Women at work/Men at Kapihan Club

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2018 - 12:00am

A woman’s work is never done: at home she cooks, feeds husband and children, and fidgets over the household budget; at work, her mind strays to home and kids, then she turns to her computer or sewing machine, or gives lectures to company personnel on  how to start a business. And then she becomes pregnant: another mouth to feed. How she wishes she could have stopped bearing more children, or at least known how to space her pregnancies.

Family planning makes good business sense, said the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at the first national conference on family planning in the workplace, as it urged companies to start implementing family planning programs.

The first-ever conference on tackling the private sector’s role in supporting the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law brought together the Employers Confederation of the Philippines  (ECOP), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Commission on Population (POPCOM). Two hundred participants came from a wide variety of industries to share and learn best practices from UNFPA’s Business Action for Family Planning Access (BAFP) project.

The project, launched in 2014, encourages private sector engagement in family planning either in the workplace, community-based or as a core business.

Thirteen companies are enrolled in the program, reaching 1.4 million individuals through family planning sessions in the workplace and  in communities.

ECOP president Donald Dee commented on the need for workers to be informed of family planning practices.  In the Philippines, the entrance of new young workers has significantly affected the current working environment, Dee said. The 2015 labor force survey showed that almost half of the labor force consists of young workers. Over 42 million Filipinos aged 15 years and above  are part of the labor force, 47.1 percent of which are workers in their prime reproductive age.

It was said at the conference that one in ten young Filipino women aged 15-19 have started to bear children, with 8 percent already mothers, and another 2 percent already pregnant with their first child, as reported by the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).

Said  Dr. Dee, “As young people, particularly women, move into  wage labor they are faced with larger difficulties associated with pregnancy and later on caring for their infants  and young children. Women in the formal sector, the wage and salary workers, are sometimes ill-equipped and unable to  provide the proper health care especially during stages of pregnancy.”

Dee said “It’s important to remember that the absence of concrete workplace health program costs money.”  He added that “a sound health program including family planning program in the workplace is linked to improved performance and profitability.”

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FROM ANOTHER FRONT, distinguished senior citizens never pass away. If so chosen, they spend their twilight years assessing sensibly current political and  social issues. A number of these gentlemen do so during meetings at the Kapihan sa Klub Inc. at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City. Just before their invited speakers take the mike, like typical “old” men, they exchange jokes I can’t mention in my column, and bits about their failing knees and medications. Still and all, they have fun being with fellow voyagers.

The Kapihan sa Klub was organized on March 14, 1997, with Salvador Laurel elected as chairman, and Alfredo G. Ablaza as president.  According to  the current president, architect Ernesto Isla, quoting the club’s by-laws,  the Klub was organized as “a forum  for intelligent discussion of vital current issues of international or  national significance with the view to crystallize these issues to promote public interest and the general welfare of the citizenry.” Issues are discussed during meetings every last Thursday of the month, with distinguished speakers tackling topics that trigger off friendly repartees.

Last week’s speaker was Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who spelled out the challenges and accomplishments of DOH under his management.

 Snapshots of his message: The acceptance of marijuana for therapeutic  purposes in this country needs serious study; on having candidates for political positions undergo mental tests also need to be studied; President Duterte “is as strong as a horse,” his policies for national progress are worthy, he gets things done, his speech is “lucid and clear.”

Previous speakers were of different political colors, showing  the non-partisan attitude of the Klub members. Leni Robredo and Bongbong Marcos came one after the other. Other speakers: Secretaries Vitaliano Aguirre and Alfonso Cusi, Sen. Francis Escudero,  Sen. Migz Zubiri,  Gen. Danilo Lim, the fiery lawyer Persida  Acosta.

The May speaker was PNP chief Oscar Albayalde. An invited guest, Saeed Daof, seemed to please him when he said, we should help the PNP chief keep the peace.

Officers, trustees and members of the Klub are of high caliber, and are invited only to become members. I can name only a few of them: Retired Justices Raoul Victorino, Narciso Nario and Ruben Reyes,  architect Ernest Isla, who is in his third year as president; Atty. Alicia Vidal, Dr. Aida Cruz and Atty. Agnes Devanadera (yes, women are invited to join the Klub),  Atty.  Ramon Maronilla, Pepito Gutierrez, Com. Manolo Gorospe, Danny Concepcion, former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, Gen. Robert Lastimoso, Bishop Rufino Malitao IV, and my favorite Manila city mayor Alfredo Lim.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com.

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