Co-Sponsorship Speech: Commission on Appointments Resolution Supporting the Observance of the National Women’s Month and the Celebration of the National Women’s Day on March Eight

March 15, 2023

Commission on Appointments Resolution
Supporting the Observance of the National Women’s Month and the Celebration of the National Women’s Day on March Eight
Session Hall, Philippine Senate
March 15, 2023

Mr. President,

It is with great pleasure to co-sponsor the Commission on Appointments Resolution Supporting the Observance of National Women’s Month and the Celebration of National Women’s Day last March 8.

Proclamation No. 227, issued in 1988, declared the Month of March as the National Women’s Month to recognize the historical contributions of Filipino women to the growth and stability of the nation. Republic Act No. 6949, established March eight (8) of every year as National Women’s Day in commemoration of the struggle of Filipino women for national freedom, civil liberty, equality, and human rights.

Today, I stand before you with great pride in honoring the significant achievements of the women’s movement in the country. As far back as 1907, the first suffrage bill reached the Philippine Assembly through the efforts of an Iloilo native who organized a suffrage group, Pura Villanueva-Kalaw.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women,” Maya Angelou said.

Indeed, in 1937, Filipinas were finally granted the right to vote. Two years thereafter, Geronima Pecson was elected as the first woman Senator. Fast forward to 1973, we have had the country’s first female Supreme Court Justice, Cecila Muñoz Palma, even before the United States had one in 1981. And in 1986, the country elected its first female President, Corazon Aquino.

These accomplishments are a result of decades of women’s work to be treated on an equal footing with men in society and in governance.

We have cemented the women’s right to equality into no less than the Constitution, which provides that “The State recognizes the role of women in nation building and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.”

We have begun the fight for women’s rights and equality for a very long time, yet we still have a long way to go. Despite the Philippines’ comparably advanced position on gender equality, gender-based violence against women continues to persist in society – an issue that is intertwined with women’s economic opportunities.

The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey revealed that one in four Filipino women aged 15 to 49 has experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence by their respective husbands or partners.

A number of significant pieces of legislation directly addressing these issues have been enacted. These include the Magna Carta of Women, which I authored and co-sponsored; the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act, which I co-authored; the Anti-Rape Law; the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law; and the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act and its expanded version which I principally sponsored.

Despite these measures, there is a growing recognition that the protection promised by the laws is inadequately or ineffectively implemented.

Mr. President, we have to strengthen the implementation of these laws and ensure that they serve their purpose. And let us be a country that not only protects and defends women’s rights but also provides accessible economic opportunities for all Filipino women.

I have filed several bills to improve the country’s current laws on women’s rights and welfare. My efforts have resulted in the passage of the: Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, Magna Carta of Women, Domestic Workers Act, Expanded Maternity Leave Act, Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, among others.

Finally, I call on all my fellow women, to all the mothers who stopped chasing their dreams to focus on nurturing their children; to all the mothers who chose to continue working at the expense of spending time with and witnessing their children grow day by day just to earn for a living and to ensure that the needs and the bright future of their children are in place; to all the single mothers carrying all the parental responsibilities on their own and with no help; to all the grandmothers who extend their motherly love and care from their children to their grandchildren; to all the sisters who stand by their siblings or who act as breadwinners of the family; to all the aunties who share their provisions to their nephews and nieces; to all foster mothers who unconditionally extend their love and support to their foster children; and to the rest of the women who bring light to this world – never doubt your strengths and never belittle your capacity.

We, women, are world changers. Virginia Woolf once said, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Let us reverse the past and chart a new history. Let us make ourselves known and our voices further heard.

Thank you, Mr. President.