DENR MIMAROPA employees participating in the ‘Nuwebe’ film showing on December 7. PENR and CENR Office personnel also joined the activity through Zoom.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – MIMAROPA Region joined the entire nation in upholding women’s rights as it kicked off the 18-day campaign to end violence against women (VAW) during its Monday Convocation, November 18.
Anchored on the theme, “VAW-Free Community Starts with Me,” DENR MIMAROPA prepared a lineup of activities to ensure the office promotes a safe and productive environment for its clients, and more importantly to its female personnel who form almost half of its entire workforce.
Starting on November 25, there shall be hanging of tarpaulins and distribution of information, education and communication (IEC) materials to raise the level of awareness and elimination of all forms of violence against women. On December 7, the Office marks the premier of Nuwebe, a film inspired by the story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history. Directed by Joseph Israel Laban, Nuwebe tackles the life of 9-year-old Krista who persevered in spirit and great resolve amidst suffering sexual abuse from the hands of his very own father.
Finally on December 13, DENR MIMAROPA shall host a webinar about Republic Act (RA) 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act (Bawal ang Bastos Law). The virtual forum shall tackle the salient provisions of the law, such as its scope, which covers all forms of gender-based sexual harassment committed in public spaces, educational or training institutions, workplace, as well as online space. It shall likewise discuss prohibited acts, such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, misogynistic and homophobic slurs, and unwanted sexual advances, among others.
The activities are organized pursuant to RA 10398 or the Act declaring November 25 of every year as the National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of violence against women and children. Enacted on March 19, 2013, said law mandated government agencies to raise awareness on the problem of violence and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
The law likewise stems from Proclamation No. 1172, which was signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006, which extends the national campaign to 18 days, up to December 12, to mark the historic date of the signing in the year 2000 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
- 7, 000, 000 – number of children sexually abused every year in the Philippines as reported by CAMELEON, an international solidarity association founded in 1997 to develop a holistic approach to act on the causes and effects of sexual violence towards children and teenagers.
- 1 in 4 Filipino women age 14 – 49 – number of women violated by their husband or partner either physically, emotionally and sexually as shown in a study conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2017.
- 58% - The Social Weather Stations revealed that in a study held in 2016, 58% of incidents involving sexual harassment happen on the streets, major roads and alleys (eskinita).
- 68% of 500 young female respondents have experienced frequent online harassment on social media based on Plan International’s survey in 2020.
- 1 in 7 women in the Philippines – number of women in the country who experienced sexual harassment at least once every week as reported by Australian Aid in 2021. The report added that while past surveys account prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, it was underreported due to fear of reprisal from alleged offender.
Amidst the crafting of numerous laws, rules and regulations to ensure gender equality and respect, it is unfortunate that these figures speak of the ills women go through in the society today. But there is no reason to abandon hope as everyone has the chance and power to end all forms of violence against women and children.
The Philippine Commission on Women has enlisted the following steps to promote strengthened and concerted efforts to promote gender equality. Here’s what you can do.
18 Steps to end VAW
1. Empower yourself. Know your rights and available courses of actions in case these rights are violated.
2. Speak out and report to the authorities in case your rights are violated.
3. Encourage others to fight for their rights.
4. Respect women and girls in your home, workplace, and community.
5. Join male groups promoting Anti-VAW efforts and participate in discussions to broaden your awareness on the advocacy.
6. Enlighten/advise perpetrators to seek help and join the male Anti-VAW supporters.
7. Equip yourselves with apt trainings and capacity development sessions to improve service delivery for your clients.
8. Develop monitoring and evaluation strategy to assess the service to your clients’ supporters.
9. Let people know that you provide the services! We need to inform the public that there are government offices that they can turn to and trust to assist them towards healing and seeking justice.
10. Ensure that your Barangay VAW Desk is functional. You can use the Barangay VAW Desk Handbook developed by PCW and DILG with partner agencies to guide you on what to do.
11. Establish linkages with local and national government agencies, as well as other organizations near your barangay where you can refer victim-survivors of VAW for needed assistance which the barangay is not able to provide.
12. Promote harmonious family and community relationships in your barangay which is grounded on mutual respect for human rights, and take proactive steps to attain a VAW-free community.
13. Support the Anti-VAW efforts of the government and your immediate community.
14. Establish your own Action Desks where employees and clients can go to in case VAW happens.
15. Develop internal rules to proactively ensure that your workplace is VAW-free.
16. Include concepts of VAW and women’s human rights in lesson plans/lesson guides of your teaching staff
17. Continually conduct/spearhead anti-VAW advocacies in your campus, and if possible, to your immediate community through extension programs.
18. Setup a Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) where students and employees can seek help.