Legarda Highlights PHL’s Gender Equality Policies in Brussels Forum

November 28, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda highlighted the Philippines’ success in crafting and implementing laws on gender equality at the Women in Parliaments Global Forum Annual Summit on November 27 in Brussels, Belgium.


Legarda, as President Benigno Aquino III’s representative to the forum, received the Award for Leadership on Closing the Gender Gap (Winner by Region: Southeast Asia).


“Filipino women play an important role in the Philippine society. They are present in more than a hundred countries around the world, caring for children and parents not their own, and operating businesses and industries as part of the force that drives the growth of the global community,” she said, noting that 60% of Filipinos overseas are women.


The Senator said that policies promoting women’s rights are vital instruments in closing the gender gap in the Philippines.


The Expanded Anti-trafficking in Persons Act, a law she principally sponsored, ensures greater protection for women and children.


Under this law, recruitment in the guise of domestic or overseas employment for sexual exploitation, forced labor or involuntary debt bondage, recruitment of any Filipino woman to marry a foreigner, engagement in sex tourism, recruitment for organ removal, and recruitment of a child to engage in armed activities abroad are considered human trafficking.


“A number of laws have been adopted by the Philippines with the Filipino women on top of mind. These include the Magna Carta of Women, which ensures that the rights of women are guaranteed by the State; the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which provides for a gender-responsive and proactive response in lessening the impacts of disasters and climate change; and, the Domestic Workers Act, which effectively brings domestic workers, the vast majority of whom are women, within the full and formal protection of our laws and government,” said Legarda.


She also highlighted the important role of women in addressing the so-called “new norm”, stressing the capability of women to be at the forefront of disaster prevention and climate change adaptation efforts.


“In the Philippines, women have effectively been at the frontline of building community resilience. In the Municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, Cebu, one of the UN’s model communities worldwide, 90% of officers in charge of environmental protection and disaster prevention programs in each zone are women,” Legarda said.


She added that a group of women farmers in Montalban, Rizal has been practicing a farming method that can adapt to prolonged rainy season; while a group of women fisherfolk in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur reforested a total of 136 hectares of mangrove to protect their settlements from storm surges and secure additional source of food for their families.


“Women have a wealth of capacities that need to be harnessed, and we must provide them the needed support to have the confidence to lead and continue with the journey of improving the lives and securing the rights of women around the world,” Legarda concluded.