GPH – UN Body Conclude Constructive Dialogue on the Implementation of International Women’s Human Rights Treaty

The Philippine government presented its combined 7th and 8th periodic report at the 64th Session of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in Geneva, Switzerland on July 5, 2016.

The Committee oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which the Philippines ratified in 1981.

In her opening statement, Ambassador Cecilia Rebong of the Philippine Mission to the UN Office in Geneva who co-headed the Philippine Delegation along with Ambassador Rosario Manalo, stressed that the passage of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) in 2009 is a milestone in women’s rights advocacy in the Philippines. The MCW is the national application of CEDAW in the Philippine legal system that embodies the various provisions of the Convention.

The passage of the MCW also paved the way for the enactment of other pertinent laws that bear on women’s rights, such as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law and the Batas Kasambahay Law, among others.

The Philippine Government also highlighted its good standing in global indicators on gender equality. The Philippines ranked 7th out of 145 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index of the 2015 World Economic Forum, the only Asian country in the top ten since 2006.

PH efforts lauded by UN Committee Experts

The dialogue which lasted for five and a half hours provided an opportunity for the Committee and the Philippine delegation to clarify issues on the implementation of CEDAW, MCW and their impact on women in various sectors including those with disabilities, indigenous  and Muslim women. Institutional mechanisms on VAW, anti-trafficking efforts and programs, issues on social protection for elderly women, sustenance and monitoring mechanisms of government development plans were also discussed.

During the constructive dialogue, the UN Committee Experts commended the Philippines for adopting the Magna Carta of Women and the impressive list of laws aimed at increasing the participation and representation of women, measures addressing the gender gap in education, advocacy and training to eliminate gender stereotyping, and the strengthening of the mandate and expansion of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

Several Committee members also congratulated the Philippines for the country’s significant efforts to address the issue on trafficking in persons, which includes the strengthening of regional and international partnerships, cooperation and coordination with other countries in order to suppress trafficking and cyber-trafficking activities in the country. The Philippines was recently upgraded to Tier 1 in the 2016 Global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report of the US Department of State. This is the highest rank a country may receive under the United States ranking of global anti-trafficking efforts.

Other notable developments in advancing women’s human rights in the country include women’s leadership role in peace negotiations and peace process; the adoption of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security to operationalize UN Security Council Resolution 1325; and the ruling of Supreme Court in favor of the flight attendants on the gender-based discrimination case against the Philippine Airlines.

More Work on Empowering All Pinays

In her concluding remarks, PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa thanked the UN Committee experts as well as the non-government organizations, and the Un Country Team for providing valuable insights and recommendations to further improve the implementation of CEDAW in the country. Optimistic that the government can work together to fully advance women’s rights in the years to come, she assured the Committee that the Philippines will remain committed to continue improving the lives of Filipino women and girls.

“We look forward to receiving an official copy of the Concluding Observations from the Committee. We remain optimistic that the gender and development (GAD) Focal Point System of government agencies, who are our main partners in ensuring that government programs and projects address the gender-differentiated needs of our citizens, will ensure that women’s issues and concerns are consciously considered in pursuing the changes that the new administration will implement to reach the marginalized sectors of our society,” Verzosa said when the delegation came back to the Philippines.

The other members of the Philippine delegation were representatives of the Philippine Commission on Women, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, National Economic and Development Authority, Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women, National Commission for Indigenous People, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Department of Labor and Employment,Commission on Higher Education, and the Philippine Representative to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children.

CEDAW and the Philippines

State Parties to the CEDAW are duty-bound to pursue, with all appropriate means and without delay, a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and shall ensure at all times the protection, promotion and fulfillment of women’s rights.

The first among the ASEAN countries to sign the Convention in July 1980, the Philippines has achieved several milestones and has put in place mechanisms in line with the obligations under the Convention.

The combined 7th and 8th report of the Philippines on the implementation of the CEDAW went through a participatory formulation process, consolidating information and updates from concerned government agencies on their implementation of the CEDAW and supplementing these with information from relevant studies, and statistics on the situation of women and men in the country. 

Copy of the report can be accessed here.