DSWD Sec. Taguiwalo urges women to stand up for their rights beyond being wives, mothers

QUEZON CITY-- What we need to emphasize and make the greatest number of Filipino women realize is that women have the right to enjoy human rights as full human rights. We should not allow our rights to be reduced to the rights of wives and mothers, as these are actually quite limited and subordinate to the dominant structure of families, which remain largely feudal and patriarchal.

This was the message of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo to the participants of the Compassionate and Harmonized Actions and Networks for Gender Equality (CHANGE) Women's Summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City yesterday. It was delivered by DSWD Undersecretary for Operations and Promotive Programs Malou Turalde-Jarabe.

To further promote the rights of women, Sec. Taguiwalo reaffirmed DSWD's commitment to support women by strictly enforcing Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women (MCW), a law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women through the recognition, protection, fulfilment and promotion of their rights.

In support of the MCW, the DSWD continues to monitor an alarming number of cases of abuse and exploitation of women. The Department also implements two types of women's welfare programs, including community-based and center-based programs and services, to assist those who have been abused, Sec. Taguiwalo said.

The community-based programs and services of the DSWD are preventive, rehabilitative, and developmental programs and initiatives that mobilize both the family and the community in responding to issues of women who are in need or at risk. Center-based programs and services, on the other hand, refer to those that give alternative forms of family care by providing 24-hour residential care facilities on a temporary basis for women whose needs cannot be met by their families or relatives for a specified period.

Sec. Taguiwalo also shared some of the DSWD's new initiatives and programs for poor Filipinos, including women in difficult situations. These include the Department's support to the amendment of RA 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act; the Libreng Gamot Para sa Masa Program funded by the Office of the President; and the Bangon Project, a nutrition and hunger mitigation project in ARMM.

Organized by the Philippine Commission on Women in collaboration with the Office of the President, the CHANGE Women's Summit gathered key stakeholders on the implementation of the Magna Carta of Women and related Gender and Development (GAD) mandates.

The summit, which runs until today, primarily aims to assess how far the Philippines has gone in the implementation of the MCW and to solicit and strengthen commitments of agencies, local executives, non-government organizations, and the private sector to implement policies and programs relative to the law and other GAD mandates. It includes the sharing of good practices and the discussion of gaps and challenges in the implementation of specific provisions of the law.

Moreover, the two-day summit features relevant plenary discussions and parallel sessions that discus the strengthened implementation of the MCW. It will culminate today with a commitment setting.

Women's rights are human rights

In her message, Sec. Taguiwalo also stressed the importance of the recognition of women's rights as equivalent to human rights.

I want to affirm and reiterate the fact that women's rights are human rights. We need to remember this because often, even in the highest and sharpest discourses on human rights, there is a tendency to forget that half of humanity is female. And even in this age of supposed enlightenment on human rights, the conceptualization of human rights when unchecked are often based on male experiences. This should not be accepted as sufficient to cover all human rights, she said.

The welfare chief also noted that the deliberate neglect of government of women's rights constitutes a human rights violation. As such, she said it must not allow gender-specific violations experienced by women to continue.

In closing, the welfare chief said, Women's day should be everyday. Women's rights and issues should be supported by all Filipinos-men and women alike. Abuse against women are not acceptable and never will be. Neglect for the welfare of women should not be tolerated either. There is no excuse for abusing and exploiting women so we must all work together to promote women's rights and help each other understand their importance. When we protect and defend women's rights, we nurture a culture and a way of living that is kinder, more humane, and more compassionate.

The CHANGE Women's Summit culminated the celebration of the National Women's Month in March.

Source: Philippines Information Agency