UN Women joins hands with key partners in the Philippines
Date: Thursday, September 10, 2015
Author: Montira Narkvichien
On 9 September, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka met with officials from the Philippine Commission on Women and the Department of Foreign Affairs to discuss the shared agenda of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The Executive Director emphasized the importance of not only quantitative but also qualitative and substantive progress in achieving gender equality. Gains are notable, with the Philippines ranking in the top 10 most gender-equal countries in the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report of the Global Economic Forum. However challenges remain, highlighting the need for closer collaboration among government, non-governmental organizations and other civil society partners.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka commended the Government’s efforts to achieve gender equality, in particular the Commission’s leadership and continuing initiatives on gender mainstreaming, ending violence against women, and women’s economic empowerment, as well as the acceptance by President Benigno Aquino III of the invitation to be a HeforShe Global Champion.
She reaffirmed UN Women’s commitment to support the Government in its work to end persisting gender inequalities and to promote women’s human rights through its work in the Philippines. The meeting was capped by a joining of hands to symbolize a pact to end gender inequality by 2030.
Quezon City Mayor Joins UN Women’s HeForShe and Safe Cities Global Initiatives
During her visit to City Hall, the Executive Director welcomed Quezon City to UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative, which now spans 23 cities. She was welcomed by Mayor Herbert Bautista who led city government officials in also joining the HeForShe initiative.
“With the city’s continuing thrust to become gender-fair, we are making sure that we create a safe city for everyone,” the Mayor said.
“When you partner with us, you are also participating in the global effort to protect the rights of women,” said the Executive Director.
Meeting with civil society organizations
Noting that civil society is one of UN Women’s most important constituencies, the Executive Director opened a safe space dialogue with 11 rights activists working on various women’s and gender issues in the Philippines. She underscored that UN Women is the only UN agency that was brought to life by civil society.
Participants observed that women facing multiple discrimination, such as those with disabilities, different sexual orientation or gender identity, are not addressed in the proposed new Sustainable Development Goal 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. The Executive Director thanked Philippine civil society organizations for constantly challenging barriers to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
High-Level dialogue; “Economies that Work for Women”
The Executive Director also delivered a keynote speech on “Economies that work for women,” highlighting key messages from UN Women’s flagship report “Progress of the World’s Women: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights”. It was an opportunity to engage the wider public in a strategic discussion. Joining the panel were Maria Gloria A. Tango, Assistant Secretary, Labour Standards, Social Protection and Internal Affairs for the country’s Department of Labour and Employment; Jeannie Javalosa, President of ECHOsi Foundation (a national NGO that teaches sustainability to empower marginalized groups, including women); and Professor Marina Durano, of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
The dialogue concluded an agenda-packed second day of the Executive Director’s first visit to the Philippines, during which UN Women also announced that it will undertake a collaborative regional study on gender equality and women’s rights, along with the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Marilen Soliman, Maricel Aguilar and Katherine Belen of UN Women Philippines contributed to this article.