PCW presents 9 gains as nation celebrates 9th anniversary of Magna Carta of Women

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) led the celebration of the 9th anniversary of the passage of Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) on August 14, 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Around 350 women and men from national government agencies, local government units, state universities and colleges, non-government organizations, academe and civil society groups attended the celebration, where the status of the implementation of the MCW, the situation of rural women after the law’s implementation and the updates on the GAD Budget Policy were discussed.

In her opening message, PCW Chairperson Rhodora Masilang-Bucoy noted how Filipinas take pride in the enactment of this significant law that eliminate patriarchal vestiges and enshrine women’s rights. She emphasized, however that legal changes are not enough, and more concrete actions must be taken by the government and other stakeholders to produce tangible effects in the lives of women and men down to the grassroots level.

“There are many substantive provisions that we have to translate into actual programs that will address the poverty of women in the agricultural sector, respond to their continuing clamor for genuine agrarian reform and for their social inclusion in terms of provisions for affordable decent housing, improved and accessible health care, sexual and reproductive health services in all the life cycle of women, decent wages and livelihood,” said Bucoy.

In her Keynote Address, Civil Service Commission Chairperson Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala boasted that Philippine legislations, including the MCW, serve as models for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors in pursuing GAD initiatives in their countries.

“We have also expanded our sphere of influence by pushing for the creation of the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and the Protection of Women’s Rights and at the same time we have pushed for integration of gender perspectives in disaster management and humanitarian distance including the framework for social protection in the region,” said Chairperson Bala.

“Our vision of reaching out to every Juana goes beyond just the implementation of the Magna Carta of Women. We need to internalize the true spirit of the MCW by ensuring that no woman or girl is ever left behind. Indeed, making MCW real in the lives of Filipino women remains a formidable challenge,” she added.

Status of MCW implementation

PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa outlined the top nine accomplishments relative to the implementation of the MCW which is dubbed as the “Bill of Rights of Filipino women.”

First on the list are the enhanced policies, programs, facilities and services to ensure protection of women against all forms of violence.

Citing a report from Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), 90% of the total 42,044 barangays nationwide have established their Anti-Violence Against Women (VAW) Desks. However, only nine percent of the total number of barangays have been assessed on the functionality of their VAW desks.

The MCW mandated all barangays to establish VAW Desks which shall respond to cases of VAW in their communities. Functions of the Barangay VAW Desk include the issuance of barangay protection order (BPO) against VAW pertrators, record the number of gender-based violence handled by the barangay, coordinate with and refer cases to government agencies and non-government organizers, and lead advocacies on the elimination of VAW in the community, among others. 

Second, national policies, laws and plans on disaster risk reduction and management have been integrated with gender issues. Because of this, the establishment of women-friendly spaces and distribution of hygiene kits were included in the plans to ensure protection and security of women in times of disaster, calamities and other crisis situations.

Third, women’s equal representation and participation in decision-making bodies and processes got an added boost with the introduction of temporary special measures under the Magna Carta of Women. To close the gender gap in leadership and decision-making positions, the MCW provides that gender balance shall be pursued in professions and services working on the protection and defense of women from gender-based violence.

Gender balance is also being pursued in third level positions in government while increased participation of women leaders is advocated in development planning bodies at the local level and in various national policy-making bodies and/or mechanisms with sub-national and local counterparts.

Increasing trend of women in elective positions is now being seen. A report from the Commission on Elections revealed that women elected in the lower house slightly increased from 60 seats in the 2013 National Elections to 68 seats in the 2016 elections.  Same trend has likewise been seen in the barangay as women elected in Punong Barangay positions increased from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 20.4 in 2018.  

Fourth, the elimination of discrimination in education, scholarship and training is embodied in the provisions of revising gender stereotypes and images in educational materials and curricula as well as in the prohibition of discriminatory acts on women faculty members and students who got pregnant outside of marriage.

While this was a hot button issue among higher educational institutions, this prohibition clause in the MCW paved the way for mainstreaming gender and development concerns in the higher education sector, led by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). This clause serves as a deterrent for public and private schools and higher education institutions in discriminating women faculty members and women students due to pregnancy outside of marriage.

