13 March 2008, MANILA -- The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), the national machinery for the advancement of women, showing its strong commitment to gender and development (GAD) concerns is encouraging all government agencies to appropriately utilize their GAD budget to uplift the lives of Filipino women.
The NCRFW continues to push for strategies it adopted to mobilize resources in the promotion of gender-related activities.
For the 2008 Women's Month Celebration spearheaded by NCRFW, the event will focus on encouraging the national and local government agencies to properly apportion their GAD budget, which is at least five percent of the total agency budget allocation, in essential projects and programs such as basic emergency obstetrics care facilities, promoting breastfeeding for infants, health and nutrition programs for preschoolers, female adolescents, pregnant and lactating women.
The GAD budget can also be allocated for the improvement of Anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) facilities such as setting up women's crisis centers, women and child police desks and shelters in their respective areas.
GAD plan and budget is a systematically designed set of programs, projects and activities with corresponding budget carried out by agencies over a given period of time to address the gender issues and concerns in their respective sectors and constituents.
According to Chairperson Myrna T. Yao, the GAD agenda that is meant to support advancement of gender equality in the Philippines has been a recognized priority of the government.
"The real struggle of women, however, is at the local levels. This is why we started to introduce gender mainstreaming into the work of local government units," she said.
LGU Women"s Day Celebration will be hosted by the Batangas Provincial Government headed by Governor Vilma Santos-Rectol on March 13, 2008 as part of efforts to bring the services closer to women in the local level. This year's theme is "CEDAW ng Bayan: Yaman ng Kababaihan." It aims to promote the use of GAD budget in the government to finance gender equality and women's empowerment programs at the national and local levels, specifically in addressing the United Nations Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee's Concluding Comments.
With this year's commemoration, the NCRFW will continue its advocacy of CEDAW as the international bill of rights for women, emphasizing the state's obligation to respect, protect and fulfill women's rights in social, economic, political, civil and family spheres.
The GAD budget policy was institutionalized starting in 1995 under the General Appropriations Act, which is the law that contains the annual budget of the national government, includes a provision that directs all departments, bureaus, offices and agencies to set aside five percent of their total budget.
To further strengthen the policy, the NCRFW, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) jointly issued Joint Circular No. 2004-1, providing for guidelines on the preparation of annual GAD plan and budget and accomplishment report by all national government agencies, state universities and colleges (SUCs) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
At the local level, all LGUs are likewise required to prepare GAD plans as provided under the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2001-01 issued by NCRFW, DBM and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which prescribes guidelines to LGUs for integrating GAD in the local planning and budgeting system.
"Gender mainstreaming makes women's and men's concerns and experiences an integral part of the design, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all sectors of society. Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. Empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty," Chairperson Yao added.
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Ms. Louie Alonso Belmonte