Women summits for 2019
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2019 - 12:00am

In observance  of International Women’s Day, which is tomorrow, Inner Wheel Club of the Philippines,  Global Peace Women-Philippines and Global Peace Foundation are sponsoring Women Summit  2019 at the Makati University grand auditorium. Around 1,500 women from different sectors are attending the Summit.

Well-placed women have been invited to speak on topics related to the summit theme “#BalanceforBetter- Better the Balance, Better the World”.

Sen. Cynthia Villar leads the speakers, her  message on “Women Entrepreneurship and Livelihood” is expected to  benefit the 1,500 women  from the private and government sectors invited to the summit.

 Dr. Nona Ricafort, district chair, IWCP District 380, will give the summit’s rationale, and Donna Jiao, IWCPI national president, will deliver the opening address. Welcome remarks will be given by Dr. Raymundo Arcega, OIC president of the University of Makati; Makati Mayor Abby Binay and  Makati Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo. 

Invited speakers are Gemma Cruz Araneta, who will speak on “Women’s Traditions, Culture and Heritage”; Gina Lopez on “Environment issues and concerns affecting women today”; Bai Omera Dianalan-Lukman on “Women and Peacebuilding”;  Socorro Alicia “Cory” Quirino on Women’s Health and Wellness,  and Justice Aurora Recina on “The Women’s Stand on the Current Human Rights Issues.”

The afternoon session will have as speakers Dr. Soonok Kang, vice president, Global Peace Foundation International, who will talk about “Women’s Empowerment through International Partnership and Networking”; myself, regular columnist of the Philippine STAR on “The Role of Media in Women Empowerment and Development”; Margarita Consolacion Ballesteros on “Understanding the Philosophy and Practice of ‘Balance,“ and Susan Locsin on “Development and Empowerment of the Next Generation: The Youth.”

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While the Philippines observes International Women’s Day, it also  marks the whole month of March as Women’s Month. 

As part of a series of events to formally kick off  the Women’s Month celebration, SPARK! and the Office of the Vice President, in partnership with the embassies of Austria and Sweden, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), bring together powerful women and their allies in the fight for women’s empowerment and gender equality tomorrow. They will raise the level of discourse on women’s rights at this year’s International Women’s Day Summit 2019, with the theme: “Advancing the Rights and Representation of Filipino Women.”

The summit highlights key issues with three panel discussions: “Towards a World Without Violence: Ending Violence Against Women,” “Breaking Barriers: Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment,” and “Magnifying Women’s Voices and Participation: Creating an Equal World.”

The summit, according to organizers,  is a call to challenge barriers hindering women’s  collective progress, and  provides a platform to collectively reflect on remarkable achievements made toward women’s empowerment and gender equality despite persistent discrimination in communities and workplaces. It also offers  an opportunity  to discuss innovative solutions to enhance men’s meaningful engagement to achieve gender equality.
   Ambassador Harald Fries of Sweden opens the summit and welcomes host and keynote speaker, Vice President Leni Robredo, on behalf of all partners, in her keynote speech. Ambassador Bita Rasoulian of Austria joins the third panel with Senator Risa Hontiveros, focusing on women’s empowerment in male-dominated fields. UNFPA Country Representative Iori Kato rounds up the discussions with his closing remarks.

Other notable panelists include Kat Alano of Empower for the panel discussion on Violence Against Women;  Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles of UPCWGS, and Filipina designer Zarah Juan for the panel discussion on women’s economic empowerment.

The summit will be held at SM Aura Samsung Hall, at 9 a.m. up to  5 p.m.  Registration starts at 8 a.m. Admission is free, inclusive of snacks, lunch, and a summit kit.

*     *     *

Of  great significance to women (and men)  is the passage of the cancer law which benefits cancer victims,  and of  the  legislation  which extends to 105 days the paid maternity leave benefit for working mothers. Now Congress wants to up  those  landmark laws by lengthening the paternity leave for fathers as well.

 The author of this woman-friendly House Bill 3401 is Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel who wants  to amend the paternity leave with 80 percent of their regular pay.

“We  have to give fathers at least half a month off work, with full pay, for them to be able to lend ample support to their wives in nursing their newborns, and to help mothers recuperate from childbirth,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said studies show that husbands who took longer paternity leaves “were more involved with their children and child care activities,” thus reinforcing the long-term bond between father and child.

In other countries Pimentel said fathers get up to 90 days of paternity leave with 80 percent of their regular pay.

Pimentel’s bill seeks to amend the Paternity Leave Benefit Law of 1996, or Republic Act 8187.

According to Pimentel, the  23-year-old law, authored by the late Sen. Ernesto Herrera, grants a statutory minimum paternity leave of seven days with full pay to all married male employees in the private and public sectors.

Under the law, the benefit also applies to a miscarriage, or the loss of pregnancy by the wife.

The paternity leave benefit covers every husband who performs services for, and receives compensation from another, as long as an employer-employee relationship exists between them.

The married male employee has to apply for the leave benefit with his employer, except in cases of a miscarriage.

In batting for the swift passage of his bill, Pimentel invoked the mandates of the 1987 Constitution “for the State to promote the welfare of labor, solidify the family and provide improved quality of life for all.”


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