CHR, DILG boost gov'ts' gender-responsive efforts amid pandemic

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have teamed up to strengthen the government's gender-responsive efforts amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a joint memorandum circular dated July 15, both agencies acknowledged that women and girls experience a myriad of difficulties and exposure to risks in the middle of the COVID-19 health crisis and the implementation of the community quarantine.

These challenges include lack of hygiene and menstrual health supplies from relief and aid distributions, as well as lack of family planning commodities, reproductive health supplies, and contraceptives.

Pregnant and lactating women likewise have special needs, while members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community often face discrimination and harassment.

"Further, there is a need to address the different barriers faced by women and children from geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs), including indigenous women and girls," they said.

This is why the CHR and DILG agreed that local government units (LGUs) should ensure that women's and girls' concerns, and the concerns of the LGBTQI+ communities are taken into consideration in the design, planning, and implementation of crisis interventions.

The LGUs should likewise ensure that women's and girls' specific health needs are addressed at the community level, during containment measures, and recovery, they said.

"All women and girls are affected by the crisis brought about by COVID-19. According protection to women during the crisis, and during transition to the general community quarantine (GCQ) and early recovery does not mean providing uniform intervention for all women," they said.

Both agencies said that LGUs should pay attention and address specific vulnerabilities to ensure protection and full employment of rights for everyone, including women with disabilities, elderly women, women deprived of liberty, children in conflict with the law, urban poor women, Moro and Muslim women, internally displaced women, migrant women, and many more.

The 11-page memorandum was signed by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon.