Inspiring Thursday: Ninotchka Roska
Referring to herself as a “transnational Filipina”, Ninotchka Roska is a prolific writer, author of eleven books, journalist, as well as a fervent advocate for women´s rights and liberation. She has won several awards, including the American Book Award for Excellence in Literature for her famous book Twice Blessed.
Born in the Philippines and now living in New York, she has been active in many different organisations, taught at the University of Hawaii at Maona, written for many different newspapers and magazines, and has also been a political prisoner under the Marcos regime in the Philippines. She experienced prison for several months in the seventies, shortly after the then Filipino dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, declared martial law and got her arrested and placed in Camp Crame Detention Center. However, this did not frighten her, nor stop her, and she drew on that harsh experience to write nine stories filled with realistic details about military detention in an authoritarian nation (The Monsoon Collection, which was published in Australia, to protect Ninotchka).
She was then forced to go into exile after being threatened with prison a second time for her human rights´ activism, firstly moving to Hawaii where she had relatives and taught at university at the end of the 1970s, and later moving to New-York, where she then settled for longer, mostly because of the wider range of opportunities in the publishing industry. Her stay in the United States did not diminish her commitment to and focus on the Philippines. In the USA, she founded and was the first national chair of GABRIELA Network (GABNet), a Filipina-American women´s rights organisation, which seeks to protect migrant workers and is the largest and only US-Philippines women´s solidarity mass organisation. GabNet later evolved into AF3IRM. Roska is also the international spokesperson of GABNET´s Purple Rose Campaign against the trafficking of women, with an emphasis on Filipinas. She is also very active in the Marioposa Center for change, Sisterhood is Global and the Mariposa Alliance.
Ninotchka was actively involved in the planning of the fourth UN Conference on Women taking place in Beijing, China and also participated at the UN´s World Conference on Human rights in Vienna, Austria. It is after that conference that the slogan “Women´s rights are human rights”, that Ninotchka had brought from the Philippine women´s movement, gained international prominence.
Rosca is particularly interested in the origins of women´s oppression and the links between class, race, and gender exploitation and is therefore heavily involved in the study of the theory and practice of transnational and intersectional feminism. Her main issues of expertise are sex tourism, trafficking, the mail-order bride industry and violence against women in general.
For all that and everything she has already achieved, she has been designated as one of the 12 Asian American Women of Hope by the Bread and Roses Cultural Project, who chooses women based on their courage, compassion and commitment to shaping society.
By Teresa Iglesias-Lopez, WAVE Intern
“About .” Ninotchka Rosca, www.ninotchkarosca.com/about/.
Goyette, Braden. “Interview With Ninotchka Rosca.” Maisonneuve, 16 May 2010, maisonneuve.org/article/2010/05/16/interview-ninotchka-rosca/.
“Ninotchka Rosca Biography.” Enotes.com, www.enotes.com/topics/ninotchka-rosca.
“Ninotchka Rosca (Author of State of War).” Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/author/show/225773.Ninotchka_Rosca.