2021 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women

Violence against women (VAW) violates human rights and continues to be one of the country’s perennial social problems. It manifests and perpetuates discrimination and gender inequality. It violates the fundamental right of women to live a life free from violence as upheld in international commitments and their local translation. VAW also affects women and girls’ general well-being, leaving long-term physical, psychological, sexual, and mental consequences, thereby hampering women from achieving their full potential.


Campaign Theme (2016-2021)

In 2016, the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women (IACVAWC) adopted the theme “VAW-free community starts with Me” for the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. The Council also agreed that the said theme shall be used every year from 2016 to 2021. The theme elevates the campaign to positive advocacy as it enjoins everyone to pursue the common vision of a community free from violence against women and girls, and highlights what can be done to achieve such. 

VAW: By the numbers

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 2017 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), showed that 1 in 4 Filipino women, aged 15-49, has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence from their husband or partner. Since the onset of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in March 2020 to August 2021, a total of 18,945 VAW cases have been reported to the PNP Women and Children Protection Center. 

Aside from domestic and intimate partner violence, women and girls also experience various forms of sexual and gender-based violence in public spaces, workplaces, schools, and even online. Even men, boys, and members of the LGBTQIA community are not spared from these forms of abuse which render public spaces unsafe for them. 

According to the global research entitled “Free to be online? Girls’ and young women’s experiences of online harassment,” released by Plan International, sixty-eight percent (68%) of girls and young women in the Philippines have experienced online harassment on social media. 

A 2016 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey reported that three in five women have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their lifetime. The survey was done as part of the UN Women’s Safe Cities Metro Manila Programme. Of the 800 respondents from two barangays in Quezon City, one in seven women experienced sexual harassment at least once every week in the past year, while one in seven men have admitted to committing an act of sexual harassment at least daily in the past year. Seventy percent (70%) of these harassment incidents happen during the day. The survey also revealed that fifty-eight percent (58%) of sexual harassment are experienced on the streets, major roads, and eskinitas with majority of physical harassment happening in public transport vehicles. 

Enacted into law In 2019, the Safe Spaces Act (SSA or Republic Act No. 11313), which defines and penalizes gender-based sexual harassment in the streets and public spaces, workplace, educational and training institutions, and online. Its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) was approved on October 28, 2019. PNP data shows that from its effectivity in August 2019, there were 148 violations of RA 11313 reported to the police.

2021 Focus and Objectives

Over two years after the enactment and approval of the IRR of the Safe Spaces Act, there is a need to intensify awareness raising on the core provisions of the law, the penalties, and mechanisms in place as the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which breeds various forms of VAW, especially online with many spending their time in the digital realm. Thus, the 2021 18-Day Campaign to End VAW shall spotlight on RA No. 11313. 

General Objective of the 2021 Campaign

The 2021 campaign generally aims to promote awareness about the SSA, both for the general public and the institutions that are mandated to implement the law. 

All government agencies and local government units (LGUs), including the private sector are enjoined to align their campaign activities with this general objective.

Key Activities Organized by the PCW

“Safe Spaces, Kasali Tayo” Online Events (November 25, December 3, and December 10, 2021) – The PCW, in coordination with the Inter-Agency Council on Violence against Women and Children (IACVAWC), will conduct four online events aiming to elevate the public’s knowledge of the law, focusing on how victims can utilize the processes and mechanisms stipulated therein. 

On November 25, the campaign will kick off with the launching of the “Let’s Make this a Safe Space” ground campaign, “#SanaAllSpacesSafe” experience-sharing online campaign, as well as the commitment-sharing of IACVAWC members. 

On December 3, the online discussion will revolve around what victims can do should they experience gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH) in the streets and public spaces or on cyberspace.

On December 10, Resource Persons shall elaborate on the mechanisms in place in preventing and responding to GBSH cases in the workplace and educational/training institutions, as well as the responsibilities of the employers and the schools stated under the Safe Spaces Act. 

