ACKNOWLEDGING the continuing presence of discrimination against women, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday encouraged his fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders to push for a “gender-responsive recovery plan”.
Duterte, during the Asean leaders’ special session on “Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age,” admitted that there are still structures and practices in society that perpetuate the oppression of women, Malacañang said in a press statement.
Duterte, the Palace said, also stressed that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic “aggravates existing gender inequalities and adds urgency to efforts in women empowerment”.
“The President thus called for a gender-responsive recovery plan for the region,” the Palace said.
Duterte gave the message as he reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to women empowerment and gender equality.
The special session was convened in celebration of the 25th anniversary of China’s Declaration and Platform for Action on women empowerment and gender equality adopted in Beijing in 1995.
Malacañang said several women leaders from the Asia Pacific also participated in the event. These include New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Vietnam National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific executive secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.
During the videoconference, the Palace said Duterte touted the progress in the promotion of the rights and status of Filipino women in the Philippines.
It said Duterte also noted that the Philippines “has closed 78 percent of its overall gender gap”.
“This year, the country ranks first in Asia and 16th globally in terms of gender parity in education, health, economy, and politics,” Malacañang said.
Duterte also revealed that over the past three years, laws were enacted to improve women’s access to health services, increase their economic and political participation, and ensure their safety and security.
Among the enacted laws under Duterte's watch are the Universal Health Care Act, the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act, and the Organic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, it said.
Malacañang said Duterte also emphasized that the Philippines ramped up partnerships with other governments to counter human trafficking that affects women.
Duterte also stressed that women’s rights should be recognized by giving them control and access to digital technology, the Palace said.
Duterte, it said, believed that digital technology is “an important tool for women empowerment”.
Malacañang said Duterte stressed the need to “ensure more women’s active participation as we go into the new normal” after the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have to make cyberspace a safe place for women to connect, learn, and innovate. All forms of gender-based violence and abuse are abhorrent. They are wrong in the virtual world as they are in the real world. And they are never the victim’s fault but that of the perpetrator alone,” Duterte was quoted as saying. PNA