Monday, July 31, 2017

Encarnacion Alzona

From Aleteia:
Encarnacion was the first Filipina to complete her doctoral studies; she was a national scientist, and a pioneering advocate of women’s suffrage. Born in southern Luzon, she completed an undergraduate and master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines (U.P.), and then went on to pursue further studies as a pensionado scholar in the U.S. There, she completed a second master’s degree at Radcliffe College, and a Ph.D. at Columbia University, both in history. After Columbia, she returned to the Philippines, and became a history professor at U.P. Interestingly, she graduated from Columbia the same year John Paul II was born. There must have been something in their milieu that caused both to write about the dignity of women.

In 1919, Encarnacion wrote an article arguing for a woman’s right to vote. At this time, the Philippines was still a U.S. territory with a young democracy. The first local elections were held three years earlier, but only men were permitted to vote, as part of the U.S. government’s policy to gradually educate Filipinos into a functioning democracy. In her article, Encarnacion pointed out that women also need civic education, “they being what we proudly term the first teachers of men.” She explained that if women are permitted to vote, men’s respect for them would likely increase because “a person enjoying full political rights deserves greater respect and esteem than a disenfranchised one.” These ideas show that like John Paul II, she believed that society and history needed the contribution and participation of both men and women. (Read more.)

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