Philippine Daily Inquirer / 2:11 AM March 20, 2021
Allow me to take a breather from our usual topic on housing and real estate matters, and dedicate this space to salute and honor all women in the world, especially all “Juanas,” in celebration of the National Women’s Month.
These are the women who lead and support us, not only as members of DHSUD family or the government workforce, but as wives, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, mentors and friends—women who give us strength, inspiration and direction, serving as our anchors, guide, partners and the wind beneath our wings.
This yearly celebration, spearheaded by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), serves as a tribute, a platform and a call to action that highlights the extraordinary roles of ordinary women in the society as trailblazers and harbingers of change. It is a venue to discuss and address the issues that women continue to face so empowerment can be fully achieved. At the same time, this campaign is also a call for concrete, sustainable and inclusive steps toward gender equality.
Anchored on the multi-year theme, We Make Change Work for Women, this year’s celebration centers on the role of women in our collective battle against the COVID-19 pandemic with the theme, “Juana Laban sa Pandemya, Kaya!”
This says a lot about the significant and valuable contribution of women in bringing our nation together toward a holistic recovery from this unprecedented health crisis. This is in fact in line with the state’s policy, as enshrined in the Constitution, stating the role of women in nation-building.
Women’s month in retrospect
Our celebration of women’s month actually started 33 years ago when the late President Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation 224, declaring the first week of March of every year as Women’s Week, and March 28, 1988, and every year thereafter, as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day. In 1990, Republic Act No. 6949 declared March 8 of every year as a special working holiday known as National Women’s Day. The Philippines then became the first country in the world to legislate a National Women’s Day.
Thirty-three years after, we are happy to note that the Philippines is among the top countries in Asia in terms of closing the gender gap, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 of the World Economic Forum. The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 measured countries on their progress toward gender parity in four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.
We have closed 80 percent of the Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, with women outnumbering men in senior and leadership roles, and in professional and technical professions. We are one of only four countries to achieve this feat. At DHSUD, there are also more women staff members than men.
The country also ranks fifth on the indicator assessing gender wage equality. We ranked 16th out of 153 countries with the narrowest gap between men and women. Notably, we remain the only Asian country that made it to the Top 20 tier. Our goal is to close the gender gap even further, and make this a reality to all Filipinos, particularly those in the marginalized sectors.
Women in communities amid the pandemic
This year’s theme is timely and relevant. It highlights women’s participation in battling the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses gender issues worsened by the health crisis. In observance of this theme, we believe that it is time to delve deeper into the gender issues that emerged during the health crisis—feature women who thrived despite dire circumstances, and share support systems and government programs that address women’s issues and concerns.
For DHSUD, we shall work to empower our homeowners’ associations in establishing mechanisms in addressing domestic issues concerning women and children. We must build sustainable households and communities that are conducive to enabling women perform their roles in their homes and social environment. Empowerment should start from the core of their shelters where they hone their personas to become better at their chosen path and extend this to the other members of their families to become better citizens of our country.
We, at DHSUD, shall ensure that our programs and activities contribute to the thrusts of the PCW of achieving gender equality and women empowerment. Hence, this year’s celebration is a declaration of DHSUD’s GAD policy to promote and implement housing and urban development policies that will uphold, protect and empower women, and mainstream gender equality and development.
Like any other societal issue, the quest for gender equality and women empowerment can only be achieved and will only be successful when all sectors work together. This is not a battle of sexes but a collective fight for a more peaceful and humane environment that respects and celebrates differences and enables everyone, regardless of gender, to attain his or her full potential. It is therefore our shared responsibility to contribute to this agenda, and help build a society that encourages, supports and empowers especially women.
Let us keep pushing until we shatter gender stereotypes, end discrimination and violence against women and achieve gender equality. Let us not stop fighting until we live in a world that is just, fair, inclusive and conducive to sustainable development.
A toast to all Juanas sa tahanan at pamayanan!
This article is first published in Philippine Daily Inquirer