By Henrylito D. Tacio
“Women hold up half the sky,” so goes a Chinese proverb. So much so that in development, gender equality plays a crucial role. And this term “gender” does not allude simply to women or men but to the relationship between two sexes and the way it is socially constructed.
In time, gender and development (GAD) came into existence. “GAD focuses on the principle that development is for all,” explains an expert on the subject. “Everyone in society, female or male, has the right to equal opportunities to achieve a full and satisfying life. Women and men enjoy the same conditions for realizing their full human rights and potentials to contribute to development as well as benefit from the results.”
The 1987 Constitution states three prominent provisions. The Declaration of Principles Article II Section 14 asserted that: “The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.”
Article XIII, Section 14 also stated that: “The State shall protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities and opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation.”
Finally, Article XIII, Section 11, also said that: “The State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost. There shall be priority for the needs of the under-privileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children. The State shall endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers.”
Following from constitutional provisions and the subsequent efforts to broaden the its principles, numerous legislations were enacted that relates to the various aspects of women and gender concerns. The list included the following:
• Executive Order 227: The New Family Code of the Philippines
• Republic Act 6725: An Act Strengthening the Prohibition on Discrimination against Women with Respect to Terms and Conditions of Employment, Amending 135 of the Labor Code, as Amended.
• Joint Circular No. 2012-01 (GAD Plans and Budgets and Accomplishment Report Implementing MCW)
• Republic Act 7877: Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, which declares sexual harassment unlawful in the employment, education and training environment;
• Republic Act 6949: This declares March 8 of every year as a working holiday to be known as National Women’s Day;
• Republic Act 6972: It mandates the establishment of day care centers in every barangay;
• Republic Act 7322: It increases the maternity benefits of women in the private sector;
• Republic Act 7655: It increases the minimum wage of domestic helpers;
• Republic Act 10361: More popularly known as Batas Kasambahay; and
• Republic Act 9262: Anti-Violence Against Women and Children
Other laws and legislations include Anti-Rape Law (elevation of rape as crime against person), Women in Nation-Building Law (allocation of budget for women from development funds from foreign governments and multilateral institutions), Anti Mail-Order-Bride Law (making the practice unlawful), Repatriation Law (repatriation of Filipinas who lost citizenship by marriage in case of need), Non-Discrimination Law in Labor Code (women protection in hiring and pay), Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (equal rights for women to be recipients of land), and Military Training Equality (women can enter the military and police schools and be provided with the same facilities provided men).
Section 5 of the Women in Development and Nation Building Act states: “Women of legal age, regardless of civil status, shall have the capacity to act and enter into contracts which shall in every respect be equal to that of men under similar circumstances.
“In all contractual situations where married men have the capacity to act, married women shall have equal rights. To this end:
(1) Women shall have the capacity to borrow and obtain loans and execute security and credit arrangement under the same conditions as men;
(2) Women shall have equal access to all government and private sector programs granting agricultural credit, loans and non-material resources and shall enjoy equal treatment in agrarian reform and land resettlement programs;
(3) Women shall have equal rights to act as incorporators and enter into insurance contracts; and
(4) Married women shall have rights equal to those of married men in applying for passport, secure visas and other travel documents, without need to secure the consent of their spouses.