On December 12, as a culminating activity, a video featuring the highlights of the campaign will be released by the PCW. 

Let’s Make this a Safe Space Ground Campaign 

Aside from maximizing online platforms, this year’s campaign aims to gain traction in the ground as well, mounting tangible visual messages in the streets, public spaces, private establishments, public utility vehicles, sidewalks, alleys, restrooms, and other spaces. This is also aligned with the objective of preventing GBSH in public spaces and the streets, a core provision under the Safe Spaces Act. Designs for various materials like posters, stickers, billboards, brochures and primers will be made available for download for agencies, private entities, and other stakeholders to produce and post in conspicuous places in their areas. PCW will also collaborate with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agencies so IEC materials can also be posted, distributed, or shown in transport terminals and public utility vehicles. All the materials shall bear the link to the webpage featuring all pertinent information and resources related to the Safe Spaces Act. PCW will also distribute IEC materials to select provinces and cities in the Philippines to make sure the national awareness campaign reaches different stakeholders in the country. 

#SanaAllSpacesSafe Online Campaign. This online campaign aims to encourage the public to share how they visualize a community without gender-based sexual harassment. Under the hashtag #SanaAllSpacesSafe, it serves as a platform for all genders to expound on their imagery of and hopes for a VAW-free community, also opening discussions on experiences relative to VAW and/or sexual harassment. 

Do the Macho Choir! In 2018, the Philippine Commission on Women, in partnership with DDB Cares, developed three (3) radio plugs entitled “Macho Choir”, featuring three 30-seconder nursery melodies with lyrics which emphasize that catcalling is a form of sexual harassment. With “Do the Macho Choir” video challenge, participants can sing, dance, act, and give their own creative spin to the Macho Choir and post their take on one or all of the plugs under the hashtag, #DoTheMachoChoir.

Safe Spaces Pledge. Towards the goal of building a VAW-free community, this encourages everyone to commit to ensuring safe spaces for all in any way possible. Officials of agencies, implementers, service providers, establishment owners, educators, employers, influencers, and ordinary people can share their #SafeSpacesPledge vowing to do their part in making all spaces safe through actions as public servants, private institutions, or as individuals.

Orange Your Icon Advocacy Initiative. This initiative enjoins government offices and private organizations nationwide to color its major landmarks or icons with orange from November 25 to December 12 this year in line with the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. Launched in 2015, this initiative aims to attract and spark public’s curiosity which provides opportunities for advocates to explain and to declare their support to the Anti-VAW advocacy. This will serve as a springboard for public discourse and for disseminating the message of zero-tolerance for VAW.

Other Online Campaign. The online advocacy campaign will be strengthened through different social media cards on VAW, use of official hashtag: #VAWFreePH, use of 18-Day Campaign to End VAW Facebook Profile Frame available through the PCW FB page, encouraging agencies to feature the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW on their websites and social media accounts. Viber stickers bearing messages on the Safe Spaces Act and VAW in general will be up for download.

Suggested Activities for Government Agencies, Local Government Units, and
Regional and Local Gender and Development (GAD) and VAW Mechanisms

Aside from joining the PCW-organized activities, government agencies, LGUs, the private sector, as well as regional and local GAD and anti-VAW mechanisms are encouraged to organize their own activities that are aligned with the general objectives of the 2021 campaign, such as:

  • Display of official campaign banner in conspicuous places of their offices as well as their online platforms;
  • Development, printing, and distribution of advocacy materials on SSA, especially for their clients;
  • Playing/showing of PCW-produced and agency-produced (if there are any) videos/infomercials on VAW and SSA in public areas, electronic billboards, and tv/radio programs managed by their office;
  • Conduct of orientation or forum regarding SSA;
  • For government and private entities tasked to implement specific provisions of the SSA, conduct of internal discussions on operationalizing their mandates under the law

The annual observance of the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW as well as the national advocacy for RA 11313 implementation are strictly non-partisan and not election-related activities. To maintain the focus on the advocacy, please refrain from using PCW-produced materials for political gains.