WITH the theme, "WE for gender equality and inclusive society", Apayao Governor and RDC-Cordillera chairperson Elias Bulut, Jr. stressed the importance of collective action in achieving women empowerment.

He said women and girls continue to face discrimination, harassment and violence which are serious issues that must addressed through the implementation of programs that promote gender equality and inclusivity.

"This is not just a women issue, it affects us all. The struggle of equality in respecting women's right is not a matter that should be left for women to do. We must all do our part," Bulut stressed.

Bulut underlined the need to change cultural attitude towards women and marginalized groups and create a culture that values diversity and inclusion. He also underscored that the quest for equality is a two-way street and "women should not be left to do all the heavy lifting, men should exert the same, if not, more effort."

In the Cordillera region, there are progress in achieving gender equality and inclusivity but much works are still needed to be done, he said.

"The road ahead is long and winding so we must not waver.. We must continue to advocate for policies and programs that promotes gender equality and inclusivity, and ensure that they are effectively implemented. We must also work to change cultural attitudes that perpetuate discrimination and inclusion, and promote a culture of respect, empathy and understanding," Bulut said.

Department of Social Welfare and Development -CAR Regional Director and RGADC Chairperson Leo Quintilla, meanwhile, reiterated that the purpose of the National Women's Month celebration is to inform and engage women and everyone to push for gender sensitive, responsive government programs and services that empower women to contribute to nation building.

Quintilla said this year's theme calls for empowerment of women and girls towards maximizing their benefit from innovation and technology. Inclusion of women and other marginalized group in technology results in more creative solutions and greater opportunities for gender equality and meeting women's need.

"The purpose of this event is also to inspire women and girls to empower themselves to take on leadership roles, opportunities, and benefits towards maximizing their full potential and enabling them to reap the fruits of greater equality. It's a recognition and celebration of women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education," Quintilla said.

He also enjoined the various stakeholders to conduct activities in line with this year's campaign including the #purplewednesdays or the wearing of purple themed attire every Wednesday of the whole month of March.

"We begin this new era of the National Women's Month celebration with the hope and ambition that WE, Women and Everyone, are all for gender equality, WE are for an inclusive society," Quintilla ended.

Also in attendance in the Kapihan are RGADC Co-Chair Ferdinand Gonzales, Commission on Population and Development-Cordillera Director Cecile Basawil, Civil Service Commission-Cordillera Director Nerissa Canguilan, PCpt. Jovelyn Awingan from the Police Regional Office-Cordillera, and Denia Tarnate and Jonalyn Amrona from the Department of Education-Cordillera. (PR)