Male advocates assemble, commit to end gender-based violence

Some 150 male advocates from various government agencies and civil society organizations nationwide gathered to echo their support in ending gender-based violence (GBV).

On December 3-4, 2018, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) in partnership with the Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) and the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women conducted the “Male Advocates Assembly on Eliminating Gender-Based Violence” at the Blulane Hotel in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

The assembly gathered male advocates nationwide to promote the role of men as partners in the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women (VAW) and girls heighten and sustain anti-VAW efforts and promote gender-sensitive delivery of anti-VAW services of both national and local levels. 

The event also served as a venue for the male advocates to have an exchange of ideas, experiences and practices in eliminating VAW in their respective areas and influences, as well as bonding with the other members from the provinces to strengthen camaraderie among the members.

In the opening program, Commission on Population (POPCOM) Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez shared how his agency implements gender mainstreaming and encourages men to be active partners for gender equality.

Undersecretary Aimee Neri of DSWD, speaking on behalf of the IACVAWC Chair, Secretary Rolando Bautista committed to spearhead constructive dialogues and technical discussions in order to touch-base with the real gender equality issues and address the root causes of violence against women.

PCW Chairperson Rhodora Masilang-Bucoy emphasized that the duty to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality is not exclusive to women alone. Men’s participation strengthens each step towards ending VAW that hampers true progress and equality.

“We in PCW will do everything in our means to promote women’s empowerment and to enhance the participation of men in the development of gender and development programs and policies. We, regardless of age, sex, religion, social class and ability, should all pledge to work hand-in-hand to move beyond rhetoric and take action to uphold positive masculinity and improve the quality of life of women, men, and children everywhere,” she added.

Meanwhile, United Nations Population Fund Country Representative to the Philippines, Mr. Iori Kato, noted in his message that men and boys are also critical contributors to the empowerment of women and girls. He emphasized four important reasons for the need to engage men and boys in reducing and preventing gender-based violence: (1) predominantly, men and boys are the ones who perpetrate violence; (2) social constructions of masculinity play a crucial role in shaping men’s and boy’s violence against women; (3) men may have better chances to change fellow men; and (4) involving men and boys mean that women and girls do not have to make the transformation alone. 

Ms. Plenee Grace Castillo of the Philippine Statistical Authority presented the results of the prevalence of VAW found in the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey. She noted that 17% of ever-married women experience physical violence since age 15 and spousal violence has slightly declined from 29% in 2008 to 24% in 2017. Recent spousal violence has remained essentially unchanged. 

Other speakers to the assembly were Mr. Mark Augusto of Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation who emphasized the importance of men talking to men to advance gender equality and non-violence; Mr. Ray Justin Ventura, National Chairperson and Rodel Abenoja, Davao Chairperson of Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality, and the Youth Peer Educators organized by Plan International from Masbate and Northern Samar, who tackled the vital role of youth, especially young men in eliminating GBV. 

Edgardo Abrahan of POPCOM – KATROPA gave a very animated narration of how they organize men to be more responsible in reproductive health matters. Chapter representatives from Quezon and Aklan also shared their good practices in organizing MOVE. 

MOVE is a movement of men who committed themselves to be actively involved in the elimination of VAW. They are a group of caring, pro-active, and principled men who are dedicated to the cause of making the Philippines free from VAW. MOVE members are men from various organizations, including the government, private sector, academe, and non-government organizations.

The Male Advocates Assembly is part of the 2018 18-Day Campaign To End VAW annually spearheaded by the PCW, which started on November 25 and ends on December 12. For more information about the campaign, visit VAWFreePH2018.