Advocates push for law on gender-responsive, inclusive pandemic management

Published December 5, 2021, 11:01 AM

by Gabriela Baron

Safe and Fair Philippines, through its national campaign Babaeng BiyaHero, pushed for the passage of the Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021, a bill that seeks to address the gender-differentiated needs of women, including migrant women, with provisions on the prevention of and response to gender-based violence.


“Apart from dealing with the effects of a global health crisis, women all over the world today also continue to experience varying forms of abuse. Many remain at risk without having an avenue or resource to be heard. It’s a shadow pandemic that we need to start paying attention to,” United Nations Women National Project Office Charisse Jordan said.

Jordan batted for women’s access to “coordinated and quality” essential services, including legal aid when they experience gender-based violence to health services, such as sexual and reproductive health services, and livelihood and economic opportunities.

“Women are affected differently which is what we refer to as ‘gender-differentiated needs.’ Passing Senate Bill (SB) 2088 into law is a necessary step towards mitigating violence against women. We urge our legislators to please make its swift enactment into law,” Jordan added.

SB 2088 was created to ensure gender-responsive and inclusive protocols that will address different gender-differentiated needs of women during COVID-19.

If implemented as law, government agencies will have enough power to monitor the realities of women related to gender-based violence/ violence at work; respond to and eliminate gender-based violence/violence at work against women through pandemic policy and decision making, planning, and programming; and develop guidelines on practices, protocols, coordination and networking, and education of first responders.

The passage will also ensure that communications systems, referral systems, protection mechanisms, and measures on access to justice and effective remedies by women subject to gender-based violence/violence at work continue to operate during a pandemic; provide shelter and security, resources, and support to women and girls subject to violence; and enable sufficient and effective institutional response for preventing gender-based violence/violence at work during a pandemic.

“As the government continues to formulate rehabilitation programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential that the rights of women, both here and abroad, be at the heart of their planning, decision-making, and implementation,” Jordan underscored.

Safe and Fair is implemented through a partnership between the International Labour Organization and UN Women to ensure that labor migration is safe and fair for all women in the Southeast Asia region.

Its Babeng BiyaHero hotline provides psychological support, counseling, and violence against women case management for distressed and abused women migrant workers.