Empowering Progress: Philippines Prepares for BPfA+30 with Comprehensive National Consultation

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) turns 30 next year, marking a significant milestone in the global pursuit of gender equality and women empowerment. As part of this commemoration, the Philippines is gearing up for its 30-year progress report on BPfA  implementation. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) is leading this initiative, alongside other government agencies and non-governmental organizations through a  National Steering Committee.

On May 6, 2024, the PCW convened a National Consultation on BPfA Implementation at the Cocoon Boutique Hotel in Quezon City. This gathering brought together technical working groups (TWGs) to assess progress made and challenges encountered. Atty. Khay Ann C. Magundayao-Borlado, Officer-in-Charge of PCW, stressed the importance of  monitoring and evaluating  BPfA’s implementation. She highlighted  stakeholder engagement as a crucial element for achieving transformative change. 

Attorney Khay Ann C. Magundayao-Borlado, Officer-in-Charge of PCW, emphasized the significance of overseeing and assessing the implementation of BPfA. She underscored the essential role of engaging stakeholders in driving transformative progress.

“This approach necessitates the active participation and engagement of all stakeholders — from duty bearers and rights holders to advocates and development partners. Only through the collective efforts and diverse perspectives of our entire society can we truly effect transformative change,” said Atty. Magundayao-Borlado.

Ms. Anette Baleda, Chief GAD Specialist at PCW’s Policy Development, Monitoring, and Evaluation Division, guided the participants through the national review process.

Ms. Anette Baleda, Chief GAD Specialist of PCW’s Policy Development, Monitoring, and Evaluation Division, provided a detailed explanation of the national review process to the participants.

“Governments are recommended to mobilize all their respective branches and levels, and engage civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector, entities of the UN system, regional and international organizations, the academe, the media, and other stakeholders to ensure an inclusive, participatory, transparent and thorough review process at the national and sub-national levels,” Ms. Baleda enthused.

The national review process for the BPfA + 30 commenced in March 2024, followed by a series of TWG meetings for the six dimensions, and sub-national consultations in the Visayas and Mindanao in April.

Ms. Rosalyn “Lenlen” Mesina, the UN Women Philippines Country Coordinator, urged the participants to thoroughly examine the implemented programs aimed at tackling the critical areas of concern outlined in the BPfA.

UN Women Philippines Country Coordinator, Ms. Rosalyn “Lenlen” Mesina, encouraged the participants to really look into the programs implemented that seek to address the critical areas of concerns under the BPfA. “Hindi simpleng papel ang BPfA, hindi simpleng papel ang CEDAW, kayo po ay may mahalagang papel para masiguro na tumatagos ang mga ito sa mga kababaihan,” she urged.

Delving into the consultation proper, the break out sessions included the discussions categorized per dimensions, namely: Dimension 1: Inclusive development, shared prosperity, and decent work; Dimension 2: Poverty eradication, social protection, and social services; Dimension 3: Freedom from violence, stigma, and stereotypes; Dimension 4: Participation, accountability, and gender-responsive institutions; Dimension 5: Peaceful and inclusive societies; and Dimension 6: Environmental conservation, protection, and rehabilitation. 

The Technical Working Groups come together to engage in thorough discussions regarding the various dimensions relevant to their respective areas of focus or expertise.

TWG members presented the highlights of the discussions. For Dimension 1, on Inclusive development, shared prosperity, and decent work, initiatives included the DOLE Labor Inspection Program and TESDA-DOLE/Coca-Cola STAR Program, which support women’s employment and entrepreneurship. The  105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave under the Republic Act 11210 or was also highlighted, emphasizing progress in maternity rights and workplace gender equality.

The discussion then shifted to Dimension 2: poverty eradication, social protection, and social services. Highlights included programs like the TESDA-DOLE/Coca-Cola STAR Program, which provides assistance to women sari-sari store owners and operators, leading to increased revenues and improved business management. Additionally, the positive impact of the Social Protection Program for Adolescent Mothers and Their Children (SPPAMC) on vulnerable groups was noted.

