Vice President Leni Robredo together with other women leaders and women’s rights advocates kicked off the International Women’s Day celebration ahead of March 8 with a virtual march spotlighting the role of women at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a virtual march organized by the development organization Oxfam Philippines together with the Philippine Commission on Women and the United Nations Women, groups affirmed the call for women’s and girl’s participation in the COVID-19 recovery plans and programs, especially of the government.
“We affirm our belief in how women from all sectors constantly make significant contributions towards an equal and just world, and even in a COVID-19 world. Even during a pandemic, we continue to push for women’s rights, celebrate women’s leadership, and strengthen our collective efforts towards achieving an equal future,” Oxfam Philippines Country Director Lot Felizco said.
“As we celebrate, we honor women who fulfilled extra-ordinary roles in the society. This is the platform to discuss and address issues that women continue to face so empowerment can be achieved. This is also a call for complete, sustainable, and inclusive actions towards gender equality,” Philippine Commission on Women Deputy Director Kristine Balmes said.
“Bigyan ng boses ang bawat kababaihan nasaan man tayo at saan mang sulok ng Pilipinas at ng mundo. Patuloy tayong mag-ugat at intindihin kung saan naggaling at mula doon at sa mga naging lesson ay magtaya,” UN Women WeEmpower Asia Country Programme Manager Lenlen Mesina.
(Let us give voice to women wherever they may be in the Philippines and across the world. Let us continue to understand the context where women are coming from and draw lessons from there.)
In her keynote address, Robredo recognized the contributions of women leaders in the local communities and those paving new paths in business, retail, and healthcare to extend help to those who needed it the most during the pandemic.
She also stressed the urgency to address the “disproportionate brunt of the impact of the impact of the pandemic” to women, citing as examples today’s reality where “mothers are breastfeeding while in zoom meetings, wives trapped in quarantine with abusers and poor women carrying a heavier load for families struggling to survive.”
“Clearly, issues of gender and women empowerment cannot be put by the wayside to service more important matters. In fact, they take on even greater urgency today.” Robredo said.
The virtual march was attended by more than 100 women representing various groups working on women’s rights, government, and the frontlines of the pandemic. Among those present were Senator Risa Hontiveros, Kaisa Ka Chairperson Atty. Virginia Suarez, and Rep. Malou Acosta-Alba.
Aside from the virtual march, Oxfam Philippines also digitally launched as part of its month-long Women’s Month celebration its briefing note “Safety in Solidarity” which spotlighted that the absence of a targeted and gender responsive national approach to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, partly due to the lack of gender-related data and statistics. These demographic data gaps mean that the interests of the most vulnerable could not be adequately championed by decision-makers who were not aware of the gendered impacts that the pandemic posed.
These insights were drawn from the larger Covid-19 Regional Rapid Gender Assessment (RGA) report of Oxfam Philippines, which is part of the inter-agency national COVID-19 RGA coordinated and led by UNFPA, Oxfam Philippines, CARE Philippines, Plan International, UNICEF, UNHCR, and UN Women.
April Ann Abello-Bulanadi I firstname.lastname@example.org I 09062822562
Oxfam Philippines Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing