Women’s Month: An Annual Celebration
“WOMEN’S MONTH: AN ANNUAL CELEBRATION”
By: Ira G. Pahila
University of the Philippines Visayas Gender and Development Program
Women’s Month Launching
According to the Philippine Commission on Women, this year’s (2011) Women’s Month celebration was “anchored on the importance of the Magna Carta of Women , the national translation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to the achievement of the Eight (8) Millennium Development Goals”
In Western Visayas, the University of the Philippines Visayas Gender and Development Program (UPV GDP) and Ugsad, its regional gender resource center, joined the annual International Women’s Month Celebration last March, adapting the national theme: “Magna Carta of Women, Philippine CEDAW: In support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” .
The kick-off activity on March 4 focused on UN MDGs 3-6 (Promote gender equality and empower women, Reduce child mortality rate, Improve maternal health, Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases) and on a provision of the Philippine Magna Carta of Women, which states that: “Comprehensive health services and health information and education covering all stages of a woman’s life cycle, and which addresses the major causes of women’s mortality and morbidity, including access to among others, maternal care, responsible, ethical, legal, safe and effective methods of family planning, and encouraging healthy lifestyle activities to prevent diseases”.
In her keynote speech, the feisty Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, discussed Senate Bill 2378, or the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill to a group of more than 1, 500 students, educators, government employees, local government constituents and gender advocates at the auditorium. In the highlights of her speech, she stated that: “Any thinking person will want women to be able to choose if and when to get pregnant; and to have safe pregnancies and childbirth. Adolescent girls need to be able to finish their education and have careers, without having to deal with adolescent pregnancies. Women need to be empowered to say no to sex, and to say no to sex without contraception. Reproductive tract infections and reproductive health conditions including HIV and cancers should be properly addressed… And yet, access to reproductive health information and services are virtually denied to: the poor, the less-educated, the adolescents, the rural, indigenous women, and women from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). They are the ones who have the most unintended pregnancies and maternal mortalities.
Philippine Senate Bill 2378’s main features (as expounded by Senator Santiago) are:
v Provision of emergency obstetric care
v Provision of the full range of modern family planning methods (Inclusion of family planning supplies as essential medicines in the National Drug Formulary; PhilHealth benefits for serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and obstetric complications; Provision of Mobile Health Care Service vans deliver health care goods and services and disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health; Mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education; Capability building of barangay health workers on the promotion of reproductive health; Employers’ responsibilities where employers shall provide reproductive health services to all employees; Multi-media campaign to raise the level of public awareness of the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights; and Management of abortion complications so that women are not left to die.
Issues concerning the Reproductive Health Act (filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago), and also the “Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development and for Other Purposes”, the consolidated House versions of the bill have ignited numerous debates on a daily basis between its supporters and opponents. Until now, its advocates are still continuously fighting the long battle for the Philippine RH Bill to be passed.
Other Women’s Month Activities
UPV GDP and Ugsad also conducted other activities for women’s month such as:
- “Ladies Room: an Art Exhibit
- Self Defense for Women
- Women’s Month Photo Exhibit:
- Medical Forum on Women’s Health:Lectures on Cervical Cancer, Breast Cancer and Menopause
- Wellness Program
- Gender Research Colloquium
- Screening of the Film “North Country”
The official website of the Philippine Commission on Women: www.ncrfw.gov.ph
The official website of Senator Miriam-Defensor Santiago: http://www.miriam.com.ph