PCW team up with Northern Samar LGUs to advance women’s rights

Northern Samar Governor Paul R. Daza, together with staff from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and the Northern Samar Provincial Gender and Development Technical Working Group (PGAD-TWG), pose after the awarding of certificate of recognition to the Northern Samar Provincial Government for making the Magna Carta of Women Information Caravan happen. The event took place on September 17, 2012 at the Ibabao Hall, Provincial Capitol, Catarman, Northern Samar.

“You were born not to please men, you do not need to act like men to be looked up to. You have rights and you should assert them,” Northern Samar Sangguniang Panlalawigan Senior Board Member Jose F. Layon said during the September 17 Magna Carta of Women (MCW, RA 9710) Information Caravan held at the Provincial Capitol, Catarman, Northern Samar. Layon also challenged all women participants to never settle for the “standards set by men on women.”

The caravan, with support from the Office of Senator Pia S. Cayetano, was held in collaboration with the provincial government of Northern Samar. It was aimed to bring the Filipino women’s landmark law closer tot the hearts of women constituents and key implementers in the province.

The MCW mandates all local government units (LGUs) to review ordinances, policies, and programs as to their gender-responsiveness and repeal or amend those accordingly. LGUs are also required by law to develop a gender and development (GAD) Code and establish violence against women (VAW) desks in every barangay. Other salient points of the law which spell out specific roles of LGUs include protection and security in times of disasters, calamities and other crisis situations, provision of comprehensive health services, and protection of girl-children and senior citizens.

Northern Samar Governor Paul R. Daza stressed the need for strict implementation of the MCW especially on Section 11 (Participation and Representation) which promotes the incremental increase of women occupying third level positions in government and at least 40% membership in local development councils. “I have always been an advocate of empowering women in leadership positions,” Daza said.

Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Officer-in-Charge of the Information Resource Management Division Ms. Anette E. Baleda stresses that one of the bases of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW, R.A 9710) is the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The MCW is a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, promoting, and fulfilling their rights.

Budget officers from various municipalities clarified the use of gender and development (GAD) budget. PCW technical officers Anette E. Baleda and Nharleen Santos-Millar responded by saying that LGUs should appropriate at least 5% of the total LGU budget for programs and services that respond to the distinct needs of women and men. Moreover, they discussed the basic steps in formulating a GAD Plan and Budget. These are identification of gender issues, formulating programs and services that address the issues, and costing the planned activities.

Other LGU officials who attended the event are Vice Governor Ramp Nielsen S. Uy, Board Members Albert A. Lucero and Dionisio Dexter D. Galit, and mayors, vice mayors and other municipal and barangay officials. Various women’s civil society groups also participated in the MCW Information Caravan.