NCRFW welcomes Senate approval of Magna Carta of Women

The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), the government’s machinery for women’s advancement, welcomes the passage of the Magna Carta of Women bill at the Senate of the Philippines.

“This is a victory of the Filipino women! We are delighted with this development and we would like to thank the members of the Philippine Senate for considering the united voices of women,” NCRFW Chairperson Myrna T. Yao said.

There are different provisions of the Magna Carta of Women bill passed by the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate. The bicameral conference committee is yet to meet to consolidate the bill.

Once signed by the President, the Magna Carta of Women will fulfill the country’s obligations spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) where the Philippines is a signatory. The government is duty-bound to implement the provisions of CEDAW specifically the UN CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments that urges government to enact a comprehensive legal framework for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Chair Yao noted that it is high time for the Philippine government to have a legal framework that recognizes the role of women in nation building and ensures the substantive equality of women and men.

Both the approved House Bill and Senate Bill are entitled, “An Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Women” rather than “Magna Carta for Women.” The title emphasizes the empowering framework of the proposed law, where women are seen as active participants in claiming their rights and entitlements, rather than as passive beneficiaries.

The Magna Carta of Women bill proposes for an increase in the number of women occupying third level positions in government within the next five years to achieve a gender balance.

It also contains a provision that will eliminate discrimination of women in the military, including revising or abolishing polices and practices that restrict women from availing of both combat and non-combat trainings that are open to men, or from taking on functions other than administrative tasks, such as engaging in combat or field operations. The bill stressed that women in the military should be accorded the same promotional privileges as men, including pay increases, additional remunerations and benefits, and performance awards based on their competency and performance.

This landmark bill proposes for the non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in media and film in which the government will be duty-bound to raise the consciousness of the general public in recognizing the dignity of a woman, and the role and contribution of women in the family, community and the society through the strategic use of the mass media.

The NCRFW, the bill proposes, will be renamed as the “Philippine Commission on Women” (PCW) and will be strengthened to be the primary policy-making and coordinating body on women and gender equality concerns under the Office of the President.