The Magna Carta of Women or Republic Act 9710 is a comprehensive human rights law that promotes women empowerment, calls for equal opportunities for women and men, and ensures equal access to resources and to development results and outcome in the Philippines. When it was enacted by the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives in 2009, it was a victory for many: the signing of a law that seeks to eliminate discrimination by recognising, protecting, fulfilling and promoting women’s rights.
It has been a decade since RA 9710 was passed, which presented the perfect opportunity for the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) to pose the question: What other steps has the Philippines taken to further empower women and protect women’s rights, and is it truly moving forward?
Close to 500 representatives from national and local Philippine government agencies, bilateral aid organisations, non-government organisations (NGOs), the academe, Indigenous communities, the youth sector and civil society gathered at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) last August 14 for the 10th anniversary celebration of the Magna Carta of Women, organised by the PCW.
The event was an opportunity to hear how the Magna Carta of Women, based on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), became a law; and share how the law has assisted and protected women, particularly the marginalised, such as those from Indigenous groups, rural communities, conflict-affected areas, overseas workers and the youth.
The Philippines ranks 8th in the Global Gender Gap Index Report 2018. Other milestones highlighted during the event include: the establishment of the Violence Against Women desk in every barangay; increased participation of women in decision-making bodies and processes, with the number of female judges in the lower courts growing from 28% in 2009 to 49% in 2018; and the establishment of social protection policies, systems and programs where a big percentage of beneficiaries are women.
Other commendable actions mentioned were the gender mainstreaming across the Philippine bureaucracy through the GAD Focal Point System; upholding women’s right to decent work through repeals of the Labour Code provision prohibiting women from engaging in night work; and the release of the Gender Fair Media Guidebook for media professionals, which promotes non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in media.
Republic Act 11210 or the 105-Day Extended Maternity Leave; and Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, which defines and penalises gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, work places, educational and training institutions; are two other laws benefiting women that were passed after the signing of the Magna Carta of Women.
Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the BPfA+25 Progress Report, which includes an assessment of current challenges that affect the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), a landmark agreement for advancing women’s rights and gender equality worldwide.
The PCW also presented GADtimpala (Gender and Development Transformation and Implementation through Mainstreaming of Programs, Agenda, Linkages and Advocacies) awards to government agencies for meeting the Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework.
Among the esteemed guests who attended the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Magna Carta of Women were Australian Ambassador Steve Robinson and former Philippine Ambassador to Australia, Delia Albert.
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