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LB honors women with month-long celebration

International Women’s Month is celebrated globally every March. In the Philippines, this event is adapted through the annual celebration of the National Women’s Month wherein different Local Government Units hold programs and activities that signify respect and appreciation for the achievements of Filipino women and their contribution to the country.

 

 


This year, the Municipality of Los Baños, Laguna celebrates this global event by holding its own month-long series of activities that started last February 28 and will end on March 31, 2011.

The event parades the theme “Magna Carta of Women, Philippine CEDAW: in support of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)”. The event was spearheaded by the Municipal Government together with the Sangguniang Bayan and Gender and Development Council (GAD).

The Magna Carta

The Magna Carta of Women, a local version of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), serves as the national bill of rights of women written by Senator Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations with the principal sponsorship of Senator Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano. This bill was signed as Republic Act 9710 (MCW) on August 14, 2009 by former President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo. Under this law, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and the Gender Ombudsman, a sub-unit of the Commission of Human Rights, are created to address concerns on women’s rights. According to PCW, the law in general “seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting all human rights and fundamental freedoms of Filipino women, particularly those in marginalized sector.”

The Magna Carta of Women and the National Women’s Month are both adaptation of their international counterparts (CEDAW and IWM). The application of the rules and regulations written under MCW are much more visible on the National Women’s Month since LGUs hold programs and activities promoting women empowerment during this month. These programs and activities provide an avenue for women to exercise their right for health care, decent work, livelihood, properties, food security, social protection, and identity.

National Women’s Month 2011 of Los Banos

The Municipality of Los Banos adopts the concept of MCW and the MDGs in its own celebration of the National Women’s Month. The celebration was launched on the last day of February with the holding of “Search for Natatanging Kababaihan ng Los Baños” at the Municipal Covered Court. The search had four categories, namely: Edukasyon, Pamamahalang Lokal, Boluntaryong Lider, and Pamamahala sa Kalikasan.

The first day of March marks the public announcement of the National Women’s Month through posting of tarpaulins and distribution of flyers around Los Banos. The promotion of the programs and activities is headed by the Gender and Development Office (GAD).

Three seminars were held on March 2-4. The first one tackles responsible parenting while the next two focuses on familiarizing municipal employees on the application of the MCW.

On March 5 and 6, the Department of Interior and Local Government and Municipal Health Office held two programs to promote social services and tips for fire safety in the four clusters of the municipality.

March 7 marked the launching of livelihood projects and the commemoration of the International Women’s Day. The celebration of IWD originated in Germany on March 19, 1911 with its original name “International Working Women’s Day (IWD)”. Nowadays, the IWD is actually celebrated every 8th day of March. On March 8, the office of the Vice-Mayor and the office of the Municipal Administrator will hold “Walk for a Cause”, a campaign parade of women against cervical cancer. The walk will start from Trace College and will end on the Municipal Covered Court. This event serves as one of the highlights of the National Women’s Month celebration of Los Baños.

On March 9 and 10, the Municipal Health Office distributed information materials on how to prevent and to deal with Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer. The Department of Social Welfare and Development will also distribute information materials promoting women’s right.

The “Pampering Day” was scheduled on March 11 at the Municipal Covered Court where GAD and MHO will provide free services on hair-cutting, coloring, and massaging. This day will be known also as “Buntis Day” wherein the MHO will provide free health services for pregnant women.

March 14 marked the date DSWD held a Solo Parent Assembly, a program dedicated particularly for single mother, wherein they will discuss about raising children.

The municipal health office (MHO), on March 15-16, will distribute free acetic acid wash and will perform free prostate test. On March 17, MHO will also hold a lecture on adolescent health. The lecture will be about the AIDS awareness, STD prevention and smoking cessation. It will be held at the Los Banos Community High School and Los Banos Integrated School. On March 18, the MHO will also perform free tubal ligation. Tubal ligation is an operation where fallopian tubes are cut to deny sperm passage during a sexual intercourse, thus will not allow fertilization.

Violence Against Women and their Children Act

Like the Magna Carta of Women, the Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act (VAWC) was created to protect women and their children from any form of violence in an outside their home and will honor the Provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the CEDAW.

This law was signed also by former president Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo on March 8, 2004, that year’s celebration of International Women’s Day. With the help of the Department of Interior and Local Government, the legal office of Los Banos will hold a seminar on March 21 about VAWC. The audience will be the women kagawads. This seminar will familiarize them on the provisions of VAWC and will challenge them to practice the provisions on cases concerning violence against women and their children here in Los Banos. On March 22, a seminar on Anti – Women trafficking for Women Leaders will also be held. Both seminars will be held at the Batong Malake Session Hall.

Enjoying the National Women’s Month

Aside from seminars and free services, the office of the Vice-Mayor, together with the office of the Administrator, GAD, DILG, and Sangguniang Kabataan Federation will hold fun activities from March 23 to 30. On the first day, fun games and a sports fest will be held. Everyone is welcome to join this one-night event that will showcase the talents and skills on sports of Los Banos residents. On March 25, the Gabi ng Parangal at Party Pilipina will be held on the Municipal Covered Court. On March 28 and 29, the SK Federation will spearhead the On-the-Spot Poster Making Contest for High School and Elementary students. On March 30, a slogan writing contest will also be held for High School students. The theme of the poster making contest and the slogan writing contest is identical to the theme of the celebration. These events will be held at the Municipal Covered Court.

The culminating activity of Los Baños will be held on March 31 from 7 am to 11 am. This activity will be known as the “Sabayang Linis Kapaligiran”. This serves as general cleaning activity of all barangays here in Los Baños. Everyone is encouraged to join this activity which will promote cleanliness and preservation of nature by eliminating garbages at home, on streets, and on water systems.

Knowing “her” rights.

Some women of Los Baños believe that these activities would really help them acquire knowledge about their rights, especially that the provisions of the MCW were still unfamiliar for some. According to Estrellita Olagin, 42 years old and a housewife from Barangay San Antonio, she really didn’t know what the Magna Carta of Women means or stands for. All she knows is that there is an existing law for the protection of women and children but didn’t know the specific provisions written in the law.

“Nakikita ko lang sa balita yung mga ginagawang aksyon ng DSWD pag may kaso ng rape o kaya pambububugbog sa babae. Tapos naririnig-rinig ko lang yung mga pinapaliwanag ng abogado na batas, batas na yan.” But she understands that the Municipal Government’s aim is to inform the women of Los Baños about their rights through comprehensive discussion and application of the provisions of MCW in these series of activities. “Buti na lang kamo may mga ganyang programa na. At least, malalaman ng mga kababaihan dito kung ano nga ba yung mga batas na pro-protekta sa kanila.”

On the other hand, Diane Cervantes, a 21-year old saleslady from Batong Malake, shared  “ang alam ko talaga, dahil diyan sa Magna Carta ay mas lalong dumami yung karapatan ng babae. Dati kasi parang di ganon kataas ang tingin saming mga babae eh kaya madalas mabiktima ng pangmomolestiya at pananakit." She commends the municipal government for holding such event for women like her.

“Maganda talaga na may ganitong ginagawa ang munisipyo. Mas napapakita ang kahalagahan ng babae sa lipunan. Mas napapatunayan na di lang pang-gawaing bahay at utos-utusan ang babae. Pantay-pantay lang,” she added.

 

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The Los Baños Times is produced by the Development Communication 123 (Management of a Community Newspaper) class and published by the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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