Women in the Philippines have a long way to go before they can boast of having equal rights with their male counterparts. This assessment was made by the United Nations committee that monitors a country's implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), considered the international bill of rights for women.
Countries that have ratified the CEDAW, such as the Philippines, are required to submit periodic reports to keep the committee abreast with the activities being undertaken to enforce CEDAW's provisions for gender equality.
Even today, in the Philippines there are laws that discriminate against women.
Therefore, it was necessary that immediate efforts be made to rectify the
After reviewing reports submitted by the government, NGOs and various UN agencies, the committee presented an assessment and gave recommendations on how to improve the implementation of CEDAW in the Philippines. Government and other stakeholders are expected to act on them in the next three years for the review
"While the comments and recommendations of the committee are clear enough, all those concerned have to get their act together to carry them out. That is why advocates for women's rights from government, NGOs and the UN have launched a Joint Programme," says Luz Rodriguez, Philippine coordinator of the CEDAW Southeast Asia Program.
The UN Joint Programme, which will run for the duration of two years
(2007-2009), has five UN agencies - UNIFEM, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN-HABITAT - pooling in their resources, in addition to the National Commission on the Role of the Filipino Women and partner NGOs. The programme will be managed by UNIFEM.
Adds Rodriguez, "The programme will provide support to the government to fulfill
its obligation to enforce CEDAW. At the same time, it will help civil society
groups monitor government activities and help disadvantaged women claim their
"The UN Joint Programme will press for the application of CEDAW in national
legislation, enacting non-discriminatory laws, including enacting measures that
eliminate discriminatory provisions and practices against women," explains
Another priority of the UN Joint Programme is to build the capacity of the
government and its partners in addressing women's human rights. "You will be
surprised but many of those tasked to promote women's human rights cannot
effectively do so because of their limited understanding of the issue. The UN
Joint Programme will tap academic institutions to coach and mentor the UN
programme staff in the country and NGOs on how to competently monitor CEDAW's implementation," says Rodriguez.
There will also be efforts to integrate CEDAW into core courses in law and
To make CEDAW real in the lives of disadvantaged women, attempts will be made to apply its principles in promoting and protecting the rights particularly of
indigenous, rural, and Muslim women.
"The UN Joint Programme will hopefully direct all stakeholders to focus on what
needs to be addressed as far as protecting the rights of Filipino women are
concerned. The concluding comments and recommendations of the UN committee provide the catalyst while the joint programme maps out the strategic actions that government, civil society and the UN will do to advance gender equality for Filipino women," explains Rodriguez.