One of the country’s milestones in our pursuit of equal access and elimination of any form of discrimination in education. Scholarships, and training is the enactment of RA 10931 or an Act promoting universal access to quality tertiary education on August 3,2017. This law significantly provides for free tuition and other school fees in SUCs, LUCs, and State-run technical-vocation institutions.

Together with this are the issuances of related policy guidelines such as the Gender-Responsive Basic Education Policy in 2017 or DepEd Department Order No. 32, s. 2017 which ensures the integration of gender equality, gender equity, gender sensitivity, non-discrimination, and human rights principles in the provision and governance of basic education; the Implementation of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education in 2018 or DepEd Department Order No. 31, s. 2018; CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 01, series of 2015 which establishes the Policies and Guidelines on Gender and Development in the Commission on Higher Education and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). This policy paved way for the establishment of GAD Focal Point system or GFPS, and the integration of gender equality in higher education’s curriculum development, research, and extension programs, among others.

In line with the provisions of the MCW relative to women and media, the Media Gender Equality Committee (MGEC) relaunched the gender fair media guidebook (GFMG) which is a practical reference for the media in recalibrating their practice to promote gender sensitivity in all their core processes including conceptualization, creation, presentation and distribution of media products. It provides the current media landscape on reporting women’s situation, the relative laws on women’s rights and practical tools to evaluate the gender sensitivity of their media content.Fifth, compliance to health standards addressing the practical gender needs of women employees and women workers has been encouraging over the years. MCW Section 25 provides for two support services that will enable women to balance their family obligations and work responsibilities including, but not limited to, the establishment of day care centers and breast-feeding stations at the workplace.

The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 calls for the setting-up of lactation stations or breastfeeding areas in public and private offices, as well as health and non-health establishments like LGUs, airports, terminals and malls are now gaining ground. With the promotion of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding on the overall health of the mother and her child from government, civil society and private organizations and the growing number of support groups for breastfeeding, we will see more breastfeeding facilities established and made operational in public and private workplaces.

Another milestone in the implementation of the MCW is the passage of Republic Act No. 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) law. In November 2017, the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) on contraceptives was lifted. 

Sixth, on the right of women to decent work, the repeal of the work night prohibition is one of the major accomplishments under the implementation of the MCW.

The Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for Transformation of Women (GREAT Women), a convergence effort funded by the government of Canada to create an enabling environment for women microentrepreneurs, is likewise anchored on this MCW provision.

Seventh, laws relative to social protection of women have also been passed after the passage of the MCW. These include the Domestic Workers Act or “Batas Kasambahay” which promotes the welfare of domestic workers and the “Anti-Mail Order Spouse Act” which provides for the stronger measures against unlawful practices, businesses and schemes of matching and offering Filipinos to foreign nationals for purposes of marriage. Government flagship programs like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) have integrated GAD concepts. 4Ps, for example, has successfully kept children in schools, promoted health and well-being among family members and enabled women beneficiaries to become informed and empowered. 

The eight milestone after the passage of the law is the enactment of policies relative the peace and development. This includes the development of National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAP-WPS) and the OPAPP & PCW Joint Circular 2014-01, or the Guidelines on the Integration of NAPWPS-WPS Programs, Projects and Activities in the participation, and protection from all forms of violence Right to equal opportunity and non-discrimination in social and economic activity and public service, regardless of class, creed, disability, gender and ethnicity.

Capping the list of nine accomplishments are the institutional mechanisms in place for mainstreaming GAD in the bureaucracy. As of May 2018, there were already 308 government agencies which updated their GAD Focal Point System. In addition, the PCW also re-certified five local learning hubs and currently has 132 Gender Resource Pool Members who help the Commission in further promoting gender mainstreaming and implementation of the MCW down to the barangay level.

Analysis of GAD budget utilization

Another highlight of the activity was the situational analysis of the Philippine Government’s GAD Budget Policy shared by Ms. Lucy Lazo, GAD consultant of the Investing in Women Initiative funded by the Australian Government.

