UN: Progress on gender equality remains slow

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
UN: Progress on gender equality remains slow
The report “Women’s Rights in Review” looked at how the landmark gender equality plan, the Beijing Platform for Action, is being implemented and called for greater parity and justice.
The STAR / Michael de Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — No country has achieved gender equality, according to the latest United Nations review on women’s rights.

The report “Women’s Rights in Review” looked at how the landmark gender equality plan, the Beijing Platform for Action, is being implemented and called for greater parity and justice.

There is faltering progress and hard-won gains are being reversed by rampant inequality, climate change, conflict and exclusionary politics, the report said.

The review highlights a lack of effective action to boost women’s representation in key decision-making, and warns that the plan will never be realized if all women and girls are not acknowledged and prioritized.

“The review of women’s rights shows that despite some progress, no country has achieved gender equality,” UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

Maintaining that “equality isn’t just one-quarter of the seats at the tables of power,” Ngcuka however said this was “the current reality of women’s representation, across the board.”

Men hold 75 percent of all parliamentary seats and 73 percent of managerial positions, and make up 70 percent of climate negotiators as well as most peacemaking roles.

“Only half is an equal share and only equal is enough,” Ngcuka said.

Hontiveros challenges men

Sen. Risa Hontiveros on the occasion of International Women’s Day yesterday challenged men to take part in the fight for women’s rights.

“Male privilege should be used one last time to provide a platform for issues surrounding women, then dismantled. Male privilege is also a structural issue, perpetuated by a system that keeps women oppressed,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, gender equality and family relations, said men should unlearn “toxic macho traits they have grown accustomed to for generations,” especially those that result in violence against women.

“Men need to unlearn this entitlement to women’s bodies, clothing and attention. This entitlement results in pervasive gender-based abuses directed at women,” she added.

Sexual harassment, domestic violence and rape start with the thought of ownership over women, according to Hontiveros, adding that in the Philippines, a woman is raped every hour while one in four women have experienced spousal violence.

The senator said men have the power to stop themselves from exercising such traits.

Meanwhile, Sen. Leila de Lima called for an end to misogyny and gender-based persecution, especially by those who are in power.

In her International Women’s Day message, De Lima underscored that in the Philippines, women are still attacked and persecuted because they dare to defend women’s rights and fight derogatory social norms wielded by oppressive societies.

“I have been unjustly detained for 1,109 days now. All over the world, many women human rights defenders like me continue to be oppressed and politically imprisoned for speaking truth to power,” she said.

“An increasing number of women parliamentarians like me are being subjected to misogynistic attacks by men in power,” she added.

De Lima supported the passage into law of an expanded maternity leave from 60 days to 105 days as well as penalties for gender-based harassment in public places, including online spaces.

For Sen. Francis Pangilinan, women are agents of positive change.

“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the many milestones on the road to women empowerment, and we recommit ourselves to continue the fight for the rights and equal opportunities of women and girls around the world. We sometimes wonder what the future would look like if it were led by women,” Pangilinan said.

“Half the world is women, and half the world is under 25 years of age. Imagine the potential if we invest in women and girls, when we allow them to rise and achieve their full potential – the world would be brighter, more peaceful, more prosperous for all,” he said. – With Paolo Romero


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