MANILA, Philippines — Women senators on Monday filed a bill seeking to establish programs and protocols to meet women's special needs during disasters and public health emergencies.
The lady senators led by Senator Risa Hontiveros filed Senate Bill No. 2088 or the proposed Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021 on International Women's Day.
Aside from Hontiveros, Senators Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Leila de Lima, Imee Marcos, Grace Poe, and Cynthia Villar also authored the bill.
"Ito ay isang pagtugon sa mga natuklasan ng UN (United Nations) Women (This bill seeks to address what the UN Women has discovered) on the multiple ways that women are differently impacted by our public health crisis," Hontiveros, Chair of the Senate women committee, said during her privilege speech.
"Nang unang magpataw ng lockdown, na syang itinuturing na isa sa pinakamahigpit sa buong mundo, may malinaw na pagtaas ng bilang ng gender-based violence. Bakit? Dahil ang ilang mga babae ay naging bantay-sarado na ng kanilang mga abuser. Bakit ulit? Dahil work-from-home ang mga empleyado at distance learning ang mga kabataan," she added.
(When the lockdown was first imposed, which was considered the longest lockdown in the world, there has been a clear spike in gender-based violence. Why? Because many women have become closely guarded by their abusers. Why? Because of the work-from-home setup and distance learning.)
The measure seeks to enforce access to social protection and safety nets, to include women in the development of national pandemic management guidelines, to ensure access to and continuous operation of gender desks and health services, and to provide adequate funding for such initiatives, 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. Ang kababaihan din ay sabay-sabay naging guro, homemaker, breadwinner. Kung sino pa yung may pinaka-mabigat na responsibilidad ngayon, siya pa ang kinakalimutan," Hontiveros said.
(Women often act as teachers, homemakers, and breadwinners. The one who has the greatest responsibility appears to have been overlooked.)
"Women are on the frontlines of where our COVID response is failing," she added.
With the pandemic threat lingering, Hontiveros said she would commit to prioritizing the bill should it be referred to her committee. She firmly believes the hope for recovery "must begin with women."
"This pandemic is not just about pain and hardship. This is also about solidarity and resilience, giving space to the vulnerable, and people lifting up others amid all uncertainty," Hontiveros said.
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