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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
Agenda Item 98: Advancement of Women
On behalf of the Philippine delegation, I would like to extend my warm congratulations to you and the bureau. My delegation is confident that our discussions will provide us with an accurate picture of the current situation of women in the world and the progress we have made in advancing our goals for all women, notably those contained in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The Philippines associates itself with the statement made by Qatar on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and by Malaysia, on behalf of the ASEAN.
Consistent with our conviction and policy to promote human rights for all, the Philippines is deeply committed to the goal of gender equality. Equally important to emphasize, however, is that for a developing country like ours, the path to gender equality is likewise the road to development and the eradication of poverty, which is the most pervasive manifestation of the transgression of human dignity and human rights. In view of this, the Philippine government mainstreams gender issues in all areas as called for in the Beijing document and in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. My delegation thus welcomes the preparation by the Commission on the Status of Women for the comprehensive review and appraisal of the commitments in Beijing and its close linkage with the 2005 review of the MDGs whose goals of promotion of gender equality, empowerment of women and improvement of maternal health actually intersect with the goals of Beijing. Because the other MDGs are all inextricably linked to the advancement of women, the Philippines fully subscribes to a comprehensive gender approach to all MDGs and not only to those goals that explicitly deal with the women agenda.
As a key plan of action, the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development, the thirty-year - national strategic plan for women, was further translated into an operational plan. The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, in collaboration with government agencies, NGOs and the academe, oversees the implementation of commitments in three major areas: promotion of economic empowerment; protection and fulfillment of women’s human rights; and promotion of gender-responsive governance.
Poverty is still the biggest concern confronting most Filipinos, and indeed, Filipino women, especially in rural areas. To respond to this challenge, the national program to eradicate poverty includes, as a major pillar, strategies and policies to address the development concerns of women. As an example, of the 864,965 beneficiaries to the government’s micro-finance and micro-credit efforts, approximately 98% are women. The increased investment in female children’s education, coupled by increased parental appreciation of educating daughters, has led to high literacy and educational achievements of women. Ninety four percent of Filipino women are literate and they continue to outnumber the men in terms of enrolment in school.
Violence against women remains a major obstacle to advancing the status of women. Violence against women is a human rights issue because it is inconsistent with the dignity of the human person and is a gruesome manifestation of inequality. However, it is also a development issue because it constrains human development, economic growth and the productive capacity of women.
The inexorable forces of globalization, characterized by the increased mobility of capital, technology and people, have been abused by certain groups to propagate new forms of violence against women. In particular, the occurrence of trafficking of women and girls has increased in frequency and breadth, and its operations, just like those of other transnational crimes, have become sophisticated and more challenging to detect and combat. To highlight this important and alarming issue, the Philippines will again shepherd the resolution on trafficking in women and girls and hopes to strengthen the resolution’s role in facilitating a better understanding of the issue and forging closer cooperation among countries to eliminate the problem and ensure the protection of victims and potential victims.
In May 2003, the Philippine Congress passed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. This is a comprehensive law that institutes policies to eliminate trafficking in persons, especially women and children. It establishes necessary institutional mechanisms to protect and support trafficked persons; and sets sanctions and penalties to traffickers, those who facilitate trafficking, and those who buy and engage the services of trafficked persons for prostitution. An inter-agency Council against Trafficking has been tasked to monitor and report on its implementation.
A second piece of legislation specifically on the subject, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, was also passed early this year. This law also protects women and children in the context of marital, dating or common law relationship. The law provides for the issuance of “protection orders” to stop violence and prevent recurrence of future violence.
At the international level, in addition to the international instruments addressing the situation of women, the Philippines has ratified the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW in August 2003.
The Philippines also scored a breakthrough in enlisting
the support of men in helping curb violence against women. The Government
conducted a forum on “Men Speak Out Against Violence Against Women”
and launched a white ribbon campaign that was led by officials in the
executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and by representatives
of civil society.
Women’s participation in decision-making and governance is a major determinant of the level of success in gender equality. Recent efforts led by the national machinery on women highlighted the participation of women local leaders in ensuring gender-responsive governance. A national summit of women local chief executives and legislators brought together 200 women leaders from all over the country to strategize on issues relating to gender mainstreaming, local legislation and women’s participation and representation in local governance. Bills have been filed in Congress to enable more women to participate in politics and governance. A women’s empowerment bill proposes a minimum of 30% representation of women in all decision-making positions of the government while another one on gender balance in political participation and representation aims to progressively increase women’s participation in elective and appointive positions to a 50:50 ratio by the year 2012.
Latest figures suggest that women have accounted for about 36% of total career executive service positions in government and since the adoption of a new law on women’s participation in law enforcement, the percentage of women police officers has been rising year after year.
The Philippine Government continues to improve its strategies to enhance gender responsiveness of institutional mechanisms by developing tools, handbooks and seminars to build capacity in carrying out gender mainstreaming, including in budgeting processes.
In conclusion, while we celebrate the milestones in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, we have to be cognizant of the need to yet improve the effectiveness of our response to existing and emerging challenges. We need to ensure that our actions not only target the most pressing concerns of women but that they also reach out to all groups of women, especially those in particularly difficult conditions, if we are serious about achieving the full realization of women’s rights and their equitable and sustainable development.
We eagerly look forward to the high-level event in 2005 to commemorate the Beijing goals and to the opportunity to learn the lessons from our successes and challenges.
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