Time to ‘elevate’ women, break gender oppression — Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 8, 2021, called on Filipinos to “elevate” women by breaking the backward mindset that fueled a culture of gender oppression and inequality.

“Let us elevate women to their rightful place in society by empowering every Filipina to break not only the barriers that have long hindered them from reaching their full potential, but also the backward mindset that fueled a culture of gender oppression and inequality,” Duterte said in his International Women’s Day celebration message.

Duterte acknowledged how international organizations, women’s rights movements, and various governments have worked together to make significant strides in addressing gender inequality by dealing with its cultural, institutional and historical roots in the past few decades.

He noted that concrete, sustainable, and inclusive actions have been taken by the government to create an environment where women’s rights are respected and their contributions to society are recognized.

However, he said there is still much to be done to completely free women from what he described as a “bondage of inequality.”

Duterte encouraged anew Filipinos to join advocacies and activities that empower women.

“I therefore encourage every Filipino to join us in celebrating the indispensable role of women in our nation’s progress by participating in this month-long celebration and supporting advocacies that seek to fight for and acknowledge the inalienable rights of women as equal partners of men,” he said.

In March last year, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo touted efforts initiated by the Duterte administration to promote women’s rights in the country.

“The Duterte administration has made significant strides to empower our women. Some of these are giving them more financial, health and medical benefits or assistance, better work opportunities and improved working conditions,” he said.

Duterte, on Jan. 9, 2017, signed Executive Order 12, which seeks to attain and sustain “zero unmet need for modern family planning” through the implementation of the Republic Act 10354, also known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act.

RA 10398 declares November 25 of every year as National Consciousness Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women And Children.

In a Palace briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also cited another two laws signed by Duterte — RA 11210 or the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law, which extends the maternity leave of female workers in the country from 60 to 105 days with full pay and RA 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, which provides proper maternal and child health care program to prevent stunted growth of children.

Under the Duterte administration, Roque said the Philippines remains as most gender equal country in Asia and 16th in the world, according to the 2020 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap report.

“So yung mga nagsasabing hindi raw po talaga tinataguyod ng Presidente ang karapatan ng ating kababaihan, sino ba ho ang Presidente na nagbigay ng ganyang distinction sa Pilipinas? Number one po tayo sa buong Asya, number 16 po tayo sa buong mundo in closing the gender gap (So those saying that the President doesn’t uphold the rights of women, name a President that gave that distinction to the Philippines? We’re number one in Asia and 16th in the whole world in closing the gender gap),” he said.

The Philippines is also the only country in Asia to make it to the top 20 in the annual index that measures gender equality, he added.

Proclamation 1172, series of 2006, declares November 25 to December 12 as the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women.

National Women’s Month is observed every March. This year’s celebration goes by the theme as “Juana Laban sa Pandemya: Kaya!

According to the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), this year’s observance highlights women’s participation in battling the pandemic as well as discusses gender issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

“It is the time to delve deep into the gender issues that emerged or become more felt during the health crisis, feature women who thrived despite the circumstances, and share support systems and government programs that address women’s issues and concerns,” PCW said. (PNA)