Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran: PCW Message on the Culmination of the 2022 National Women’s Month Celebration

The 2022 National Women’s Month Celebration (NWMC) culminates today but the advocacy towards gender equality and women’s empowerment carries on. 

The Philippine Commission on Women calls on everyone to continue celebrating Juanas from all walks of life even beyond the National Women’s Month, because they deserve the honor every single day. We salute all Juanas who are breaking the glass ceiling, Juanas who serve and lead, Juanas who work for and take care of their families and communities, Juanas who catalyze changes in their fields, Juanas who thrive, and Juanas who help build the nation in their own ways.

Coinciding with the last day of March 2022 is the culmination of the NWMC recurring theme since 2017, “WE Make CHANGE Work for Women”. At this turning point, agencies and institutions must recognize the wins and gains achieved for women and girls and also assess if we have, indeed, made change work for women. We must continuously examine our efforts in integrating gender in programs, policies, projects, and activities so that these will enable and empower women through compassionate and harmonized actions and networks. 

As we look back at what we already achieved, we also look forward to what remains to be done. This is timely and imperative as the country reels from the COVID-19 pandemic — a health crisis with dire gendered impacts. 

Studies show that the pandemic could reverse the progress towards gender parity, with the situation worsening inequalities. The pandemic increased women’s unpaid care work, put women out of work or businesses, dipped economic opportunities for them, exposed women frontliners to various risks, forced girls out of school, escalated forms of violence, further exposed other gender gaps, and exacerbated vulnerabilities in social, political, and economic aspects. 

Hence, the PCW urges agencies and stakeholders to be proactive in their Gender and Development (GAD) efforts so we will not backslide in this endeavor. The key is ensuring a gender-responsive and inclusive COVID-19 recovery, a post-pandemic backdrop founded on basic human rights and equities where no Juana is left behind. 

True to the sub-theme “Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran”, we must integrate women’s agenda in our development efforts. When we address the issues of Juanas – who comprise half of the population – it is only then can we achieve genuine and sustainable progress. 

In this light, the PCW continues to push for gender equality and women’s empowerment in  leadership, governance, and public service. This is an opportune call as we approach the national and local elections. Pursuant to the Magna Carta of Women, Juanas must be able to represent and participate in the tables where decisions and policies are being made.  

To serve as a roadmap for future leaders and the government, the PCW will be releasing the results of the Pulso para sa Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran Online Poll, set to run until April 18, 2022 and we invite everyone to look into the gender issues laid down by Juanas and Juans and craft programs with these in consideration. 

Looking forward, we also encourage our legislators to be our partners in eradicating  discriminatory provisions in existing laws and developing policies that can promote, not curtail, women’s rights. The PCW’s Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda gained traction in the recent year, with the passage of laws we supported: Republic Act No. 11596 which prohibits and criminalizes child marriage signed in December 2021 and Republic Act  No. 11648 which raised the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old, enacted in time of the first week of Women’s Month. 

While there are triumphs, we still have legal challenges to hurdle and we hope that present and future lawmakers will join our cause for gender-responsive legislation.

But while laws and policies are vital, they are not sufficient. We have to put life into the laws, programs, activities, and projects by ensuring that these translate to concrete changes that are felt by women in the grassroots. 

One significant issue that must be acted upon is advancing gender equality in the context of climate change and disaster risk reduction, rightfully the focus of this year’s International Women’s Day, with the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. The PCW urges stakeholders to intersect gender lens and involve Juanas in climate change action and disaster preparedness and mitigation. 

Indeed, the road to gender equality is long and difficult. The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 shows that it can take about 135.6 years to attain equality for genders. This means that even our children or their children will not yet experience gender parity. 

However, this must not dishearten GAD advocates but instead, this must inspire us to hasten and further reinforce our efforts to empower all genders. 

We call on the government agencies, private institutions, civil society organizations, academe, local government units from provinces to barangays, and every person to help address the continuing and emerging issues that slow down our progress towards equality. After reigniting our passion for this advocacy this National Women’s Month, we must show in full force that we are united in this pursuit through tangible actions and solutions.

The PCW extends its gratitude to participating agencies and partners with the hope that this month spurred discussions, led to realizations, and set our advocacy in full motion. 

Let us not falter in our vision: That the next generations of women will have equal rights, live a life without discrimination, violence, and stereotypes, and are respected, honored, and celebrated every day, just as they should be or just as any gender should be. When that day comes, they have you, present GAD advocates, to thank for. 

Lastly, to all Juanas, this celebration is a reminder that you are strong, magnificent, beautiful in all ways, exemplary, diligent, brilliant, compassionate and passionate, innovative, resilient, and powerful. For being trendsetters, peacemakers, innovators, and harbingers of change in the family, community, and country — we honor and celebrate you, during Women’s Month and beyond. 

Isulong ang Agenda ng Kababaihan, Tungo sa Kaunlaran! In all months and in all the succeeding years, let us continue to make CHANGE work for women.