Philippine efforts to curb VAW lauded in UN event –Philippine Commission on Women

The Philippines is viewed as leader in terms of responding to violence against women and girls (VAWG) during the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW57) which took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 4-15. Priority theme of the UNCSW57 is “Elimination and prevention of all forms of VAWG.” The international community lauded the country’s progressive interventions for sustained prevention and multi-sectoral response to the global pandemic.

“The Philippines is committed to criminalizing VAWG and its various forms,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said. She led the Philippine Delegation to the UNCSW57. Deles also stressed that the Philippine accomplishments, such as having nationwide women and protection centers and units in police stations and hospitals, women friendly spaces in evacuation centers and safe houses for women migrant workers, are in line with the pillars of the global framework to eliminate VAWG.

Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa moderated the March 11 side event entitled “Domestic workers count too: ensuring protection, upholding rights.” It was hosted by the Philippine Government with support from UN Women and the International Trade Union Confederation.

“In many countries, domestic workers are excluded from national labor legislation and social protection schemes and are denied the right to form or join a trade union,” Verzosa said adding that domestic workers are “more vulnerable” to maltreatment, exploitation in the form of low or no wages, excessive and long hours of work, no weekly day of rest or holidays, and violence and physical and sexual abuse.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are around 50 to 100 million domestic workers worldwide, 80% of which are women who are mostly migrants and children. Domestic work accounts for 7.5 per cent of women’s wage employment worldwide. Despite these, Verzosa noted that only Philippines, Uruguay, Mauritus and Italy have ratified the ILO Convention 180 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers which provide minimum standards to ensure national labor laws protect domestic workers.

On the March 7 side event on the Role of Data in Addressing VAWG, Verzosa shared the country’s experience in developing the VAW Documentation System (VAW DocSys). The web-based documentation system, according to Verzosa, is secure, seeks to harmonize collection of administrative VAW data, allows relevant agencies from national to local levels to work together to ensure “effective” coordination and consolidation of data from various service providers, and uses VAW-related data for policy making and programming. The international community lauded the Philippines for the “innovative approach” of the VAW DocSys.

Other members of the Philippine Delegation include officials and officers from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and several civil society organizations. They attended other side events and panel discussions where they shared the Philippine experiences in responding to gender based violence, HIV and AIDS. Challenges in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and setting the agenda for 2015 and beyond were also discussed in the UNCSW57.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan and the members of the Philippine Mission to the UN led the March 8 International Women’s Day Activity for the Philippine Delegation. He committed to sustain the Men Opposed to Violence Against Women Everywhere (MOVE) advocacy in New York City and in the UN. Ambassador Cabactulan, together with male staff of the Philippine Mission and male members of the Philippine Delegation to the UNCSW57, pledged to never commit, condone nor remain silent about VAW.