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

Philippine Statement

Delivered by Marie Yvette Banzon-Abalos
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York

Third Committee
Agenda Item 63
Advancement of Women
64 th session of the General Assembly
13 October 2009

The New Philippine Magna Carta of Women

 Mr. Chairman,

Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving the floor to the Philippines.

I am pleased to announce to the Committee that, as a result of firm and resolute commitment of the Government of the Philippines to promote and enhance women’s welfare and empowerment, it passed in August 2009 the Magna Carta of Women, thereby carving into and enshrining in law the recognition of the role of Filipino women in nation building and the promotion of the fundamental equality of women with men.

This Magna Carta of Women seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino women, especially those in the marginalized sectors, in all spheres of life—political participation, economic development, justice, peace and security, as well as domestic and private life. It also protects women from all forms of violence and ensures mandatory training on human rights and gender sensitivity by all government agents involved in the protection and defense of women against gender-based violence. Through this law, Filipino women can now claim, and are ensured of, legal accountability from violators and offenders.

The situation of women migrant workers

 Mr. Chairman,

Let me now focus on the situation of women migrant workers.

Feminized labor migration has become a long term, enduring and structural feature in many regions of the world, with women, in the last two decades, constituting about 50% of the overseas migrant workforce. The bulk of women migrant workers continues to work in the lowest ends of the labor market, in the informal manufacturing and service sectors, with the largest concentrations in domestic work and entertainment, areas where countless women suffer gross human rights violations. My delegation is grateful that the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences, describes in her report to the 11 th session of the Human Rights Council how the current political economy is impacting on the rights of women who migrate for work. She states that the impact of the economic and financial crisis has been detrimental to women’s employment than to men’s in most regions of the world. Women migrant and domestic workers have already been among the first to be laid off. Another issue she raised is that incidents of violence are occurring in free trade or export-processing zones where many young women migrants are hired on temporary or insecure contracts.

For this reason, my delegation is committed to tabling in this Committee a draft resolution on the subject of violence against women migrant workers to bring attention to the new challenges they are facing, and to call for greater commitment from States and other stakeholders to address, in a manner consistent with international human rights standards, the problems of women migrant workers.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), has firmly acknowledged the specific vulnerability of women migrant workers. Thus, my delegation commends the completion of the Committee’s work on a General Recommendation on women migrant workers, which would be the Committee’s 26 th General Recommendation. In it, the CEDAW recognizes that three categories of migrant women are at a high risk of abuse and discrimination, to wit: 1) women migrant workers who migrate independently; 2) women migrant workers who join their spouses or other members their families who are also workers; and 3) undocumented women migrant workers. The Philippines urges all States Parties to the CEDAW to take into account this recommendation and to include in their reports their experience of the situation of women migrant workers, whether they be women migrant workers who originate from their countries, or women migrants who reside in their countries as temporary or permanent workers.

­ Gender-sensitivity in disaster and emergency response

  I now address the issue of gender-sensitivity in disaster and emergency response.

Late last month, on September 26, 2009, the Philippines was hit by a devastating typhoon that left hundreds of people dead and hundreds of thousands directly affected by flooding and infrastructure damage. The majority of those affected are women and children. Beyond the immediate effects of the devastation, there are continuing serious concerns about sanitation and the provision of safe water, food, shelter and medical relief. As we express our gratitude to the UN whose OCHA made a flash appeal to the Member States and the rest of the international community for the assistance given to the Philippines, we would like to take this opportunity to point out the importance of gender-sensitivity in the response to emergencies and natural disasters. Addressing gender needs in the context of disasters is not just a matter of protection or of a rights issue. It is also a matter of increasing efficiency, quality and sustainability of the relief initiatives.

Gender reform in the UN system

Mr. Chairman,

Finally, Mr. Chairman. My delegation wishes to touch on the gender reform in the UN system.

The post-Beijing scenario, with its emerging issues, requires a stronger and more effective United Nations to deliver on its programmatic and financial commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Philippines is therefore grateful for the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 63/311 on UN system-wide coherence, which includes provisions on gender reform in the UN. The Philippines is committed to participating actively in the discussions to advance the process so that a composite entity with both normative and operational functions can be finally established. This gender architecture should be responsive to the needs of Member States and be accountable to women’s movements. The Philippines would like to see this gender entity provide the necessary leadership in shepherding the resources for gender concerns and also ensure that the goals for which funds are set are effectively achieved at all levels.

Thank you.

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