As the observance of the 2017 National Women’s Month comes to a close, Senator Loren Legarda said that the Philippines can lead the global effort to achieve gender equality and women empowerment.
Legarda said that the Philippines is among the top countries that is successful in empowering women and addressing issues on gender gap.
She noted that the country has been consistently at the top tier in the gender equality index. In the yearly Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Philippines is always at the top ten countries globally. In 2016, the Report showed the Philippines closing nearly 79 percent of its gender gap, ranking first in Asia and 7th worldwide among 144 countries.
“We have crafted effective laws on gender equality and women empowerment, and the implementation of these policies are improving through the years,” said Legarda, who authored several of the country’s laws on the protection of women’s rights, including the Magna Carta of Women, Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and its expanded version, and the Domestic Workers Act.
“The Philippines can lead the global effort to close gender gap. We can share with other countries our best practices on women empowerment as well as our laws which can be used as guide by other nations in crafting policies on gender equality,” she added.
Legarda said that providing opportunities for women in education, in the workplace, in rural development, in governance and leadership roles, and ensuring that their special needs are addressed, would not only result in gender empowerment but also contribute to poverty alleviation and economic growth.
“One of the important steps is to capacitate women as part of the overall strategy on disaster risk reduction and management. Women are disproportionately affected by disasters because they have distinct needs that are not sufficiently addressed. To empower women is to reduce their vulnerability. This way, we have less victims of disasters and more leaders of resilience,” she explained.
Legarda also said that greater support must be given to women in rural communities, especially housewives, who want to explore opportunities for additional income for their families.
“Women should have access to capital for microenterprises for economic empowerment. We need to provide viable income alternatives to women and allow them to participate in livelihood and other economic activities. We should also promote and support culture-related enterprises such as weaving, which many women in rural areas and indigenous communities do. This way, we make traditional industries economically viable while also preserving our heritage,” Legarda concluded.