Advancing the Goals of Gender Equality and Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

I AM tasked today to speak about the role of women in sustainable development. We often see ourselves in the forefront of gender issues, which we have tried to address with as much fervor as we have in our campaign for the environment. We have thus far authored 22 bills and 8 resolutions. Just last Monday, we have ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions on the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003.

Given the importance of my topic, allow me first to speak separately about sustainable development and women.

Sustainable development

A common view of sustainable development is that the three domains of nature, economy, and society including culture must all develop but not at the expense of each other by balancing economic and social progress with the concern for the environment and the careful stewardship of natural resources.

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The definition contains two concepts: the concept of need, in particular, the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations, which is imposed by the state of technology and social organizations on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

In 1992, the Earth Summit, also known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which gathered 117 heads of states and representatives of 178 nations, took place in Rio de Janeiro to reconcile worldwide economic development while protecting the environment. During the said summit, Agenda 21 was adopted, a comprehensive program of action to be implemented - from now into the 21st centuryby governments, development agencies, United Nations organizations, and independent sector groups-in global partnership for sustainable development. The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development which was also concluded in the same Summit emphasized among others the eradication of poverty and the protection of the environment as integral components of the process of sustainable development.

In the Philippines, the earliest official policy statement on sustainable development was the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development (PSSD) which was adopted in 1989. According to the PSSD, sustainable development stresses the need to view environment protection and economic growth as mutually compatible, implying that growth objectives should be compatible, not only to the needs of society but also to the natural dynamics and carrying capacities of ecosystems.

Seven years later, the Philippines adopted Philippine Agenda 21 in 1996 in line with its international commitment to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It identifies the essence of sustainable development as the harmonious integration of a sound and viable economy, responsible governance, social cohesion/harmony and ecological integrity to ensure that development is a lifeenhancing process.

Philippine Agenda 21 provides a guiding framework for sustainable development through a vision of society, where there is a better quality of life for all through the development of a just, moral, creative, spiritual, economically vibrant, caring, diverse yet cohesive society, characterized by appropriate productivity, participatory and democratic processes and living in harmony within the limits of the carrying capacity of nature and the integrity of creation.

Gender sensitivity, participatory democracy, ecological soundness and biogeographical equity and communitybased resource management are among the principles of sustainable development that Philippine Agenda 21 has long been espousing.

In September 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa reaffirmed the commitment made ten years ago. …