March is (also) Women’s Month-A A +A
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
WHEN I was in my elementary and high school years, March was only Fire Prevention Month. Not until I went to college that I have come to know March as Women’s Month.
Since then, I have been keen to know what theme the celebration would carry for each year. In fact over the years, I have been attending rallies and parades to support this celebration.
And so on Friday, March 8, we will be celebrating International Women’s Day. In the Philippines, according to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), we commemorate this with our women based on Proclamation No. 224 series of 1988 declaring the first week of March each year as Women’s Week and March 8 as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day; Proclamation No. 227 series of 1988 providing for the observance of the Month of March as Women’s Role in History Month; and Republic Act (RA) 6949 of 1990 declaring March 8 of every year as National Women’s Day.
This year’s theme, which was obviously coined with the President’s catchphrase “tuwid na daan”, is “Kababaihan: Gabay sa Pagtahak sa Tuwid na Daan”. The theme, according to the PCW underscores women’s leadership role and participation in governance to enhance gender perspective in upholding good governance.
It is then expected that activities slated for this observance will draw attention to the importance of strengthening the mechanisms and institutions that support women and to widen the arena for their participation. The theme, as PCW underscores, is also aligned with Section 11 (Participation and Representation) and Section 29 (Peace and Development) of the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710).
Speaking of Republic Act No. 9710, not all Filipino women are aware of its provisions, some does not even know a Magna Carta of Women exists in the Philippines. So, as my humble contribution to this celebration, I will be including in my column some of the salient provisions of the law. I hope that our readers help in informing our women (and men) about this “great charter”. Happy Women’s Month!
The Philippine’s Magna Carta of Women spells out every woman’s right to:
Protection from all forms of violence, including those committed by the State. This includes the incremental increase in the recruitment and training of women in government services that cater to women victims of gender-related offenses. It also ensures mandatory training on human rights and gender sensitivity to all government personnel involved in the protection and defense of women against gender-based violence, and mandates local government units to establish a Violence Against Women Desk in every barangay to address violence against women cases ;
Protection and security in times of disaster, calamities and other crisis situations, especially in all phases of relief, recovery, rehabilitation and construction efforts, including protection from sexual exploitation and other sexual and gender-based violence.
Participation and representation, including undertaking temporary special measures and affirmative actions to accelerate and ensure women’s equitable participation and representation in the third level civil service, development councils and planning bodies, as well as political parties and international bodies, including the private sector.
Equal treatment before the law, including the State’s review and when necessary amendment or repeal of existing laws that are discriminatory to women;
Equal access and elimination of discrimination against women in education, scholarships and training. This includes revising educational materials and curricula to remove gender stereotypes and images, and outlawing the expulsion, non-readmission, prohibiting enrollment and other related discrimination against women students and faculty due to pregnancy outside of marriage;
Equal participation in sports. This includes measures to ensure that gender-based discrimination in competitive and non-competitive sports is removed so that women and girls can benefit from sports development;
Non-discrimination in employment in the field of military, police and other similar services. This includes according the same promotional privileges and opportunities as their men counterpart, including pay increases, additional benefits, and awards, based on competency and quality of performance. The dignity of women in the military, police and other similar services shall always be respected, they shall be accorded with the same capacity as men to act in and enter into contracts, including marriage, as well as be entitled to leave benefits for women such as maternity leave, as provided for in existing laws;
Non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in media and film to raise the consciousness of the general public in recognizing the dignity of women and the role and contribution of women in family, community, and the society through the strategic use of mass media;
Comprehensive health services and health information and education covering all stages of a woman’s life cycle, and which addresses the major causes of women’s mortality and morbidity, including access to among others, maternal care, responsible, ethical, legal, safe and effective methods of family planning, and encouraging healthy lifestyle activities to prevent diseases;
Leave benefits of two (2) months with full pay based on gross monthly compensation, for women employees who undergo surgery caused by gynecological disorders, provided that they have rendered continuous aggregate employment service of at least six months for the last twelve months.
Equal rights in all matters relating to marriage and family relations. The State shall ensure the same rights of women and men to: enter into and leave marriages, freely choose a spouse, decide on the number and spacing of their children, enjoy personal rights including the choice of a profession, own, acquire, and administer their property, and acquire, change, or retain their nationality. It also states that the betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 06, 2013.