The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) convened over 250 representatives from national, regional and local government agencies, academe, private sector, civil society and people’s organizations in a series of consultation and validation workshops for the preparation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) +25 Progress Report.
The BPfA is the most comprehensive and progressive document that advances the rights of women and gender equality worldwide. Agreed during the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, the document affirmed the principles that would govern future actions and strategies for women by integrating their concerns in national plans and policies. It is an opportunity that enables governments to account for their commitments, and demand stronger, more effective accountability mechanisms. It also sets strategic objectives in achieving gender equality in 12 critical areas, which include women and poverty, the economy, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, human rights, media and ICT, the environment, participation and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, and the girl child.
The country is set to submit the BPfA +25 Progress Report in May 2019. The Report shall include an assessment of the current challenges that affect the implementation of the agreements enshrined in the BPfA. It shall also highlight major achievements on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and its contribution towards the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In order to craft the Report, a series of sub-national consultation and validation workshops were held in three major cities of the country this March. Inputs on the initiatives, and achievements, implemented over the last five years (2014-2019) gaps, challenges and recommended actions were gathered from stakeholders nationwide during the workshops.
PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa noted the importance of making the report preparation process consultative and inclusive.
“We cannot discount that there are efforts and innovations going on at the regional and local level, not just from the government but from private and non-government organizations as well, and we want to document and bring that into our country report. We also want to know the challenges that they are facing on the ground and see how we can help address these through policies and programs that are discussed at the national level,” she emphasized.
“The Philippines has been one of the leading countries in the world in terms of gender equality and women’s empowerment. What we also hope for is to show our best practices and our milestone achievements on gender equality. We also aim to inspire other countries to follow our lead and at the same time, be mindful of the challenges and the remaining gaps as we look into the realities of women and girls,” noted by Charisse Jordan of UN Women in her message during the Cebu leg.
While the discussions in Luzon and Visayas were heated on poverty alleviation, labor and employment, climate change, disaster risk reduction, and agriculture and fisheries, among others, issues in Mindanao criss-crossed with peace and development, armed conflict and violent extremism.
“Peace is not only the absence of war. Hunger is an issue of peace because if there is no food in the stomach, how could you have peace of mind. Peace is a crosscutting issue to health, education and everything else. Peace is integrated especially in women’s concerns. And peace should begin with me,” shared Lily Abella Mocles of Women Initiative for Social Empowerment in Region XII during the Mindanao leg.
Rubymae Laconde of Indigenous Peoples for Development of Wao, Lanao del Norte seconded the statement of Mocles, adding that “we cannot have peace if we do not have fish.”
The participants had a fruitful discussion on the measures taken and progress in relation to the BPfA 12 critical areas of concerns, clustered into six groups representing the following overarching dimensions: inclusive development, shared prosperity and decent work; poverty eradication, social protection and social services; freedom from violence, stigma and stereotypes; participation, accountability and gender-responsive institutions; peaceful and inclusive societies; and environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation.
The workshops enabled the documentation of contributions, accomplishments and best practices of the stakeholders. Validation of the collected and shared quantitative data with regard to women’s economic empowerment programs, capacity building and advocacy activities, political participation and representation, gender-responsive budgeting, community mobilizations, strengthening and institutionalization of women’s groups, documentation of human rights violations was also done.
Information gathered include programs that have increased women’s access to resources and livelihood, increased skills to both women and men, improved knowledge on resource mobilization and participation in governance, environmental sustainability, engagement of women and girls in risk assessment, analysis and planning.
Furthermore, the role and contributions of civil society organizations (CSOs) in national development were underscored especially in implementing programs in the ground and in filling the gaps that the government inadvertently fail to recognize.
“We are looking at this opportunity to reconnect, understand how we can recharge commitment, rally political will, mobilize not only us who are working for this cause—but also to rally the public, alongside our public officials because we recognize that everyone plays a role through realizing gender equality among our concerted actions,” shared by Diana Kathrina Fontamillas, UN Women National Program Coordinator in her message during the Luzon leg.
Despite all the hard work and efforts, there are still issues and challenges which remain to be addressed such as sustainability of the projects, institutionalization of policies, commitment and ownership of the stakeholders, lack of monitoring mechanisms, limited participation of CSOs in GAD-responsive planning and project implementation, and access to basic services.
“There is so much work to do in order to attain the objectives of the BPfA and everyone has a role to play,” emphasized Dr. Macario Jusayan, Chief GAD Specialist of PCW’s Sectoral Coordination Division.
The BPfA +25 Philippine Progress Report is slated to be launched in August 2019 as part of the tenth anniversary celebration of the passage of the Magna Carta of Women.
The sub-national consultation workshops were held in Cebu, Davao and Manila on March 19-20, March 21-22, and March 25-26, 2019, respectively, while the national validation workshop was conducted on March 28-29, 2019 in Manila. Supported by the UN Women, the People of Japan and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes, this initiative is PCW’s culminating activity in observance of the National Women’s Month.