Editorial: Focus on rural women

THURSDAY, March 8, 2018, is International Women's Day, a yearly celebration to reflect on progress made on recognition of women rights and to call for change to existing gender bias.

This year, the world's eye is focused on rural women and the continued inequalities and discrimination they are subjected to worldwide.

Rural women, especially in indigenous peoples communities do the farm work, house work, and just about every work there, while men just tend to the farm animals and cut some firewood, if ever. Most rural women take it upon themselves to attend to their reproductive health, as well, because men seem not bothered that another mouth will have to be fed due to unprotected or unscheduled sex.

And yet, rural women suffer the inequalities, they rarely own the land, and if ever they work as farm laborer, they receive less than their male counterparts.

"While the global pay gap between men and women stand at 23 per cent, in rural areas, it can be as high as 40 per cent," the United Nations page on the IWD reads. "They lack infrastructure and services, decent work and social protection, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change."

Thus, as March 8 approaches, let us and our elected leaders reflect, how have we contributed to ensuring that women get their just compensation for their contribution to the rural economy, and every rural family?

True, we have the Women Development Code, but has this already leveled up to the economic contributions of women or is it still tied to the level of exploitation and violence? There has to be some development there, where the issues on hand are no longer about the basal concerns as the ordinance having been passed in 1998. Not that we're saying that violence against women and exploitation should no longer be a concern, we're saying that by this time, measures and policies should have already been in place and response to these issues should already be quick and comprehensive as we focus on the greater role of women on nation-building.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have two specific goals that focuses on the woman: No. 4 - Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning, and No. 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

By this time, policies, rules and mechanisms should already be being worked on, especially for the rural women and girls, that they be part of the inclusive growth that the Philippine government is working toward.
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