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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Ms. Marie Yvette Banzon
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines

Agenda item 61
Advancement of Women

61st session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 10 October 2006

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee on this important discussion to assess the advancement of women.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment continue to be important pillars of Philippine development. Our work has been guided by The Framework Plan for Women, which is the gender equality framework under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The key components of the plan are: the promotion of women’s human rights; the promotion of women’s economic empowerment and the implementation of gender-responsive governance.

We are now seeing more substantial gains from our gender mainstreaming work:

- Efforts to ensure a truly enabling environment for women have been made priority. This includes the improvement of the legislative space to correct historical disadvantages of women in different aspects of life.

In June 2006, President Arroyo abolished capital punishment in the country. The sentences of 1,200 inmates on death row have been commuted to life imprisonment, including those of 27 female death convicts. Legislations dealing with violence against women and trafficking, as well as tools for prosecutors, law enforcers, social and health workers and local officials for the gender-sensitive handling of violence against women cases for have been successfully promulgated.

The Magna Carta for Women is in the final stages of review in the House of Representatives. A similar bill is to be filed in the Philippine Senate. These draft legislation strengthens the State’s commitment to affirm and intensify efforts to advance the status of women. Together, the two bills will become our Gender Equality Law.

- The government continues to make strides in the fight against women’s poverty. Almost quarters of the population and close to a third of Filipino women live below the poverty line. Rural women bear the brunt of impoverishment. The government’s flagship program in response to poverty addresses the practical needs of women. The promotion of employment and entrepreneurship for women is viewed as a critical strategy to spur economic growth. Over the past ten years, credit assistance has been extended to more than 770,000 women in the 60 poorest provinces. Coupled with credit, training in business knowhow provided by the government has helped many women become self-reliant and productive members of their communities.

- The government’s peace efforts in conflict areas in the country are benefiting women. The President has instructed local governments to implement community development programs in areas where extreme poverty makes residents, including women, vulnerable to the influence of rebels and insurgents. Filipino women are supported to become active agents for peace and development, consistent with the spirit of Security Council resolution 1325. Broader interfaith dialogue between Christian and Muslim populations, especially with the help of civil society, has also improved the climate of peace in affected regions.

- Significant gains have been made to address sex role stereotyping. For example, laws and policies, which promote the value of shared parenting and egalitarian relationships have been implemented. The Department of Education continues to ensure that school materials such as textbooks convey gender-fair values and images. The Department of Labor emphasizes the role of women in unionism and encourages women workers to become union leaders and officers. The Labor Department has also developed a system for monitoring compliance with the provisions of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law. Furthermore, it sets strict policies that ensure that Filipino women migrant workers are protected from discrimination and exploitation.

- Women’s participation in political decision-making has broadened. Women are well represented in the judiciary and executive bodies. Although the number of women in elective positions has steadily risen over the years, we continue to strive towards greater women representation, particularly in the legislature.

In the recent 36th session of the CEDAW Committee, the Philippines presented in greater detail the situation of Filipino women in its combined 4th and 5th periodic report. We thank the Committee for its important recommendations, which we will seek to implement to improve our work on gender equality.

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to turn now to briefly address the reports before the Committee on the subject of women. We appreciate the report of the Secretariat in surveying the extent of gender mainstreaming in the work of the UN, and particularly, for calling our attention to the gaps in our work. To know that we have fallen short of gender sensitivity in following up the major international summits and conferences and also, that there are bodies in the UN, including some of the main committees of the General Assembly, that have not been so gender sensitive in their work, is definitely an eye-opener. This finding brings us now to believe that, unless we make a conscious effort to ensure that gender sensitivity becomes a mandatory cross cutting element of UN reform, we may succumb to the tendency to fall short of gender mainstreaming in the process of revitalizing the UN system.

We also appreciate the completion of the in-depth study on violence against women. It is a result of very thorough work and delves into the practical dimensions of how to address these violations against women. We appreciate its discussion not only of traditional challenges that face women but also of the current and emerging challenges for women, including in the context of migration. We are carefully studying the document and are considering pragmatic ways of operationalizing the recommendations. We look to continuing our discussion with other delegations and with the UN system on how we can hasten the momentum for women’s advancement.

Thank you.

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