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Addressing the Community Leadership Challenges Faced by Women Leaders of Sitio Galilee, Antipolo Essay

This 2012 study explores the community leadership of women in the locale of Sitio Galilee in Antipolo City. Even though the standards of leadership persist to be male-oriented, more women are taking up leadership positions in our society. The prevalent aim of this study is to identify the challenges that these women leaders face toward development in their community; more importantly, how these can be addressed. The study mainly sought to (1) identify and understand the leadership challenges that women leaders face in initiating development in their community, and (2) facilitate or assist possible action programs that will address these challenges. To resolve this issue, the processes of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) were followed, namely:

(1) diagnosing the status of women’s involvement and leadership in the community, (2) planning of action programs that will address the identified leadership challenges, (3) its implementation and monitoring, and (4) the evaluation. The accounts of women leaders and the perceptions of the members were collected through one-on-one interviews. In addition, focus group discussions were conducted to encourage people’s participation. Guided by the Social Role Theory, the role of the women as community leaders is further analyzed. This study is a contributory factor to theoreticians and community development practitioners in analyzing the unaddressed issues of community leadership.

Keywords: Women and leadership, community leadership, community development, Participatory Action Research

Background of the Study Traditionally, community affairs and administration have been the sphere of influence of men. Hassan (2008) explains that “this is evident from the imbalance of leaders and office bearers across community, local councils and associations.” Silong (2008) also pointed out that “women have not been active in local politics and are relatively inactive in public processes due to institutional, socio-economic and cultural constraints.”

In the history of the Philippines, women portrayed essential roles, not only in the facet of taking care of the family but also in the development of the life of the tribe during the pre-colonial times (Shah, 2007). With the beginning of colonization, it brought about a patriarchal society wherein women were made inferior to men and are not licensed to certain rights (Clamonte, 2007). However, times are changing. There is now acceptance that women can do and play a significant role in community affairs, particularly in contributing to the achievement of community development and progress.

Nowadays, stories of women occupying leadership positions are becoming ordinary. Although regarded by Zaharah and Silong (2008) as “the unsung heroes of community action”, women’s role in community leadership has become increasingly important. In certain communities, they already learned the knowledge and skill that have produced positive transformation to their community (Bond, Holmes, Byrne, Babchuck, & Kirton-Robbins, 2008). More importantly, they have established themselves as community leaders. However, many are not aware of the challenges that these women leaders face.

In view of this, the researcher learned, through the ocular visit that all the community leaders of Sitio Galilee, Antipolo are women. Their husbands work in the city and only come home for the weekend. Hence, their weekdays are spent at caring for the family, doing household chores, daily chatting in the neighborhood and playing card games. Above all this, they also manage to plan and work concerning community affairs. The researcher sought to further investigate on the women’s leadership in the community, specifically on the challenges they encounter.

Research Objectives

The women leaders in the community of Sitio Galilee, Antipolo face several leadership challenges that need to be addressed. How can the community of Sitio Galilee, Antipolo address these? Specifically, this study sought to:

1. Diagnose the status of women’s involvement and leadership in the community; 2. Identify the leadership challenges faced by women leaders towards community development; 3. Initiate the planning of action programs that will address the identified leadership challenges; 4. Implement the action program and facilitate its monitoring; and 5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the action programs.

Significance of the Study

This study serves its significance for two aspects: theoretical and practical. Firstly, this study is guided by the Social Role theory. This theory emphasizes on the processes of role-taking and role-making as part of an individual’s life. Accompanied by these processes is the role conflict which may develop as one struggle different simultaneous roles. This study improves the clarity and applicability of the theory as it is used by a researcher.

This study is a contributory factor to the residents of Sitio Galilee, Antipolo in broadening their understanding of the leadership barriers that their women leaders are encountering. This Participatory Action Research assists them in the process of maximum participation of the community, through initiating action programs, in addressing the identified challenges. Hence, this study promotes and encourages community development in the locale.

This study is affiliated with the University of Santo Tomas and its Simbahayan Office. This is a useful document in analyzing and addressing the issues of community leadership within their partner communities.

Scope and Delimitation

The scope of this research is the women leaders in Sitio Galilee, Antipolo. This study focused on the role of women in leadership and community development, the identification of the experienced leadership barriers towards development in their community, and most significantly the process wherein these challenges were addressed.

This study did not cover other factors, other than leadership per se, that impede the process of development and progress in the community of Sitio Galilee. A constructivist worldview was applied. This implies that the researcher seeks to establish the meaning of a phenomenon from the views of the participants. In this endeavor, the journeys of women leaders were described and determined by the participants. Furthermore, the action programs implemented came from the propositions of the participants. The researcher only served as facilitator and participant observer of the said approach.

Theoretical Framework Individuals have several roles that they play across time and place within the period of life. According to Burr (1972), “throughout life, individuals transfer into and out of different roles, keeping some, leaving others behind, and beginning new roles.”

This study is guided by the Social Role Theory. This is not just a single theory; rather this was established through interrelating and interconnecting perspectives. One of the pioneers of this theory is George Herbert Mead’s “role-taking”. It explains that the ability to put oneself in another’s place is an essential development of the ‘self’ (Ritzer, 2000).

According to this theory, “social role is a set of rights, duties, expectations, norms and behavior a person has to face and to fulfill.” Linton (1936) explained that, as cited in the study of Harrison and Lynch (2005), “the role represents the sum total of all various roles of an individual, and determines what one does for the society and one may expect from it.”

In this sense, “roles do not remain static, but change and evolve over time”, as stated by Turner (1990). There is the concept of “role-taking” where an individual acquires or takes on the role of other individuals; and “role-making” wherein one is able to create and recreate these roles (Turner, 1990).

