(Philippines) Department of Education issues

gender-responsive basic education policy.

The Department of Education (DepEd) issued a gender-responsive basic education policy (DepEd Order No. 32, s. 2017) that “commits to integrate the principles of gender equality, gender equity, gender sensitivity, non-discrimination and human rights in the provision and governance of basic education”. Signed by Undersecretary Alberto T. Muyot, DepEd Undersecretary, the policy specifically “seeks to enable DepEd to undertake gender mainstreaming in education to address both enduring and emerging gender and sexuality-related issues in basic education, to promote the protection of children from all forms of gender-related violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination and bullying, and to promote gender equality and non-discrimination in the workplace and within DepEd”. The policy also – finally – broadens DepEd’s gender and development (GAD) programs by tackling not only women’s issues, but also of other sexual minorities. The policy specifically makes use of the more inclusive definitions of “gender identity” and “gender expression” to be respectful of people of different SOGIE. Among the other (and more specific) highlights of the policy include: Enforcement and compliance with RA 9710 on non-expulsion of women faculty and female learners who become pregnant outside of marriage; Implementation of sexual and reproductive health services in every school; Formulation of policies to boost women’s participation in sports; Provision of facilities for differently-abled people; Establishment of media network and mechanism to disseminate GAD-related information/advocacy campaigns; Establishment of VAWC desk in schools; and Provision of breastfeeding stations and child-minding stations. With the policy, the LGBT community is getting highlighted. For instance, DepEd now eyes to include in the school calendar the observance/celebration of LGBT Pride Month. A Complaint/Grievance Committee is established to deal with violations of the policy. DepEd is similarly eyeing to institutionalize GAD Focal Point System to “strengthen gender and development institutional mechanisms”. With the policy ordered to be immediately disseminated and strictly implemented, the onus is now on schools to implement the same.

For this year’s Women’s Day Celebration, the FFW Women’s Network (FWN) gathered for a “Discussion on Women’s Issues and Concerns; and a Forum on Maternity Protection.” Local union presidents from different FFW umbrella organizations were present at the time, showed their full support to their women members who are courageously fighting for their rights inside and outside of their workplaces. The gathering started with a prayer led by Ma Cristina Halamane, FWN vice president for Luzon, followed by the National anthem led by Miravilar Cabrera, FWN secretary. This was then followed by the welcome remarks of Ms. Vicky Bellosillo, FWN President. In her message, Ms. Bellosillo shared how she was encouraged by the rise in the number of women national and local trade union leaders. She hopes that the trend will continue.

At the open forum which focused on the different issues that women have in their own locality the following were highlighted:

    • absence of women’s committee in many local unions
    • vulnerability of women in the workplace
    • lack of knowledge of women about their rights.

    At the end of the forum, the representatives agreed to set up a women’s committee when they return to their own local unions and help other unions establish theirs. Moreover, a new membership form was distributed to the attendees to monitor the number of women in their workplaces, which they will then submit to FWN to create database. This is an important reference in order for the FWN monitor the women in each local union and that they can contact the chair of each committee for trainings and seminars to be planned.

    Maternity Protection

    Mr. Dan Laserna of the FFW delivered a presentation about maternity protection so as to help educate the women about their rights as enshrined in ILO Convention 183. The said Convention states that a country should have a minimum of 14 weeks of maternity leave and one or more daily breaks or a reduction of hours of work for breastfeeding. Since this convention is not yet ratified in the country, Mr. Laserna highlighted that all women should support and promote this convention not only in the workplace but also participate in gatherings that promote this convention. Mr. Julius Cainglet, FFW vice president for research, advocacy and partnerships, presented the Maternity Protection Bill that has been passed by the Senate. Among others, the bill proposes 120 days of maternity leave for normal/caesarian delivery; and 150 days for single parents with pay. Mr. Cainglet also explained that 30 days of a woman worker’s maternity leave may be transferred to her spouse. If without a spouse, she can opt to pass this on to her common-law partner or relative up to the fourth degree of consanguinity, depending on who the woman worker chooses to pass it on to.

    Capacity Building

    Ms. Bellosillo opened a survey on what kind of seminars, trainings or activities do the representatives want for their local unions. The following were some of the ideas that the representatives stated:

      • Breastfeeding in the workplace
      • Anti sexual harassment
      • Anti-Bullying in the workplace
      • Gynecological problems
      • Law regarding Maternity Protection
      • ILO Convention 183
      • Creation of cooperatives
      • Entrepreneurial skills for women

      The local presidents then agreed to conduct a seminar together with FWN after their respective women’s committee has been established.

      A message of solidarity from Atty. Sonny Matula, FFW President was delivered at the close of the Women’s Day event. He congratulated every woman present in the gathering for standing strong and continually supporting FFW as they march forward towards the future where equality of genders is practiced. He also thanked the local presidents for supporting the women in their locals to be a part of their organizational framework. He emphasized that men and women working together will bring better results rather than men discriminating women. He added that the curiosity, wisdom and intuition of a woman are highly needed in any organization.

      DOLE representatives also gave their short presentation about Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Law. They encouraged the representatives to inform their local unions about this law and help every woman and children to overcome violence. They also stated that no one should not be discriminated nor his or her rights be violated because of gender. The VAWC Law (RA 9262) provides 10 days leave with pay for survivors of violence which can be used for medical and legal purposes.