Senator Risa Hontiveros has rallied parliamentarians to stand in solidarity with women’s movements across the world to ensure true and lasting gender equality.
Senator Risa Hontiveros with (left to right) Ma. Aurora Quilala, PLCPD Advocacy and Partnerships Manager; and Klaus Beck, UNFPA Deputy Regional Director. The senator is attending the Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development in Tokyo from April 24 to April 26.
Hontiveros made the call at the Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development in Tokyo, Japan, representing the Philippines, from April 24 to April 26.
“COVID-19 has taught us that we are more in need of each other than we would like to admit, more connected than we think, more similar than we are different,” said Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality,
“And I hope as we work towards creating societies that are freer, healthier, and happier for our women and girls, we always remember to work together, look out for each other, and stay united in our shared humanity,” the senator stressed.
The event is organized by the Asian Population and Development Association, the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development Japan, the Parliamentarians Federation for Population, and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Japan Trust Fund.
During the event, Hontiveros spoke about how COVID-19 has exposed the social inequalities that exacerbated the gaps and challenges facing women’s rights and gender equality in the Philippines.
"Our country was known to have the longest and strictest lockdown in the world, as the previous administration employed a militaristic method instead of a health-centric approach to our COVID-19 response. The consequences of this were most felt by the most vulnerable among us, especially our women and children,” the senator said in her speech.
On top of these, she said, were other forms of gender-based violence such as incidents of sex-for-pass at checkpoints to cases of online sexual exploitation of children on social media.
The online sexual exploitation of children, she pointed out, became prevalent in the Philippines, due to health and the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic.
Because of this, the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Law and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law, were urgently passed in the middle of the pandemic in order to tackle the issues that most affect our women and girls, Hontiveros pointed out.
The senator also highlighted the signing into law of the Safe Spaces Act in 2019, Republic Act No. 11313, or the “Bawal Bastos” law which covers all forms of gender-based sexual harassment done in public spaces, educational or training institutions, workplaces and online space.
At the same time, Hontiveros disclosed the filing of the bill on Gender Responsive and Inclusive Emergency Management Act, which seeks to address the gender-differentiated needs of women and girls as we are disproportionately affected in times of emergencies.
“We shouldn’t just stop at passing laws for our women, we should make it our responsibility to ensure that more women are also in leadership positions, more women who intimately know the lived experiences of being a woman,” Hontiveros said.
“When we have the different perspectives of different kinds of women in decision-making spaces and in all levels of governance, we would be more able to live out true gender equality and empowerment for all,” she added.