In a world where physical strength rules and where generally men dominate, where does a woman stand? The answer is at a slaughterhouse.

Meet Luzvilla Quicay-Salbidos or simply Bella, a 43-year-old mother of four, who works at a slaughterhouse as a Butcher. To many, it may seem odd that a woman is working at a slaughterhouse where physical strength and endurance are two of the major qualifications for a job. But Bella does not seem to care, and neither do we.

Bella shares her story in an interview.

We visited Bella at her workplace all the way in Bangkerohan, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay as we are searching for empowered women who demonstrates strength and perseverance amidst gender stereotyping issues.

Her hands are still soaked and wet from the work that she has been doing in the slaughterhouse since 2 in the morning. Her fingers are all pruney and wrinkled as she welcomes and tours us in her workplace.

It is a big, high-ceiling room with plastic curtains that cover the doors. The floor is wet and a little bit slippery. You can definitely smell the flesh of the meat and the moisture build-up inside the room.

Bella shares that out of 35 employees in the slaughterhouse, 33 are men and only 2 of them are women. According to her, despite the overwhelming difference in ratio, her gender does not define the quality of work or the performance that she gives.

Kailangan hindi ka malamya kumilos, parang lalake ka rin kumilos. Makisabay ka sa kilos nila na mabilisan. (Acting clumsily is a no no. You must keep up with the fast pace performance of men.)” Bella said.

As a mother of four boys, Bella inculcates this aspect to her children. She says that gender roles have never been an issue in their household. Ever since, she has taught her children the value of gender equality. As a matter of fact, her boys learned to do household chores that are typically considered and are associated with women in a stereotyped society.

Sabi ko hindi porket lalake kayo ay hindi na kayo gagawa ng gawaing bahay. Ganon yung sinasabi namin sa kanila, gender-equality. (I tell them just because they are men does not exempt them from doing household chores. We teach them about gender-equality,)” Bella added.

Gender-equality is discussed in the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries as one of the modules that are taught to 4Ps beneficiaries. FDS is a monthly meeting of 4Ps beneficiaries where they learn modules on parenting, financial management, gender and children rights, among others.

Back to Bella’s workplace, her husband, Ronald, greeted us with a smile on his face and a butcher knife on his hand. He had just finished his duty and was waiting for Bella for them to have breakfast together.

They both work in the same slaughterhouse and earn 200 pesos from butchering and cleaning a whole cow. They start working from 2 in the morning until to 2 in the afternoon.

After their shift in the slaughterhouse, they go back home to take care of their new business venture in rice-retail that they hope would help them in their financial stability. They also prepare for the arrival of their kids from their online schooling.