When I was informed that President Aquino appointed me as Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in December 2010, I could not help saying “Wow! What an honor to be a ‘balikbayan’ to NCRFW, the former name of PCW when I resigned as its Executive Director in 1994 – a nine-year experience I am always happy to recall.” I wished for it, I prayed for it, especially since PILIPINA, the women’s group where I belong, played a major role in conceptualizing, defining, drafting and lobbying for the passage of the Magna Carta of Women. I was happy that I will have a hand in meeting the challenge of getting MCW implemented as Chair of the PCW.
The past six years have been inspiring and enlightening. I realized that in the course of almost 17 years that I went full time in leadership of PILIPINA and the Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP); things have changed in the way people look at the Commission’s work. As PCW Chair, I experienced and witnessed the growing appreciation of national government agencies; local government units; government owned and controlled corporations; and other government bodies of PCW’s advocacies. I knew very well that many have been inspired to become one with us, to partner with us, and tap the Commission's assistance and expertise on mainstreaming gender and development in their respective organizations. I am in a privileged position of having a full thirty-year view of the progress in GAD advocacy, policy making, implementation and monitoring and evaluation in the Philippine government. GAD is now fully accepted as legitimate agenda of governance and Gender Mainstreaming is also adopted as a strategy to implement the MCW, with its concomitant policies, guidelines, tools and processes, as well as priority concerns, programs and trainings.
What is PCW’s secret of service? It is a culture of dedicated service built by people who believe in themselves and in each other. Some of the staff have given their lives in service and had the experience of knowing how to interview, select people who will join them; see to it that they have the passion, the commitment that’s good for the long haul. Even if some of them did not stay longer, they carry with them wherever they go, the vision of gender equality as a goal in itself and as essential for the achievement of the government’s other overall objectives, such as peace, security, women’s empowerment, and sustainable development. Thus, working with PCW made them realize why gender equality and human rights efforts must remain unabated.
Now, I will go back to my NGO work inspired by the spirit of PCW’s people. I have no doubt they will be ready to continue their spirit of dedication, commitment, and hard work in support of gender equality, human rights and the empowerment of women.
As outgoing PCW Chair and having assisted in the GAD Programs of Davao City under its former Mayor, I am confident that the next administration will ask PCW to continue their commitment and passion for their work as he gives his full support to the empowerment of people in the marginalized sectors.
Remedios I. Rikken
PCW Chairperson 2010-2016