being a good wife to her husband and a loving mother to her off springs.  Nowadays, quite a number of women are branded as “working moms”, juggling through family and careers and other personal areas of their lives and they are able to manage their affairs well. Rather than believing that these kinds of women are not totally successful in both spheres, we should agree with the notion that these modern women are to be considered as “Superwomen” of the world for it’s quite a feat to undertake. Women are good in multi-tasking as we already know so they should be praised and not branded as “failures” in different areas of their lives if they opted to continue working and at the same time attending to the needs of their families. Others may not have the choice so even though it’s against their will, they need to work along with their husbands while others enjoy what they do for themselves and for their families.


SONGSOPTOK: What is your opinion about the role played by the mother in bringing up children? Do you think that mothers should take more responsibility for the well-being of the children more than the father given that other than breast feeding, almost every other responsibility can be equally shared between the parents? Please explain your answer.

ELIZABETH: It is the obligation of both parents to see to it that they are able to provide properly for the well-being of their children, not just the mother alone. While the mother is the one who carried the child in her womb for nine months and there is a kind of bonding between her and her baby which cannot be denied, the father should also be responsible for raising up his child well during his formative years up until the child has grown up to stand on his own. The responsibilities of both the mother and the father is not strictly in the physical and financial arena, but as well as the emotional, psychological, mental, and spiritual development of their children and this cannot be provided by the mother alone although we are witnesses to the rising percentage of single mothers around us.


SONGSOPTOK: “Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn't worth ruling” said famous American writer Louisa M Alcott. Do you agree? What, in your perception, is the kingdom given to women?

ELIZABETH:  What I can perceive in Louisa M. Alcott’s quote about women being queens for a long time but the kingdom isn’t worth ruling is that yes, women are to be regarded as Queens of the household, that women should be brought to a pedestal but then the “kingdom” that the author might be referring to is the world which had somehow been unfair to women with all those controversial issues relating to discrimination, maltreatment, abuse of women physically, mentally, and verbally. Alcott might be comparing this kind of “kingdom” where in the Queen is not treated as a Queen as she is supposed to be.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you agree that professional women have to work at least twice as hard as men to attain credibility in her chosen career? What is your personal experience? Do you think that it is a rule rather than an exception? What in your opinion needs to be done to bring greater equality in the workplace?

ELIZABETH: I strongly disagree that professional women have to work double time in order to achieve credibility in their chosen field.  Time and again, powerful and influential women in history and in our society have proven that they can be intimidating, shying away men. When women are more accomplished in their careers, ego’s of men get stepped on leading to conflicts. The innate skills and talents of a person again have nothing to do whatsoever in his/her gender. Before, women used to shun away from the limelight and were afraid to compete with men in any field but these days, we can notice that women are more competitive and can do almost what men endeavors in whether in the corporate world, politics, entertainment, and other industries.

As a writer, I am truly aware of the fact that there are a lot of men and women writers across the globe that I get to connect with but I do not perceive them to be as my “competitors” but I rather “compete with myself” and I always believe that we must not really prove our worth to other people but to ourselves. If we tell ourselves that men are more effective writers, we can expect a condemnation or negative reaction from women writers and vise versa so in any endeavor, favoring someone because of his/her gender is rather unjust and unacceptable. We must focus on our personal goals rather than being part of any competition whether with the opposite sex or with the same sex.


ELIZABETH ESGUERRA CASTILLO 
PROFESSIONAL FEATURE WRITER.  CREATIVE WRITER.  JOURNALIST. BLOGGER.  INTERNATIONAL POET AND AUTHOR.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.


Aparajita Sen:
Editor, Songsoptok.)


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