In undergoing these processes, one may experience “role overload” and “role conflict”. Turner (1990) defines role overload as, “the experience of lacking the resources, including time and energy, needed to meet the demands of all roles.” On the other hand, role conflict is defined by Turner (1990) as, “an incongruity between the expectations of one role and those of another.” However, there is the so called “role balance”. Role balance is a state wherein an individual is able to perform his or her roles well and meet its expectations (Marks & MacDermid, 1996).

To show how the social role theory is applied in this study of the leadership challenges of women leaders, the researcher conceptualized a paradigm that illustrate how the multiple roles (with its linked rights, duties and expectations to it) of a woman contribute to the challenges they face.

Literature Review

Gender role encapsulates the characteristics and behaviors that are distinguished as either masculine or feminine (Bem, 1974; Clamonte, 2007). Carli and Eagly (2001) have enumerated:

The set of traits and behaviors labeled as masculine includes the following: is self-reliant, independent, and assertive, has leadership abilities, is willing to take risks, makes decisions easily, is dominant, is willing to take a stand, acts like a leader, and is athletic, ambitious, and self-sufficient. The set of traits and behaviors labeled as feminine include these: is affectionate, compassionate, and cheerful, does not use harsh language, is loyal, sensitive to the needs of others, sympathetic, gentle, and understanding, loves children, and is tender and warm.

Tannen (1990) pointed out that, “the traditional gender role is a social orientation that emphasizes closeness and solidarity, whereas the traditional masculine gender role is a social orientation that emphasized power and status.” In sociology, gender roles are considered ‘artifactual’ or socially constructed ideals in the society. Eagly (2002) has characterized this as a “male-advantaged gender hierarchy.” The roles associated to men benefited them more than the women’s. They gained more access to resources, authority in decision makings and more slots in the administration (Kolb, 1999).

In the Philippines, women enjoyed distinguished equality in the society during the pre-colonial times (Santos-Maranan, Parreno, & Fabros, 2006). Shah (2007) explicated that, “Filipinos have tracked kinship bilaterally.” Some of the rights they experienced are: (1) they were entitled to the properties of their family, (2) instigate divorce of their husbands, (3) engage in trading and a lot more privileges (Clamonte, 2007).

However, the coming of the Spaniards that brought about the indoctrination of Catholicism has downgraded the role of Filipino women (Shah, 2007). The spirit of the native Filipina was changed. Shah (2007) expounded that, “the image of the Filipino women became tied to the house whose only duty was to take care of the husband and the children.” Alesina, Nunn and Giuliano (2011) also added, “It also became a father’s good girl, a husband’s subject, and a long-suffering woman with sealed lips and silent sobs and has not right to participate political undertakings.”

In the rural area, the Filipino woman belongs in the home. Flavier (2007) described in his book, Doctor to the Barrios, that “rural women in the Philippines wield considerable authority, the housewife in particular.” According to him, the housewife is often called as the “Reyna ng Tahanan”.

A recent writing by Vartii (2011) revealed that, “there is a re-emergence of the empowerment of Filipino women though the political process.” In the present times, women in the Philippines are reviving the strengths they lost. Women now are seen working outside the home and occupying the prominent positions in their own field. Many even manage to become leaders. Fabros (2005) affirmed, “No matter what kinds of issues they (women) are involved in at present, one thing is clear – they are the very testimony of a better Philippines.”

The second-wave feminism and radical feminism have remedied the traditional issues on gender (Cornell, 1998 in Pflanz, 2011). Even though there was a significant development of the status of women in the 20th century, there’s still much to be done to fully change the social beliefs regarding this matter. Carly and Eagly (2001) argues that, “women continue to lack access to power and leadership compared with men.” There is this phenomenon called “glass ceiling”. Coleman (2003) defines this as “a barrier that is impenetrable to women.” Pflanz (2011) mentioned in his study that, “Studies involving women in leadership roles indicate the majority of women believe their biggest obstacle to advancement is a mindset favoring candidates that fit in a male-dominated environment.”

Even though the standards of leadership persist to be male-oriented, more women are taking up leadership positions in our society (Pflanz, 2011). Pflanz (2011) further explained that, “many women assume leadership positions in order to have an influence within their communities.”

The Department of Communities of the Queensland Government (2006) stated that, “Community leadership is leadership in, for and by the community.” Ferrer (2010) affirms, “it reflects the concept of people and groups working together to achieve common vision and goals.” Community leadership is not profit-oriented and therefore involves non-paid leaders (Baconguis, 2010). In the study of Garina (1957), he revealed that, “non-paid local leaders are vital in community action; cooperation with them by outside agencies is imperative in the process of community development.”

Women’s participation in the communities and national scene was not only through public leadership. In many cases, women form the backbone of formations as members or volunteers, particularly at the community level. There are numerous examples of this point: barangay health workers, churchwomen, community mobilizers, members of people’s organizations and civic organizations – over and above their traditional roles as domestic managers/housekeepers, caregivers, and even as they engage in productive labor outside the domestic sphere (Bond, Holmes, Byrne, Babchuck, & Kirton-Robbins, 2008).

The report on the Forum on Women NGO Managers in 1987 entitled, “Women NGO Managers: Issues and Dilemmas” revealed that women NGO managers play multiple roles and have triple responsibility of caring for the home and children, earning a living/working outside the home and contributing to the national development. It showed that these women experience a major dilemma on how to balance and integrate the concerns of family life and the demands of work/career commitment. These pressures on family-work commitments are further magnified by leadership roles that women play in their organization (PHILDHRRA, 1987).


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