This International Women’s Day (IWD), we join the entire world in celebrating the progress achieved by the women’s movement globally. We salute all Filipino women who continue to play significant economic, social, cultural, and political roles in every sphere of our nation. We have made significant progress, but achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls remains a formidable challenge in the Philippines and in the world.
As we carry on with the 4th decade of celebrating Women’s Role in History Month every March, and International Women’s Day on March 8, we persevere in our call for the empowerment of women and recognition of their role as active contributors to and claimholders of development. On this occasion we reiterate our theme “We Make Change Work for Women”.
The Philippine Commission on Women recognizes the efforts of government and civil society to implement the Magna Carta of Women. We commend the leaders and members of the Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point Systems and the Regional GAD Committees who have painstakingly worked on programs and activities for women’s empowerment and gender equality. At the LGU level, we acknowledge the GAD Local Learning Hubs (LLH) with good practices in implementing gender-responsive government programs and services, such as on women’s economic empowerment, responding to violence against women, and gender mainstreaming.
In time for this global celebration, PCW will launch three books to further guide government planners and implementers on the realization of gender equality and empowerment outcomes. We are also recognizing seven (7) LGUs for inclusion in the roster of GAD LLH so that other LGUs can get inspiration from their gender-responsive programs. The fruits of development should reach every woman and man, every boy and girl, in every barangay.
Echoing the IWD theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,” we call on all government agencies at the national and local levels primarily mandated to work in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure to find innovative ways to ensure equal opportunities for and participation of women and men.
We have defined our targets for greater socio-economic resiliency and infrastructure under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. Recently enacted are three laws that will improve social protection and address the vulnerabilities of women and their families. These are the Universal Health Care Act, the 105 Days Expanded Maternity Leave Law, and the Handbook for OFWs Act.
The building blocks are in place, but there is a need to make conscious efforts to know, understand, and find ways to provide what the citizens really need. There remains the challenge of removing all structural, political, economic and social and psychological barriers that deter the achievement of gender parity.
This means no less than a transformative shift to ensure that women have genuine participation in key decision-making processes and in building an inclusive system where they could have ready access to public services, resources and sustainable infrastructures.
The bottom line is respect for diversity and inclusivity. When we treat each person as equals, regardless of sex, age, faith, political affiliation, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors, we will open opportunities for everyone to be active and productive citizens, making change, and contributing to national development. Only then can we ensure that no one will be left behind.