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UN, PCW, SM Cares kick off Women’s Month with exhibit, illumination of malls

Women’s Month with exhibit
Representatives from the Philippine Commission on Women, United Nations Philippines and SM Group of Companies kick off Women’s Month with the purple illumination of SM malls and an exhibit calling for the end of gender-based violence. Photo © UN Philippines / Gaylord Hintay

MANILA – To kick off Women’s Month, the United Nations Philippines, Philippine Commission on Women and SM Cares are collaborating on a series of events to champion women’s empowerment.

SM Malls Illuminate for Women’s Month

In a gesture of solidarity, participating SM malls across the Philippines (North EDSA, Aura, Mall of Asia, Megamall, Cebu, Lanang in Davao) will illuminate their buildings’ facade purple for March 1. From March 1 to 31, select LED assets inside and outside the participating malls will also feature a short video with key messages for Women’s Month. The video will play at prominent locations such as SM Megamall, SM MOA Arena, SM Mall of Asia Arena Annex (MAAX) Eye, SM Seaside City Cebu, SM City Clark, SM North Edsa, SM Fairview, and SM Sto.Tomas, as well as on digital directories in SM malls nationwide.

“Walk In Her Shoes” Traveling Exhibit

An interactive traveling exhibit dubbed “Walk In Her Shoes” will be displayed on the 3rd floor of SM North on March 1st. This compelling showcase features narratives from women and girls, shedding light on different forms of gender-based violence they experience. The exhibit strives to raise awareness about the widespread nature of violence against women (VAW), encourage reflection on harmful social norms, and inspire collective action to end VAW.

Women’s Month with exhibit

“Significant progress has been made in empowering women and girls, but the promise of gender equality remains unfulfilled for far too many, especially those from vulnerable groups. To achieve our goals for a just and equitable world, we must decisively increase investment in women, especially their health, education and overall well-being,” said United Nations Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez.

Gonzalez thanked the Philippine Commission on Women for leading efforts to empower women and for SM Cares and SM Supermalls for providing the space and platform to raise awareness about gender inequality and gender-based violence.

“Gender equality demands a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach. Only through collaboration across sectors can we dismantle harmful norms and build a world where women and girls enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men,” he said, adding that gender equality also has economic impacts as it results in sustainable development.

The PCW shares that the Philippines ranks 16th globally with a 79.1% parity score. It stands as the second-best in East Asia and the Pacific and remains the sole Asian nation within the top 20. But the reality remains, if this pace goes on, we may not live to see the day where women are treated equally as men, on all fronts. Hence, the Commission calls on everyone to double down on efforts towards gender equality.

One way of sparking conversations on women’s rights is the Purple Your Icon advocacy initiated by the Philippine Commission on Women as part of the annual National Women’s Month celebration. This encourages everyone to light up or decorate their offices, landmarks, and places in purple.

PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann Magundayao-Borlado extended the agency’s gratitude to SM Supermalls for joining this campaign by lighting up different malls in purple across the country and the UN Philippines for being one of its steadfast partners in this advocacy.

“Adorning our surroundings this month serves not only as a beautiful tribute, but also as a powerful symbol. Purple signifies the spirit of women’s rights, highlighting the fight for equality and empowerment. It represents a future where limitations and stereotypes are transcended,” said Atty. Magundayao-Borlado.

SM Supermalls, through its social responsibility arm – SM Cares, champions women’s empowerment, health, and welfare. The company strives to build a future where every woman feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach her full potential.

This commitment extends far beyond a single month, emphasizes Atty. Pearly Joan J. Turley, SM Cares Program Director for Women and Breastfeeding Mothers. “By collaborating with organizations like the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and United Nations, we actively ensure compliance with RA 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act (Bawal Bastos Law) by conducting mandatory orientation sessions for our own employees, agency personnel, and tenant employees to foster a safe, inclusive, and empowering environment for everyone visiting our malls.”

Recognizing that investing in violence prevention is critical, SM encourages other groups to join the effort in building a safer, more inclusive and equitable society.

Among the United Nations Gender Thematic Group (UN GTG) agencies that contributed to the “Walk in Her Shoes” exhibit are UNFPA, UN Women, UNICEF, UN Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organization, World Food Programme, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

UNFPA Philippines works with its partners in empowering women by (1) advocating for policies that protect women’s and girls’ right to make informed choices about their bodies, (2) addressing gender-based violence and harmful practices by challenging discriminatory norms and strengthening response mechanisms for GBV survivors, and (3) ensuring the protection of women in humanitarian settings through supporting the provision of essential reproductive healthcare and gender-based violence support systems.

Call to Action

The public is encouraged to visit the “Walk In Her Shoes” exhibit at the SM North’s City Center Level 3 from March 1-10, and to engage with the Women’s Month illumination campaign at participating SM malls nationwide. “Together, let’s create a world where women and girls enjoy freedom from violence and discrimination.”

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