The Filipina who lifted women & girls

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Filipina Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal finish is definitely a “herstoric” feat for various reasons. Women have been fighting for equality all throughout history.

Back in the day, women were once not even permitted to watch the Olympic Games. After finally being permitted to participate in sports, women had to undergo gender testing to make sure they were not men trying to cheat the system. Layers of barriers that took years to overturn.

Two years before winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on July 26, Diaz was mocked and threatened online after her name was included in the list of people alleged to be plotting to oust President Duterte. She was maliciously tagged in the ouster plot after she voiced the extreme lack of support for athletes in the Philippines.

The universe has a funny way of getting back as Diaz’s win overshadowed the final annual national address of the 76-year-old Duterte, whose term ends next year.

What Diaz has undergone symbolizes several barriers or experiences many Filipinas face. In sports and in other fields, women’s game isn’t as popular as its male counterpart, so it receives less funding, coverage, and overall support. Because it receives less, it struggles to gain popularity. Women are not encouraged to delve into specific fields, such as sports. These barriers are rooted in traditional gender roles and biases. Diaz really made a dent in the glass ceiling. Diaz has mentioned that one of her goals is to inspire Filipina athletes that they can do it as well.

In the book Winning Still (Essays from Philippine Sports Landscape during the Pandemic) published by Capati, Diaz wrote why she wears lipstick when she lifts.

“There’s one more reason why I wear lipstick each time I compete: I want to represent the women in sports. Just because I do weightlifting, it doesn’t mean I can’t wear lipstick. I can be strong and beautiful, and be an Olympic champion and a woman, too! This is my way of expressing my feminine side. I can put on lipstick, a dress, and a pair of heels whenever I want to. I can be whoever I want to be.”

It’s very inspiring to see that the first Olympic Gold for the Philippines was won by a Woman! In addition to Diaz, Filipinas Margie Didal ranked no. 7 in skateboarding, and Nesthy Petecio beat world no. 1 Lin Yu-Ting of Chinese Taipei and will move on to the boxing quarterfinals.

Hidilyn Diaz and all the other women athletes are great models of women’s strength, persistence, and resilience. It’s time for women to stop thinking that we are the weaker sex. We need to remember that our strength and capability are world class.

To encourage more women and girl athletes to excel in their fields and pursue their dreams, we, GAD advocates and all stakeholders need to push for the full implementation of Section 14 of the Magna Carta of Women which outlines women’s right to equal participation in sports, and the enactment of measures to ensure that gender-based discrimination in competitive and non-competitive sports is removed so that women and girls can benefit from sports development.

The law further stressed that “the State will also provide material and non-material incentives to local government units, media organizations, and the private sector for promoting, training, and preparing women and girls for participation in competitive and non-competitive sports, especially in local and international events, including, but not limited, to the Palarong Pambansa, Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, and the Olympics.” – NWI