Baguio City – Presidential Proclamation No. 227 Series of 1988 declares the observance of the Month of March as Women’s Role in History Month and Republic Act No. 6949 Series of 1990 declares March 8 of every year as National Women’s Day which aims to give recognition to the contributions of Filipino women in our society. The National Women’s Month Celebration every March is part of the worldwide observance of the International Women’s Day (IWD).

This year’s theme, “We Make Change Work for Women” will be used from 2017 -2022. It highlights the empowerment of women as active contributors to and claimholders of development. This pursuit of development is also anchored on the commitment of “Malasakit at Pagbabago” or True Compassion and Real Change.

The elements of the theme “We Make Change Work for Women”, is defined for us to easily understand.

WE stands for Women’ Empowerment – empowering women enables them to confidently and meaningfully engage with appropriate institutions to ensure that they contribute to and benefit from development and changes. Thus, women’s empowerment will make the change that we are espousing or any development effort responsive of women’s concerns.

Make Change Work is simply MCW which refers to the Magna Carta of Women – making change work for women necessitates strengthening the implementation of the MCW at all levels. It means putting in place functional mechanisms as well as implementing and making known to citizens, programs and services that address strategic gender needs of women.

CHANGE also means Compassionate and Harmonized Actions and Networks for Gender Equality.

We / us or “kami / tayo” in Filipino will pave the way for an enabling environment for women to be empowered and we will ensure that the MCW is implemented at all levels. We make change work for women in our various capacities whether as government officials and employees, members of the private sector, the academe, non-government organizations, or as private individuals. We can all be partners for a change that is gender-responsive. It emphasizes our collective effort, collaboration and participation to ensure that women will not be left behind in the pursuit of change.

The theme emphasizes that women should be active drivers in bringing about positive changes, and that they should also reap from fruits of development efforts. This can be made possible by empowering women – enabling them to meaningfully engage with other development stakeholders, and by fully implementing the MCW.

This years’ celebration of women’s month aims to inform and engage women as stakeholders of government programs and services – to promote citizen-centric governance and make “change” a conscious effort to know, understand, and provide what ALL citizens need; create and facilitate platforms to discuss good practices, gaps, challenges , and commitments in pursuing gender and development (GAD) – to strengthen implementation of the Magna Carta of Women; and inspire and empower women and girls to be agents of change – to contribute in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of all women.

The Magna Carta for Women or Republic Act 9710 is a Human Rights law that seeks to eliminate the discrimination of Filipino women especially those in the marginalized sectors of society. The law was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2009.

The Magna Carta for Women guarantees all the human rights of women and fundamental freedoms in civil, social, political, economic, cultural and other fields. It also provides for equal treatment for men and women before the law. Existing laws that are deemed discriminatory to women have to be amended or cancelled. Equal status is also given to men and women when it comes to titling of landor the issuance of stewardship contracts.

The law protects women from all forms of violence and guarantees the security of women during the times of crisis and disasters. Also the law provides equal access to education, scholarships, and trainings. The law prohibits the “expulsion”, non-readmission, non-enrollment, and other related discrimination of women students and faculty due to pregnancy out of marriage.

RA 9710 ensures the equal participation and non-discrimination in sports; prohibits discrimination in employing people for the government, military, police and others. It also prohibits derogatory portrayal of women in Media and Film.

The law provides comprehensive health services and health information and education covering all stages of a woman’s life cycle, and which addresses the major causes of women’s mortality and morbidity, including access to among others, maternal care, responsible, ethical, legal, safe and effective methods of family planning, and encouraging healthy lifestyle activities to prevent diseases.

It also provide leave benefits of two (2) months with full pay based on gross monthly compensation, for women employees who undergo surgery caused by gynecological disorders, provided that they have rendered continuous aggregate employment service of at least six (6) months for the last twelve (12) months and finally the magna Carta for Women encourages women leadership and provides incentives to political parties with women agendas./ Patrick T Rillorta