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Women’s Month: Oxfam Pilipinas calls for gender equality, feminist financing

Oxfam Pilipinas kicked off its campaign called “Dapat All Equal,” which will run from 2024 to 2027 in Eastwood Mall in Quezon City on Friday.

Photo: Oxfam Pilipinas

Oxfam Pilipinas, in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women and Eastwood City, welcomed National Women’s Month with the launch of its gender equality campaign calling for increased public and private sector financing to close gender gaps. 

Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo emphasized the importance of the collective efforts among government, private sector, and civil society organizations in building a gender-equal, inclusive, and safer society and future for all, especially for women and girls in all their intersecting and diverse identities.

“Advancing gender inequality is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role to play to shift mindsets, promote gender-responsive and inclusive programs, remove the barriers to gender equality, and increase investment in programs and services to close the gender gap in the country,” Geronimo said.

According to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), while the Philippines maintains its status as the leading Asian country in narrowing the gender gap and ranked 16th out of 146 countries in gender parity, political empowerment remains low despite the country’s progress in addressing gender inequality.

During the program, Geronimo also emphasized the need to address the barriers in women’s economic empowerment by valuing and investing in unpaid care and domestic work, universal social protection for all, and support for women-led enterprises and community-based livelihoods.

Data showed that a lot of women are still being excluded from economic opportunities and are burdened by domestic work and unpaid care. Oxfam study reveals that women spend up to 13 hours a day doing unpaid care and domestic work compared to eight hours for men.

Geronimo also stressed the call to increase public and private investment in live-saving gender-based violence (GBV) prevention programs and services by expanding programs and services for the prevention of GBV as well as strengthening referral pathways in normal times and during humanitarian crises.

Philippine Commission on Women’s Deputy Director for Operations Ma. Josefina Balmes, stressed in her speech that all of gender stereotypes and societal expectations on women and men can be potentially harmful but one of its most direct and vicious impacts is through violence against women and girls. She noted that when society allows this violence to happen, it makes it even more difficult for women and girls to discourage women and girls from seeking help.

There is also a need to establish a multi-sectoral approach to the establishment of an enabling social environment that prevents child marriage as part of the implementing rules and regulations of the law prohibiting child marriage.

The Philippines also ranked 12th with the highest rate of child marriage in the world, with one in every six girls getting married before the age of 18.

In addition, as the country continues to face the worsening climate crisis, the most marginalized and vulnerable sectors need to participate in finding climate-resilient solutions and to achieve a just energy transition.

Women often lack capital and often do not have financial literacy, making them extremely vulnerable to the compounding effects of climate change, conflict, displacement, and food insecurity.

Office of the Civil Defense Spokesperson Edgar Posadas reaffirmed OCD’s commitment to continue looking into better financing mechanisms to address the gendered impacts of disasters affecting women and girls and ensuring that gender-mainstreaming interventions are integrated into their policies and programs.

Geronimo highlighted how women in communities have demonstrated immense potential to contribute to nation-building, robust economies, and inclusive communities when they are given opportunities and platforms to participate and to be heard and when their differentiated gender needs are taken into account in public and private programming and financing.

Oxfam Pilipinas hopes that these commitments for action will be amplified at the 68th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW68) starting March 11, 2024, to leverage the Philippines’ role as host. The 68th UNCSW’s theme, “Accelerating the Achievement of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of All Women and Girls by Addressing Poverty and Strengthening Institutions and Financing with a Gender Perspective,” underscores the collective commitment to building a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.

The Philippine delegation to the UNCSW68 is headed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and coordinated by the Philippine Commission on Women. Non-government organizations from the Philippines are expected to participate including Oxfam Pilipinas.