For Dimension 3, on addressing freedom from violence, stigma, and stereotypes, the TWG discussed legislative measures. These includes the Republic Act No. 11930, which addresses online sexual abuse and exploitation of children, strengthening protection for vulnerable groups. Furthermore, included in the discussion is the assessment of Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act to address the highlights and gaps of the law and which would include e-VAW. Additionally,  the enactment of Republic Act 11648 was highlighted – the law which raises the age of determining the commission of statutory rape is raised from 12 to 16 years old. The role of the Safe Spaces Act and the Bawal Bastos Law in combating sexual harassment and violence in public spaces was also emphasized.

Efforts in participation, accountability, and gender-responsive institutions were recognized in Dimension 4. Initiatives such as the Angat Bayi Program , aimed at promoting women’s political participation and leadership, were highlighted. Additionally, training programs for local leaders acknowledged for their impact on grassroots empowerment. Utilization of various platforms to popularize the contents of women-related laws and commitments, implementation and monitoring of compliance to the GAD Budget Policy and the issuance of updated policy were also noted.  Furthermore the presence of the Commission of Human Rights as Gender Ombud as contributing to gender-responsive governance.

Strategies for peaceful and inclusive societies were developed in line with Dimension 5, including the National Action Plan for Women, Peace, and Security, ensuring women’s participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Initiatives like the Philippine Army’s Gender-based Violence Referral System (GBVRS) were highlighted for their comprehensive support to victim-survivors and alleged perpetrators.

Lastly, for Dimension 6, TWG members presented efforts toward environmental conservation, protection, and rehabilitation. Climate-resilient programs like the Climate-resiliency Field School benefited women, by empowering them with knowledge and skills for sustainable livelihoods amidst environmental challenges. Recognition awards and initiatives like the Earthpreneur Award and Women in Biodiversity Conservation Awards were noted for promoting women’s roles in environmental conservation.

TWG members presented the highlights of the discussions in the six dimensions, covering progress made, highlights of the implementation, as well as challenges faced.

The consultation also highlighted the ongoing challenges faced, including the impact of crises like COVID-19, gender-based violence facilitated by technology, and the need to address discrimination against marginalized groups of women and girls.

Ms. Honey Castro, Acting Deputy Executive Director for Management Services, concluded the national consultation by announcing that PCW will arrange Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings the following week and/or distribute draft copies for review until the report is completed.

Ms. Honey Castro, OIC Deputy Executive Director for Management Services, wrapped up the national consultation, explaining that the PCW will convene TWG meetings the next week and/or send copies of the draft for vetting, until the report is finalized. 

“We would also like to invite you in advance to the launching of the report in the third quarter of this year. We hope to see not only familiar faces but also more stakeholders at the grassroots and community level to strengthen our collective efforts in achieving all goals within the 12 critical areas of concern,” said Ms. Castro.

Looking ahead, stakeholders pledged their commitment to accelerating progress for women and girls through strategic policies and programs. The national report on BPfA+30 progress is set for submission on June 1, 2024, underscoring the Philippines’ dedication to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Pledge of commitment and ceremonial signing signifying the support of the stakeholders to accelerating progress for women and girls through the effective implementation of the BPfA.

As the world marks 30 years since the Beijing Declaration, this national consultation reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to realizing the goals outlined in the BPfA, ensuring that no one is left behind in the journey towards equality, development, and peace for all women and girls.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) stands as a historic achievement in 1995. This global agreement, forged at the 4th World Conference on Women, outlined a roadmap for achieving gender equality and empowering women worldwide. The BPfA identified twelve key areas demanding action, including combating poverty for women, ensuring their access to education, prioritizing their health, and eradicating violence against them. It also addressed women’s roles in conflict zones, economic empowerment, leadership positions, and environmental sustainability. Protecting the rights of girls was another crucial focus area.

The Philippines actively contributes to the BPfA’s goals. In 2015, the country submitted its”Philippine Progress Report on implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action,” which highlighted the  achievements and challenges from 1995-2013. This report not only assessed progress but also addressed emerging issues relevant to the post-2015 development agenda.

For the most recent report (2019), the Philippines submitted the “BPfA+25 Progress Report.” This report not only assessed ongoing challenges but also  celebrated significant strides made in gender equality and women empowerment. Moreover, it explored how these efforts contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The launch of this report coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Magna Carta of Women, a key piece of Philippine legislation promoting women’s rights.

Through these reports and ongoing efforts, the Philippines demonstrates its commitment to the BPfA’s vision of a world where women and girls enjoy equal opportunities and thrive.