Philippine Initiatives on Gender-Responsive Governance

In the Philippines, efforts to make governance gender responsive are promoted through legislation, such as the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) which mandates non-discriminatory and pro-gender equality and equity measures to enable women’s participation in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policies, plans, and programs for national, regional, and local development.

Also, the Philippine Framework Plan for Women (FPW) indicated actions planned for gender responsive governance to be undertaken by government agencies, LGUs and civil society as follows:

On mainstreaming Gender and Development (GAD) in the bureaucracy –

  1. Enforce compliance to GAD mainstreaming policies
  2. Enhance existing structural mechanisms to accelerate mainstreaming of GAD
  3. Localize GAD mainstreaming efforts
  4. Enhance capability of local and regional GAD practitioners/trainors to deliver GAD programs
  5. Strengthen linkages and partnerships among various partners

On enhancing women’s leadership roles and participation in decision-making

  1. Ensure equal representation of women in decision-making process at  the local , national and  international levels
  2. Promote gender-responsive management and transformative leadership

On strengthening women’s role in promoting gender-responsive governance –

  1. Enhance role of women’s organizations in anti-corruption programs
  2. Enhance women’s role in peace building and conflict resolution

On strengthening partnership with media in covering various women issues –

  1. Enhance gender sensitivity of media practitioners
  2. Set up enabling mechanism to facilitate exchange of data, information, tools, etc. between media and government pertinent to GAD concerns

Significant progress has been achieved in terms of implementing said measures in the FPW. The Country Gender Assessment (CGA, 2008) has noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has issued annual budget circulars since 1997 that support the implementation of GAD budgets at the local level. Currently, the local budget circular on internal revenue allotment requires agencies to apply a minimum of 5 percent of the funds for GAD. In 2001, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (now PCW), Department of Interior and Local Government, and DBM issued a joint memorandum circular to all local government units (LGUs) containing guidelines for integrating GAD in the local planning and budgeting system.

The CGA (2008) also cited the positive effects of GAD budgets and plans at the local level, such as improved services for women and men, and even reduction in the incidence of gender-based violence. It enumerated less tangible benefits that include increased awareness and advocacy for gender issues and the development of local mechanisms for planning and implementation that increase the involvement of civil society groups in government processes.

Projects that have been implemented under the GAD budget include providing health services, advocating and disseminating information on gender issues, building capacity and providing technical assistance on GAD and other gender issues, establishing or improving service facilities for women, issuing policies on gender, establishing databases and mechanisms for reporting on gender issues, improving awareness of gender issues when undertaking development planning at the national and local levels, and revising textbooks to remove social and gender stereotypes.

Also a notable gain in gender responsive governance is the audit of GAD funds initiative of the Commission on Audit (COA) which –

  • Determines government agencies’ compliance with existing laws and regulations on the utilization of GAD funds;
  • Sees to it that agencies’ plans, programs, projects and activities are aligned to the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development 1995-2025;
  • Monitors the use of GAD funds for the purpose for which they have been appropriated; and
  • Determines whether gender issues are addressed by GAD interventions in the agencies.

Results of COA’s audit initiative prompted government agencies at the national and local levels to pursue GAD budgeting in the Philippines in a more proactive manner.

Assessing the outcomes of the implementation of GAD plans and budgets, the CGA (2008) pointed out the significance of –

  • “Engaging civil society groups in local government planning and budgeting, where the GAD budget can function as an entry point and tool for negotiation;
  • Integrating GAD in national and local planning and budgeting guidelines and systems;
  • Initiating a gender budget audit by the Commission on Audit;
  • Promoting non-sexist language in government; and
  • Generating sex-disaggregated data for the formulation of gender-responsive policies and programs.”

However, several challenges still remain in the promotion of gender-responsive governance in the country such as policy development and implementation, financing and financing capacity and generation of data on GAD monitoring and implementation as well as for gender analysis.The FPW stresses the importance an enabling environment for development wherein the interaction between the Government, the private sector, and civil society is fundamental to achieving social and economic development. The CGA (2008) also underscored the vitality of care for national resources and absence of graft and corruption in good and accountable gender-responsive governance.