PCW prepares to offer online GAD webinars

The Philippine Commission on Women gears up to offer its Gender and Development (GAD) seminars online, given the limitations on physical gatherings brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PCW’s Technical Services and Regional Coordination Division (TSRCD) spearheaded the dry run of the GAD webinar with its 18 newly-hired PCW personnel in partnership with its Human Resource Management and Development Section. The 8-hour session, conducted via a virtual platform in two half days on July 3 and 10, was not only informative but also interactive, with online ice breakers, open chat box for questions and comments, clap and thumbs up reactions, among others.

In the first half of the session, TSRCD’s Psyche Asencio, explained several gender-related concepts. She pointed out the difference between sex and gender, how gender roles are ascribed, and social institutions, like religion, schools, media, etc., shape our perspectives on gender. Also from TSRCD, Pent Elyria Dawn Liongson elaborated on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics. Through this, the participants learned how to differentiate sexual orientation (Who do I love?), gender identities (Who am I?), and gender expressions (How do I present/express my gender?).

In the second session, the webinar included a “power walk” where each participant was given a role and was asked to assess if given statements are applicable to the given role. The exercise showed how power can differ depending on socioeconomic status, age, environment, job, and gender.

“The lack of power can lead to discrimination and violence against women and girls”. We should all strive to be inclusive in development and ensure everybody has access to basic services and nobody is left behind,” Asencio explains.

TSRCD Chief Nharleen Santos-Millar shared basic GAD mandates, which included relevant laws and policies promoting women’s rights and gender equality, from our 1987 Constitution, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Beijing Platform for Action, and Magna Carta of Women, GAD budget, GEWE Plan, among others. She also discussed gender mainstreaming and incorporating gender in the heart of all government plans, programs, and activities.

The webinar provided the participants adequate knowledge and inspiration in fulfilling their work as advocates under PCW.

In her closing remarks, Deputy Director for Management Services Cecile Gutierrez emphasized the need to change mindsets if we are to work for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“In our work in PCW, changing mindsets is key to the achievement of gender equality. You cannot also empower if you are not empowered. The first step is for all of us to break from what social institutions have formed us. We need to reshape how people think. We need to change the societal mindset in our generation and the next generation to come. We need to reshape many sectors of our society,” Gutierrez said.

Shifting to online webinars

The digital transformation of GAD webinars came at a time when mass gatherings are highly discouraged, in line with health and safety protocols against COVID-19.

“We have been working on this online GAD webinar since May because we saw the need to adapt to the current situation. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to fulfill our mandate to spread the word on GAD. It was challenging, given the technical requirements and the major difference from our traditional seminars, but with teamwork and guidance from Dr. Rhodora Masilang-Bucoy, we were able to conduct the pilot run. As we offer this to agencies and stakeholders, we will continue to improve,” Millar said.

GAD Specialist Raymond Mazo bares TSRCD’s plans to do public offerings in August starting with Basic GAD.

“We will do a combination of live and recorded training. Other topics we will offer will be gender analysis (GA) 101, GAD planning and budgeting, formulating the GAD Agenda, and the use of GA tools like the Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines (HGDG) and the Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework (GMEF),” Mazo said.

Gutierrez commends the TSRCD for making online webinars possible.

“Thank you for braving and making a big leap in shifting our traditional methodologies to the online scheme. I know it is not easy to shift gear. It took TSRCD months to prepare and we are continuously learning the technology. This is only our dry run and we will do public offerings in the coming months to continue our GAD technical services work. For sure all agencies will be eager to join, to participate, and to be part of our online trainings,” Gutierrez said.

The PCW is set to release advisories on the list of GAD webinars and GMMS orientations that will be available online.