Loren Wants Greater Protection of IP Women’s Rights

November 5, 2011

Senator Loren Legarda pushed for the improvement of programs and strengthening of mechanisms for the protection of the rights of female members of indigenous peoples (IP) groups in the country.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, said that the regional assemblies that the committee organized and her personal visits to IP communities brought to her attention the need for such initiatives.

“First and foremost, we have to educate them of their rights under the Magna Carta of Women because such knowledge will serve as their protection against abuses. I also call on my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives to allocate sufficient budget for maternal and child healthcare of IP women as many of them, especially those in far-flung areas, still lack medical attention needed to ensure good health for both mothers and babies,” she stressed.

The Senator also called on the Department of Health (DOH) to capacitate traditional birth attendants and include them in the provision of basic maternal and child healthcare services.

Likewise, she urged local government units, in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and local offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to provide sustainable livelihood support for women IPs.

Legarda also explained that women members of IP groups are suffering from the introduction of mining into their communities since they are dependent on the agri-forestry sector.

The entry of mining trucks and equipment eroded the traditional economic roles of women in these communities and cases of domestic violence become increasingly common in these mining camps.

“Indigenous women have less income and less education than women and indigenous people in general. The opportunities are few, but risks to their welfare and health are great. On the legislative front, the Senate is in the final stages of approving an Anti-Discrimination Act,” she said.

The said measure, logged as Senate Bill No. 2814, which Legarda sponsors, penalizes acts of discrimination in employment, education, delivery of goods, facilities and services, accommodation, transportation, media, in search and investigatory activities, and in political, civil, cultural and social life on the basis of ethnicity.

“This is in consonance with our desire to transform our society where each individual’s beliefs and principles are respected and everyone is given equal opportunity to achieve his full potential as a person and as a Filipino citizen. As a gift to our IPs, I am working on the passage of this measure before Christmas,” Legarda concluded.