Lady senators unite to pursue bill protecting women during pandemic

Published March 8, 2021, 6:29 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The women of the Senate are now pushing for the passage of the measure seeking to create programs and protocols aimed at protecting women during disasters and public health emergencies.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, led the filing of Senate Bill No. 2088, or the proposed Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021.

Hontiveros thanked Senators Nancy BInay, Pia Cayetano, Leila de Lima, Imee Marcos, Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar for coming together as co-authors of the bill.

The bill aims to enforce access to social protections and safety nets involving women in the formulation of guidelines in the national management of the pandemic.

The measure also seeks to involve more women in the formulation of guidelines in the national management of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensure access to and the continuous functioning of gender desks and health services, and appropriate funds to secure these programs, among others.

“Women are experiencing a pandemic unique to us. Gender-related violence, economic disempowerment, unexpected pregnancies, and human trafficking are only a handful of the issues,” Hontiveros said in her privilege speech on Monday, March 8.

“Women are on the frontlines of where our COVID response is failing. We need to listen to ourselves. If we want to rise once again, women are the key to resolve the problems hounding our women,” she sai.

Noting that the end of the pandemic is still uncertain, Hontiveros said she would commit to prioritize the bill should it be referred to her committee, saying she believes any hope of recovery must begin with women.

As chairperson of the Senate women’s panel, Hontiveros said she will particularly pursue better working conditions and salary for women workers especially during this time of a pandemic.

“For our local women workers, the situation is not much better. Though both women and men are affected by the pandemic, data shows that during the pandemic, women bear the brunt of unpaid care work,” she pointed out.

“The COVID-19 pandemic heavily escalated the need for unpaid care work because of the closure of schools and the reduced public services for the senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs),” she stressed.

Cayetano, echoed Hontiveros call and at the same time, called on women senators to thank their male colleagues for creating a legislative environment that allows them to stand up “to fight for better protection for women.”

At the same time, Cayetano made a commitment to participate in the deliberations of the bill to also ensure that the measure will also cover the current problem on the rising number of teenage pregnancy cases.

“My deepest concern is regarding teen pregnancies; I think teen pregnancy sadly is something that has escalated during this time of the pandemic. Many of them are likely victims of abuse and violence in their own homes. Many of them could have been impregnated by somebody they know or somebody close to them,” Cayetano pointed out.

“So I thank her for bringing this to the attention of the body and allowing us to be a co-author of the measure,” she said.