President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday vowed to fully implement the Magna Carta of Women, a law that seeks to eliminate gender-based discrimination as the world observed International Women’s Day on March 8.
In a statement to mark the event, the President also called for the creation of platforms to discuss best practices, gaps, and challenges in pursuing gender equality and development in local governments all over the country.
Duterte said it was his administration’s “firm commitment” to ensure women’s greater participation in society.
“Together, let us work in solidarity with all appropriate institutions to address the strategic needs of women and recognize their innumerable contributions to society,” the President said.
A self-confessed womanizer, Duterte has often been criticized for his jokes about women in his speeches.
The President has also consistently joked about how his salary is not enough because he has two families to support.
But the President has also signed a law that extends the paid maternity leave from 60 days to 105 days.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, one of the authors of the bill, said private companies need not worry about hiring female employees despite the higher costs, citing the strength of women workers and the benefits of achieving gender equality in the workplace.
“I don’t think it’s fair for companies to give preference to a male applicant even if his female counterpart is more qualified for the job, just because they want to avoid the cost of maternity leave benefit. That’s discrimination,” Angara said.
Citing a study by the International Finance Corp., the senator said bringing in more females into the workplace helps promote women’s rights and was a good business practice.
He also cited a separate study by McKinsey Global Institute which showed that investing in initiatives that support women in the workplace is a “win-win” situation as both employers and employees obtain real benefits.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III stressed the need to ensure the proper enforcement of laws meant to uphold women’s welfare, saying “well-intentioned legislation becomes toothless without proper implementation.”
Vice President Leni Robredo reminded her fellow Filipinas that women are “unbreakable” and stronger when they stand together in overcoming obstacles.
“They say women are inherently strong and resilient. But when women help other women, they become unbreakable. Truly, we are each other’s better halves, or as they say, we are our sisters’ keepers. We are always stronger together,” Robredo said in a message to the International Women’s Day Summit 2019 in Taguig City on Friday.
“We may be pressed on every side, but we are never crushed. We may be perplexed by life’s troubles, but we never get overwhelmed by despair. We may be knocked down, but we are never destroyed,” she said.
She encouraged women to stand firm against anyone, including those in leadership positions, who belittled their capabilities because of their gender.
“For as long as one woman gets threatened in the dark, raped, and blamed for it because her knees are showing, and suffer because babae ka lang naman [You’re just a woman], then we have no right to rest on our laurels,” Robredo said.
“When our leaders joke about rape and normalize abuse, shouldn’t we be alarmed?” she added, in a clear reference to President Duterte.
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