The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) encouraged the generation of today to fight Violence Against Women (VAW) in a Youth Forum, which kicked off the 2019 18-Day Campaign to End VAW on November 25, 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Over 500 millennials and Generation Z members attended the event including junior and senior high school students, Sangguniang Kabataan officials, boy and girl scouts, and other regional participants. The forum promotes positive masculinity and awareness on VAW and other laws protecting women and girls.
In her Opening Remarks, PCW Chairperson Dr. Rhodora M. Bucoy noted that VAWC is the most widespread, persistent and devastating form of violation in the world today. She noted reports that young boys, particularly those who are in a dating relationship, have the tendency to become abusive towards their female friends.
“It is an alarming trend that should not be ignored. There is a need for empowerment and education among the youth, so that they will have a better grasp of the realities of violence and its impact on the victims, their families and society in general,” said Bucoy.
Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Aimee S. Torrefranca-Neri expressed her hope on the young ones.
“The power of the youth can help achieve our main goal. Naniniwala po ako na sa teknolohiya at sa panahon ngayon, kahit saan ka mang henerasyon galing, mapa-Gen Z, millennial, o Gen Y, Gen Z or boomer pa man, ay kaya nating labanan ang Violence Against Women,” said Neri.
Representing Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Dr. Reinelda Raffiñan of the National Barangay Operations Office, said that the government cannot address the issue on VAW alone and thus needs the participation of young men and women, saying that “No nation can move forward if our women and girls are trapped in the cycle of violence.”
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, through Council for the Welfare of Children Executive Director Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, echoed the importance of protecting women’s rights in nation-building: “Let this important socio-political campaign further secure our gains as we continue to work together in building a more inclusive and progressive nation for generations to come.”
Generation Z and VAWC
How can the generation of today prevent or end violence? Plenary sessions in the event answered this question against the backdrop of mental health and digital responsibility.
Dr. Hyacinth C. Manood, Medical Specialist III, Chief Women and Children Protection Unit of the National Center for Mental Health tackled #GenerationChange: Gen Z against VAWC. She enumerated the different ways that Gen Z members experience violence, including slut-shaming, degrading song lyrics, and street harassment. The danger lies in the psychological and mental effects on the youth, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. She advised the participants to be informed, fight sexism, identify support system and get help if necessary.
Dr. Jose Reuben Q. Alagaran, Officer-in-Charge of the Philippine Information Agency – MIMAROPA, encouraged the youth to develop digital responsibility in his session on the #cybeREADI Campaign, focusing on preventing cyberbullying and online forms of violence.
He discussed the key ways to be safe online: Responsibility for what we post online, Empathy to be respectful and thoughtful of others in our online interactions, Authenticity and sincerity in online transactions, Discernment to critically evaluate these before acting on them, and Integrity to do the right thing, stand up for what is right and speak up against negative online behavior.
Positive masculinity took center stage at the session for boys and young men.
Mr. Harold David of the Commission on Population’s KATROPA Program led the group in the workshop entitled “You’re Road: From Toxic to Positive Masculinity.” KATROPA stands for Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya (KATROPA). Mr. David expounded on the barriers to gender equality, including the societal gender roles. He emphasized that the concept of “tunay na lalake” must be on men’s responsibility to provide the needs of the family and the ability to express emotions not through violence.
Mr. Ariel Frago, Youth Economic Empowerment Program Specialist and RAISE Project Manager of Plan International Philippines, leveraged on this message with his talk on “Werpa: The Power of Positive Masculinity.” He elaborated that with positive masculinity, men do not commit or condone violence and such non-violence will defeat gender inequality and discrimination.
Empowering girls and young women
Meanwhile, the breakout session for young women and girls focused on empowering them through knowledge and motivation.
Child Justice League, Inc. Executive Director and Independent Gender and Development Consultant, Atty. Mylen B. Gonzales-Esquivell motivated the participants to know and stand up for their rights in the session “Big Girls Don’t Cry, They Know Their Rights”. She pointed out that every woman and girl have the right to be protected from all kinds of abuse and exploitation. She also taught them how to identify red flags in a person including stalking, coercion, jealousy and emotional abuse. The participants also learned about where to get help and who may report in case of violence.
Council for the Welfare of Children’s Ms. Danella Bianca N. Bona shared about women empowering women in her talk “Alone/Together: Girls Supporting Girls against VAWC.” She said that girls must listen to a VAW survivor, respect boundaries, provide her resources and information on where to seek help.
Positive masculinity takes a musical turn in the closing program, with the performance of the boy band “The Juans” of their hits “Hindi Tayo Pwede”, rendition of Rivermaya’s “Balisong”, and Mundo.
Capping the one-day forum was an inspirational message enjoining students to move and act against VAW from National Youth Commission Chairperson and CEO Ryan R. Enriquez. He appealed to parents, “While we do our part in advocating for the law against violence against women and children, we also appeal to parents like me to seriously consider spending precious time with your children, so that you will be able to know what concerns they have that are bottled up.”
18-Day Campaign to End VAW
The 18-Day Campaign to End VAW is anchored on the Philippine government’s goal of protecting the human rights of women and girls by upholding its commitment to address all forms of gender-based violence as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Under the Republic Act 10398 or the Act declaring November 25 of every year as the National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of VAWC, government agencies are directed to raise awareness on the issue of violence and to free women and girls from its different forms.
Worldwide, the observance of this campaign starts on November 25, which is the International Day to Eliminate VAW up to December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day, to emphasize that VAW is a human rights violation. In 2002, the Philippine Government, through the Philippine Commission on Women and key stakeholders, joined the global campaign. In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 1172, extending the national campaign to 18 days, thereby including December 12, a historic date that marked the signing in the year 2000 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, to supplement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crimes.
From 2016 to 2021, the campaign carries the theme “VAW-free community starts with Me”, which encourages everyone to contribute in the efforts to end VAW. This year’s campaign underscores the valuable role of individuals, especially the youth, in fighting violence against women and girls within various institutions.
The campaign is necessary because global estimates by the World Health Organization indicate that about 1 in 3 women (35%) worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence from intimate partner or non-partner in their lifetime. In the Philippines, the National Demographic Health Survey 2017 released by the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that 1 in 4 Filipino women, aged 15-49, has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence from their husband or partner.
This year’s activities also includes the Anti-VAW Expo 2019 on November 27 to 29 at the UP College of Fine Arts, Diliman. This features five interactive booths where participants can learn about VAW laws, help-seeking behavior, and can join the National #VAWfreePH movement; Orange your Icon for 18 Days Advocacy Initiative, which aims to attract the general public’s curiosity on why major landmarks or iconic spots are orange in color, thereby providing opportunities for advocates to explain the anti-VAW advocacy; Film Showing of PCW’s recommended films on VAW; and the 18-Day Campaign Online Advocacy which includes the use of our official hashtags, #VAWFreePH and #iVowToEndVAW and the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW Facebook Profile Frame.