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Hey kids, did you know?

About a hundred years ago, Filipino women couldn't vote. Only men could cast votes in Philippine elections. Men were making choices and electing into office other men whose decisions would impact on the lives of men, women and children alike. And women didn't have a say in this -- at least not officially.

Today, not only can we vote, we have women in senate and in congress. We have women governing our provinces, cities and barangays. Two female presidents so far. Maybe not all of these women improved the lives of the majority of Filipino women. But each of them represents widening possibilities for women's leadership and participation in politics. They are part of a chain of historical transformations in the Philippines, beginning with the women's right to vote.

The great-grandmothers of my generation worked hard to make this happen. They campaigned around the country, rallied the women, convinced husbands, debated and negotiated with gatekeepers and the powers that be. One of them was my Lola Pilar.

There were times I took this gift from our Lola Suffragettes for granted and neglected the responsibility that came with it.

But as I grow up I feel more and more strongly that it's important to cast that vote -- no matter how useless it might seem at times. Voting is an act of optimism that says, We can do this. We can make things work.

When they're ready, I'm going to tell my daughters: Girls, don't even think about wasting your vote. That is sooo last century!

This Women's Month I am paying tribute to the connections and relationships that have given us voice and the power of choice.


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