WOMEN: EQUALITY OF RIGHTS AND PARTNERS IN

DEVELOPMENT



Statement by

The Honorable Rosario G. Manalo

Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines


on Agenda Items Nos. 105 and 106:
"Advancement of Women" and "Implementation of the Outcome of the
Fourth World Conference on Women"


before the
Third Committee
of the
52nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly


New York

22 October 1997












Philippine Statement before the

52nd Session of the UN General Assembly on

Item 105: "Advancement of Women" and Item 106: "Implementation of the Outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women"





Mr. Chairman,

Issues relating to the advancement of women, and the prevention of violence against women, particularly situations adversely affecting migrant women workers, are priority concerns of the Philippines.

Philippine Initiatives

Since 1992, we have taken very active role in increasing international awareness to the situation of violence confronting women, particularly women migrant workers. However, despite the efforts of many countries of origin and the cooperation by a number of countries of destination, reports of violence against these women continue to be documented, ranging from exploitative terms and conditions of work, unpaid salaries, physical abuse, sexual harassment and rape, trafficking and forced prostitution and sometimes, even death.

The Secretary General in his report has stated that violence against women in general is an emerging issue, and that violence against women migrant workers in particular has become a serious concern confronting many nations today.

Therefore the Philippines underscores once more the importance of adopting two resolutions by the UN General Assembly, namely: "Violence Against Women Migrant Workers" and "Traffic in Women and Girls."

Mr. Chairman, it may be noted that fresh elements have been introduced to this year's resolution on "Violence Against Women Migrant Workers" to address new concerns and approaches to the issue. As indicated in the report of the Secretary General, there is a need to gather and analyze more information and data to adequately determine the extent and magnitude of the problem as basis for the formulation of policies and strategies. In addition, my delegation concurs with the view that strengthening of bilateral, regional and international cooperation is an important element in the global strategy to address the problem.

The Experts Group Meeting on Violence Against Women Migrant Workers hosted by the Philippines in May 1996, resulted in identifying concrete indicators to help Member States assess, analyze and formulate policy measures and strategies to prevent incidents of violence against women migrant workers.

On trafficking in women and girls, we believe that priority should be given to the updating of the 1949 Convention on the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Others. As to this Convention, we believe that forced marriages and forced labor should be covered in the concepts of trafficking and exploitation, respectively. A monitoring mechanism for the effective implementation of this Convention should likewise be included in this legal instrument.

Implementation of the Beijing Program of Action

Mr. Chairman, the Philippines has embarked on the following major strategic measures to fully implement the Beijing Platform for Action:

1. Through Executive Order 273 of 1995, the Philippine Government adopted thePhilippine Plan for Gender Responsive Development (PPGD) 1995-2025, a 30-year plan that provides for cross-cutting strategies and national programs to fully attain gender equality.

2. In 1996, Section 28 of the General Appropriations Act of the Philippines was promulgated, directing all government agencies to allocate a minimum of five (5) percent of their total budget for women-related programmes and activities.

3. Institution building mechanisms addressing women concerns were put in place, and in particular, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) was strengthened to effectively coordinate and harmonize the collaborative efforts of government, and members of civil society towards the advancement of women in the spirit of Beijing.

4. Hardly a few weeks ago, the Philippine Congress enacted, and the Philippine President signed a new Anti-Rape Law thus strengthening the fight against rape and domestic violence against Filipino women.

Mr. Chairman, early this year, the Philippines presented to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) its combined Third and Fourth Reports on the country's conformance to the Convention.

CEDAW noted the presence of a strong body of legal and administrative measures to foster women's advancement in the Philippines. Furthermore, CEDAW raised very useful recommendations that will serve as guide for the Philippines on the remaining tasks ahead.

Regional Cooperation on Rural Women

On the issue relating to the Improvement of the Situation of Women in Rural Areas, it is indeed worth noting that while the Asia-Pacific region continues to lead in the growth of global economy, a substantial number of women still live in the rural areas with a significant number in poverty. Towards the goal of freeing our nations from this condition, the Asia-Pacific Regional Steering Committee for the Economic Advancement of Rural and Island Women, (of which the Philippines is a member), met last week in Kuala Lumpur, to launch joint efforts to mobilize financial resources to fund micro- activities for our respective poor rural women.

Initiatives in APEC

Mr. Chairman, in the Philippines, we are actively pursuing initiatives in the regional and multilateral arena parallel to our national efforts at women's involvement in development.

Building on the 1996 Declaration of APEC Economic Leaders in Subic which directed Ministers to " put special emphasis on the full participation of women and youth" in APEC, the Philippines has offered to host in 1998 the first APEC Ministerial Conference on Women Concerns. Indeed, the vital contribution of women to APEC economies needs to be re-emphasized and the effort to find the means of mainstreaming women in our respective economies is crucial. Mr. Chairman, the Philippines strongly believes that there is an equal role for women to play in shaping the course of globalization. This proposed Ministerial Conference therefore, aims to move forward our women's involvement in APEC participating economies which will strengthen equitable growth, reduce poverty and promote sustainable development e economic growth, the reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development in the region.

Multilateral Initiatives

Mr. Chairman, the Philippines continues to support the actions undertaken by the United Nations system to address violence against migrant workers particularly by the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. It also acknowledges with gratitude the substantial cooperation and contribution made by UN bodies in including in their agenda, programmes that address the issues relevant to women and children such as: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

My delegation is likewise grateful for the assistance of other international bodies such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for giving serious attention and study to issues affecting women migrant workers and the trafficking of children. This December, the Philippines will be hosting again with IOM the second Regional Conference on Migrant Workers to further discuss the issues relating to these people.

Mr. Chairman, while the Philippines acknowledges the substantial action taken by the UN system and a number of member states toward the advancement of women and in the prevention of violence against women, we nevertheless wish to underscore the following:

1. UN human rights treaty-monitoring bodies should include women issues in their consideration of country reports, and in their general recommendations to address these problems.

2. Regional initiatives such as conferences and seminars on the subject should be encouraged in order that the issues may be kept alive and generate substantial progress.

3. The Philippines believes that non-conventional mechanisms such as thematic and country rapporteurs on human rights, could help recommend further measures to address these women concerns.

4. As we are on the eve of the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna +5, and in the process of reviewing the progress made in the field of human rights, we recommend that the issue on the situation of women migrant workers be revisited.

And to end, Mr. Chairman, the Philippines calls on governments to face the challenge to make the basic principle of equality of rights for men and women in the UN Charter become a worldwide reality. Let us help to make social progress benefit all peoples, not the least our women and girls.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

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Last Updated October 23, 1997 by Ruben and Alain