National Women’s Month
From the Philippine Commission on Women: The observance of International Women’s Day (IWD) was a result of the organizing activities of women in the early 20th Century. Between 1909 and 1911, working women in the United States of America participated in organizing strike activities of the National Women’s Trade Union League and other concerned groups. They were protesting against low wages, lack of protective legislation and the very poor working conditions to which women workers were subjected during that time.
The demonstrations were an offshoot of the tragic March 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which took the lives of more than 140 working girls, mostly Italian and Jewish immigrants. Subsequently, the inhumane working conditions and other unfair labor practices leading up to the disaster were invoked during observances of IWD.
In Europe, Clara Zetkin and the Socialist Women’s International demanded that March 8th be International Women’s Day, celebrated each year to recognize working women around the world. The celebration of IWD has since stimulated major historical events. For instance, IWD was the inspiration for the general strike, which began the Russian Revolution in St. Petersburg in 1917 when 10, 000 women textile workers demonstrated.
It is due to such a history of women organizing around the world that IWD was officially recognized by the United Nations to celebrate women’s contributions to all societies.
In the Philippines, the Women’s Month Celebration has since served as a venue to highlight women’s achievements and discuss continuing and emerging women’s empowerment and gender equality issues and concerns, challenges, and commitments. The celebration focuses on concrete activities that are aligned with national and international instruments and treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (1995-2025), the Framework Plan for Women, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The passage of the following laws serves as the legal bases for the celebration of National Women’s Month:
Proclamation No. 224 s. 1988, “Declaring the First Week of March of Every Year as Women’s Week and March 8, 1988, and Every Year Thereafter as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day.” Signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino on March 1, 1988, it affirmed our solidarity with the United Nations and recognized Filipino women’s contribution to the struggle for national independence, civil liberties, equality, and human rights.
Proclamation No, 227 s. 1988, “Providing for the observance of the Month of March as ‘Women’s Role in History Month’” Signed by President Aquino on March 17, 1988, reinforced the earlier proclamation by emphasizing the role of Filipino women in the social, cultural, economic and political development throughout our history. It provided for a month-long nationwide observance with appropriate ceremonies and activities to be spearheaded by the Commission.
R.A. 6949 s. 1990, “An Act to Declare March Eight of Every Year as a Working Special Holiday to be Known as National Women’s Day” was signed by President Aquino on April 10, 1990. The law further strengthened the impetus for the celebration by declaring every March 8 as a special working holiday and enjoining employees from the government and private sector to participate in activities conducted by their offices.
18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women
From the Philippine Commission on Women: The 18-Day Campaign to End VAW supports the Philippine government’s goal of protecting the human rights of women and girls by upholding its commitment to address all forms of gender-based violence as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. By virtue of Republic Act 10398 or the Act declaring November 25 of every year as the National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of VAWC, government agencies are mandated to raise awareness on the problem of violence and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
Globally, the 16-day action against gender-based violence has been acknowledged to support the international campaign that originated from the first Women Leadership Institute at Reuters University, New Jersey, USA in 1991. The observance of this campaign started in November 25, which is the International Day to Eliminate VAW up to December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day, to emphasize that VAW is a human rights violation and to ensure better protection for survivors and victims of violence. In 2002, the Philippine Government, through the Philippine Commission on Women and key stakeholders joined the global campaign, initially to push for laws and the establishment of institutional mechanisms to address VAW.
In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 1172, extending the national campaign to 18 days, thereby including December 12, a historic date that marked the signing in the year 2000 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, to supplement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crimes.
The campaign was further strengthened in 2008 when the United Nations Secretary General launched the UNiTE to End VAW Campaign, which envisions a world free from all forms of violence against women and girls. For the UN, this vision can only be realized through meaningful actions and ongoing political commitments of national governments, supported by adequate resources.
18 Things that We Can Do to Help 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.
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