First introduced in 1992 through Republic Act 7192, and included in the annual General Appropriations Act since 1995, the GAD Budget Policy mandates all government agencies to allocate at least five percent of their agencies’ total budget to programs and projects to address women’s issues. The was reinforced by the MCW which called for the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of and budget utilization for GAD Plans and Programs.

According to Lazo, there has been an increase in the submission on GAD Plans and Budget from various government agencies indicating their willingness to abide by the GAD Budget Policy. More agencies are likewise compliant with five percent budget allocation. However, utilization can go beyond the mandated five percent and that the PCW faces challenges in exercising its oversight functions to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in gender budgeting.

As she outlined the ways on how the GAD budget helps in uplifting the lives of Filipino women, Lazo shared strategic recommendations to enhance GAD Budgeting, such as:

  1. Shift to a results-oriented Term Plan;
  2. Sustain Capacity Development among GFPS and PCW Staffers;
  3. Build the body of knowledge and evidence base to demonstrate the impact of the gender budget;
  4. Sustain advocacy within the agencies, especially with the top leadership;
  5. Ensure the value addition of PCW in its oversight function by leveling up PCW monitoring from mere compliance to analysis and evaluation;
  6. Foster knowledge sharing;
  7. Mobilize other stakeholders in gender planning, budgeting and auditing; and
  8. Enhance gender auditing.

Recognition Rites for Student Winners of National Photo and Poster-Making Contest

As part of the 2018 National Women’s Month Celebration in March, the PCW in partnership with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office launched a photo and poster-making contest. The contest aimed to help the Commission in shaping public perception and raising awareness on the vital role of women in society through visual arts. It called for entries that capture the essential representation of Filipino women and girls as potent agents of positive change in the society.

A total 84 posters and 50 photos from all over the Philippines were received by PCW when the call ended on April 30, 2018. Entries were pre-screened and shortlisted by the commission based on the contest mechanics. This process trimmed down the finalists to 20 poster and 29 photo entries, which the Commission announced through its official social media accounts on June 19.

On the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the passage of the MCW, the PCW awarded the winners of the said contests. Each of the 20 winners received a plaque of recognition and P20,000 cash prize.

Below is the list of winners for both poster-making and photo contest:

Poster-Making Contest

1.) Jahleen Rose A. Escala of CIIT College of Arts and Technology Quezon City
2.) Miguel Emmanuel D. Borbor of the First City Providential College San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan
3.) Mayshelle Janzenne A. Reyes of the Ramon Magsaysay High School, Cubao, Quezon City
4.) Chester Aaron E. Sia of the iAcademy Tondo, Manila
5.) Karen Abegail D. Honrado of Regional Science High School for Region VI Balete, Akla
6.) Ainer Brean B. Padrigo of Tiong Se Academy, Sta. Cruz, Manila
7.) Jeiary Michael D. Regala of Ramon Magsaysay High School (Manila) Sampaloc, Manila
8.) John Jeremy G. Bondad of First City Providential College Caloocan City
9.) Kristine D. Villena of Batangas Province High School for Culture and Arts – Lemery Batangas
10.) Desiery K. Antonio of Pines City Colleges – La Trinidad, Benguet

Photo Contest

1.) Oslyn V. David of Pangasinan State University – San Carlos Campus San Carlos City, Pangasinan
2.) Lezel Vera D. Malazarte of University of the Philippines – Minglanilla Cebu, Cebu City
3.) Pamela Louie T. Javillonar of CIIT College of Arts and Technology- Antipolo City
4.) Dark Kene C. Calivoso of Cebu Technological University Ronda, Cebu City
5.) Joshua A. Huab of Access Computer Colllege- Antipolo City
6.) Andrew A. Orense of Colegio de Porta Vaga – Imus City, Cavite
7.) Sharina K. Ramirez of Institute of Creative Computer Technology Colleges – Antipolo City
8.) Joseph G. Gerolia of Institute of Creative Computer Technology Colleges – Teresa Rizal
9.) Michelle Marie T. Ajoc of Institute of Creative Computer Technology Colleges – Antipolo City
10.) Neilmer Cabacungan of Cagayan State University- Sanchez Mira Campus – Luna, Apayao