‘Women are pillars of Philippine economy’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday joined the world in celebrating the annual International Women’s Day by recognizing the importance of women in nation-building.

“The government recognizes the role of women and their contribution in our society. The women in our society contribute greatly to our economy,” Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

In 1990, Congress declared the month of March as Women’s Month through Republic Act 6949. The same law designated March 8 of every year as National Women’s Day, a working special holiday.

This year’s theme, as per the Philippine Commission on Women, is: “Juana, Desisyon mo ay Mahalaga sa Kinabukasan ng Bawat Isa. Ikaw Na!”

The administration of President Aquino, now on its fifth year, has always encouraged strong women participation in all kinds of programs that government has been pushing, like the formulation of decisions and national policies, Coloma said.

This has also been so in the programs from private sector initiatives based on the principles provided under the provisions of Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

In the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report conducted by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked ninth and the only country from Asia out of 142 countries surveyed regarding gender equality and promotion of women’s rights.

These are among four aspects – economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

In the survey, the Philippines was tops in terms of educational attainment and health and survival, and ranked 17th and 24th on the aspects of political empowerment and economic participation, respectively.

One of the advocacies the government is the elimination of violence against women.

“The government was also able to lower the maternal and infant mortality rate under the Millennium Development Goals and we are expecting this to improve further under the implementation of the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood Law,” Coloma added.

Meanwhile, women lawmakers will take over the House of Representatives today in celebration of Women’s Role in History Month and National Women’s Day yesterday.

Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. will temporarily relinquish his post as Speaker to Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia, who heads the 79-member women’s caucus in the House.

“The direct engagement of women in national and local movements adds flesh and blood to the great debates of our time. For at the end of the day, hungry children must be fed, the sick child nursed back to health, and leaking roofs cannot wait for the rain to stop. And these things even an unlettered mother knows more closely than the greatest statesmen,” De Venecia said.

This afternoon, Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica and Rep. Emmi de Jesus of party-list Gabriela will also sponsor a bill that seeks to ensure the fundamental equality of men and women by amending the Family Code.

Villarica chairs the committee on women and gender equality.

Former senator Helena Benitez will be given a commendation for her role in uplifting the status of women in the Philippines by virtue of House Resolution 1956 authored by De Venecia.

Benitez made history in 1969 as the first Filipina chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. – With Jess Diaz

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