Byline: Dr. AMELOU BENITEZ REYES
FROM its initial focus of organizing and mobilizing women for livelihood and welfare type of activities in its first decade of existence, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) has emerged as the primary moving force behind the countrys efforts to place gender concerns at the heart of all development initiatives.
After the EDSA people power revolution in 1986, NCRFW reviewed its mandate and reformulated its mission as "making government work for womens empowerment and gender equality." Recognizing the fundamental equality before the law of women and men as enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the NCRFW restated its vision as "Filipino women and men equally contributing to and benefiting from national development."
Gender Mainstreaming: Capacity Building and Good Governance
Establishing the gender mainstreaming management system by developing the capabilities of oversight agencies, modeling gender mainstreaming approaches with line agencies and LGUs, expanding technical resource base for gender mainstreaming in partnership with NGOs and academic institutions, setting up of regional, provincial and municipal commissions/ committees on women, technical assistance and monitoring of gender equality plans, laws and policies, strengthening NCRFWs own capabilities as oversight agency, development of tools, systems and capabilities with partners at the local, regional and national levels.
Women Empowerment: Human Rights and Gender Issues
Protecting and promoting womens rights as human rights consists of identifying and responding to womens strategic interests and practical needs, using the life cycle and rights-based approaches, intermediating resources and mobilizing actions to assist women in poverty situations, victims of violence and discrimination, and those in extremely difficult circumstances, building strong networks of women NGOs so that women may have the power and "voice" to negotiate rules for participation in decision making, counteracting negative portrayals of women in media, supporting gender sensitivity training and harnessing initiatives of NGOs, private institutions, business and labor sectors, and other potential partners, harnessing the GAD budget of agencies for specific programs and projects for women to address barriers to womens participation, engendering academic disciplines and macro/sectoral policies.
Recognizing that the mobilization of women around livelihood project did not necessarily address gender inequalities and uplift the position of women, NCRFW shifted direction and made gender mainstreaming in government as its main strategy to promote gender equality. Within the backdrop of growing global activism for gender equality, the Philippines had its first woman President in 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino. Under her administration, a radical shift in perspective from Women in WID to GAD was pursued.
The Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (PPGD), under Executive Order 273, was adopted as the countrys main vehicle for implementing the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (PFA). The PPGD carried the vision for Filipino Women and the broad goals and strategies through all sectors. Another milestone was a legislative initiative on the GAD Budget Policy mandating all government agencies to allocate at least 5 percent of their total appropriations for GAD programs and projects.
Through the support of CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency), NCRFW implemented the Institutional Strengthening Project to develop skills, tolls, and systems toward sustainable actions on gender equality. This project has resulted in policy imperatives addressing gender issues and concerns, development planning for women, setting up of GAD institutional mechanisms, GAD focal systems, GAD training for national agencies and offices, GAD data base and gender statistics, and strengthening partnerships between government agencies and women NGOs. …