Legarda: Let women lead economic development of communities

March 7, 2022

In celebration of the National Women’s Month and the International Women’s Day on March 8, three-term Senator and now Senatorial Candidate Loren Legarda underscored the need to continue building on the country’s gains on women empowerment and invest in viable opportunities for women to actively participate in economic development.

“As the leading nation in Southeast Asia in closing the gender gap, we should be continuously challenged to further strengthen our women empowerment policies and initiatives. Let us be a country that not only protects women’s rights but also provides easy access to economic opportunities for all Filipino women,” Legarda said.

Legarda, who authored and sponsored landmark laws on women, such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Magna Carta of Women, the Anti-Child Labor Law, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and its expanded version, which was the first anti-trafficking law in South East Asia, among other related laws and policies, said that having these laws is not enough in strengthening the role of Filipino women as active agents of change.

“Hindi sapat na batas lang ang meron tayo, ang mas mahalaga ay naipapatupad ng maayos ang mga batas at may sapat na pondo para maisulong, halimbawa, ang mga programang pangkabuhayan na mapapakinabangan ng ating mga kababaihan. It is time for us to provide more opportunities for women in education, the workplace, entrepreneurship, rural development, governance, and leadership roles, ” Legarda said.

The three-term Senator further recognized the vital role that women play in pursuing economic development and stressed that the government should invest in women’s potential, skills, and talents by providing them better access and control over resources, income alternatives, trainings, and opportunities for start-ups and entrepreneurship that they need to achieve economic empowerment.

Over the years that Legarda has championed women’s rights, she authored and funded laws on livelihood assistance such as the Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises and the Barangay Livelihood and Skills Training Act, and national programs such as the DTI Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program, DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), as well as DOST Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST), DOLE Pangkabuhayan, among others that will assist the needs of Filipino women towards financial independence, giving them the tools to be active contributors in decision-making and nation-building.

“I have had dialogues with various women organizations and sectoral groups to understand their concerns and find ways to provide better support and assistance. Through these dialogues, their persistence and resourcefulness gave me hope that by bringing government programs on livelihood and capability building closer to them, we will be able to provide our women the avenue to maximize their full potential,” the three-term Senator said.

“I believe in the Filipino women’s capability to lead the country’s economic development given adequate investment and support. As I have always done before, I will continue to champion inclusivity in our nation-building and promote employment and economic upliftment among women. What we should be doing now is harnessing the skills of Filipino women because they have the ability to lead communities towards resilience and sustainable growth,” Legarda concluded.

Legarda has supported women entrepreneurs, particularly in culture-related enterprises such as weaving, where many women in rural areas and indigenous communities are engaged in. Among these are the TESDA Women Center Alumni Association (TWCAA), which trains women in entrepreneurship and livelihood skills; Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs) under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), which ensures that a community’s art and indigenous practices are protected and conserved; Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines, which opened doors of opportunity to weaving communities and SLTs to showcase their indigenous products and weaving traditions; and National Arts and Crafts Fair of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to promote and showcase the products of Filipino MSMEs.

In collaboration with UN Women WeEmpower Asia Philippines last year, Legarda has extended livelihood assistance under the DOLE Pangkabuhayan program to women-led organizations such as the Alyansa ng Nakatatanda sa Komunidad (ANAK) based in Quezon City for their community food bank and the Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) based in Manila that received loom weaving and sewing machines to provide alternative livelihood to migrant women returnees, trafficked victims and survivors. Whereas another women organization, the Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (NAGSAKKA Women), who are mostly 4Ps members received assistance for their small businesses under the DSWD SLP through Legarda’s intervention.***