People Power is a term often used to describe the force of collective action, the mobilization of a large number of people to bring about social change. People Power is a form of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance that is driven by the voice of the people – it is an empowering movement of the masses that has been used for generations to bring about peace, justice, and freedom.
The concept of People Power has been used extensively as a political strategy, as well as a means of forcing change in situations where standard plea-based methods have been ignored. It has become an important tool in the fight against governmental oppression and state-sponsored human rights abuses, and has been used to resist dictatorships, foreign occupation, and oppressive government regimes. On February 22, 1986 millions of Filipinos trouped to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to protest against the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
The use of People Power is often associated with the power of protest and demonstration, but it is also so much more. People Power is a collective process of participating citizens who seek to empower and protect their neighbors, their families, and their own people. By organizing, nonviolent tactics such as general strikes, sit-ins, vigils, boycotts, and mass protests can be employed to challenge existing laws and policies. These peaceful tactics can recognize and generate grass-roots solutions that benefit the population and ultimately produce positive social, political, and economic change. The first EDSA revolution has been considered by the leaders all over the world as the most peaceful protest against a sitting president. The first People Power in EDSA catapulted Marcos from office without a single bullet being fired.
The success of People Power is often rooted in the power of the collective voice and the idea that decisions about the well-being of any given community should be made by its citizens. Because People Power is inclusive and nonviolent, it allows those from all backgrounds, genders, and ages to rally together and express their collective frustration and hope. It unites populations in a way that transcends divisions and creates strength in numbers. In the Philippines, even military men, who were ordered to use force, had to bow down to the Filipino people who were in EDSA at that time.
People Power is an effective tool that has been used to bring about seismic shifts globally. Examples of civic engagement driven by People Power include the civil rights movement not only in the Philippines but also in the U.S., the toppling of dictatorships in countries such as Cuba, Burma, and South Africa, and the ousting of authoritarian governments in countries such as Indonesia.
People Power is a powerful force that has the potential to bring about dramatic and lasting change. It is a tool that gives individuals and communities the strength to challenge oppressive regimes and seek change that benefits everyone. When citizens become empowered to take matters into their own hands, incredible social justice can be achieved.