UNCSW 68 Feedback Forum calls to action alleviating poverty, creating gender-responsive social and financial inclusion programs

UNCSW68 Delegates:  Some members of the Philippine delegation for the 68th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) posed for a photo during the Feedback Forum held at the Hive Hotel, Quezon City on May 17, 2024.

After chairing the 68th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City, the Philippine Delegation led by the Philippine Commission on Women echoed the agreed conclusions of the important annual women convention on invited key select National Government Agencies (NGAs), Civic Society Organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders during the hybrid feedback forum held at the Hive Hotel Convention Place in Quezon City.

A short background on UNCSW and the Philippines’ Chairship for 2024

The UNCSW established in June 1946, is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serving as the worldwide intergovernmental agency exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment (GEWE).

The annual event has been instrumental in advancing women’s rights, and the presentation of vital information gathered from different countries that reflect the realities of women in various parts of the world, which shaped the standards and recommended several valuable changes that promote gender inclusivity and societal equality.

The Commission serves as a forum for different sectors, CSOs, and governmental and international institutions to discuss major issues anchored on annually-set priority and reviewed themes through ministerial round tables, interactive dialogues, bilateral meetings, side events, and formulation and negotiations of the agreed conclusions that serve as action plans to solve the issues raised during the sessions.

For almost three decades, the CSW has led the monitoring and review of progress and challenges in implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), and in mainstreaming a gender perspective in different UN-initiated activities.

Additionally, to further accelerate the realization of GEWE, the Commission now includes the reporting on the adoption and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The priority theme for the 68th session of UNCSW is “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective” while the review theme is: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” which has become the main messaging for the agreed conclusions.

The Philippines Delegation (PhilDel), headed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), served as the lead of the country’s chairship for this year’s convention.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs through the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) lead some of the sessions of the 68th CSW, and the active participation of the  PhilDel Team composed of the following NGAs:

  1. Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
  2. Presidential Communications Office (PCO)
  3. Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)
  4. Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA)
  5. Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
  6. Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)
  7. House of Representatives Committee on Women and Gender Equality (HOR CWGE)
  8. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
  9. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
  10. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
  11. Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
  12. National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)

Joining the PhilDel were select representatives from private companies and CSOs namely:

  1. Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
  2. Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB)
  3. Women and Gender Studies of the Philippines (WSAP)
  4. Women and Gender Institute (WAGI), Miriam College
  5. Youth Representative / Capital1 Solar Energy, Inc.
  6. Coca-Cola Philippines (for its STAR and iSTAR program)

PCW, NGAs echoing the 68th UNCSW’s Agreed Conclusions to the Filipinos

Stronger Collaboration:  PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann C. Magundayao-Borlado delivers her opening message during the hybrid feedback Forum on CSW68 attended by government agencies, civic society organizations, and other stakeholders.

In her opening speech, PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann C. Magundayao-Borlado thanked the participating agencies who sent their representatives to the annual convention as part of the invaluable strive to achieve gender equality and empower all women across all sectors.
She stressed the importance of stronger collaboration of both private and public sectors through the feedback forum and help in implementing the agreed conclusions to the benefit of the Filipino people.

“Today, we hope to go beyond the limited number of members of the Philippine delegation and to reach those who are relevant to the commitments made to achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of gender financing, strengthening institutions, and addressing poverty” said Atty. Magundayao-Borlado.

She further stated that implementing the recommendations in the agreed conclusions demonstrates the country’s commitment to promoting women’s rights and aligning national priorities with international goals and commitments.

Ms. Anita Baleda, Chief Gender and Development Specialist of the Policy Development, Planning, and Monitoring and Evaluation Division of PCW discussed what UNCSW is and its significance in effecting change towards gender equality and women empowerment

For the overview of the recently concluded 68th UNCSW, Chief Gender and Development Specialist of the Policy Development, Planning, and Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PDPMED), Ms. Anita Baleda, hopes that government agencies can use the agreed conclusion to improve and strengthen their gender-responsive programs in alleviating poverty and creating opportunities for greater equality and inclusivity.

Undersecretary Goddes Hope Libiran, the Supervising Senior Official of the Media Affairs and Community Relations Office of the Department of Budget and Management delivered her speech emphasizing the initiatives of the Philippine Government in promoting financial and economic empowerment

Speaking on behalf of the lead agency of the PhilDel, Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) Media Affairs and Community Relations Office Supervising Senior Official Undersecretary GoddessHope Libiran proudly shared the good practices done by the country in promoting and realizing gender parity and financial inclusivity through gender-responsive initiatives like gender-responsive budgeting translated and operationalized by the Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women and the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Plan 2019 to 2025.

“Gender tagging or gender-responsive budgeting is a strategy that creates budgets that work for everyone…By considering and analyzing the unique and diverse needs of every member of society, gender-responsive budgets ensure that all citizens benefit equally from government resources” Undersecretary Libiran said.

DBM’s media relations officer also provided updates on the government’s financial inclusive programs aimed at closing the economic gap. These initiatives include the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps, the provision of loan access to 68% of the country’s women Micro, Small, and Medium Entrepreneurs or MSMEs, and the mandated allocation of at least five (5) percent of the government agencies for GEWE programs and activities.

“Deepening our understanding of the status of women’s rights and empowerment will support us in attaining substantive development outcomes. Under Bagong Pilipinas, let us altogether work hand in hand in promoting an inclusive, future-proof, and sustainable economy where no Filipino is left behind – including and most especially women” Undersecretary Libiran said as she concluded DBM’s pledge of support for the feedback forum.

Panel Discussions

Healthy and inclusive discussions: (Front left to right) Undersecretary Emerald Ridao of the Presidential Communications Office joins panelists Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine B. Roman, Assistant Secretary Diana L. Ignacio Department of Science and Technology, and Ms. Mylene H. Somera, a representative from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, as they shared their key takeaways on the implementation of the CSW68 Agreed Conclusion

To foster healthy and inclusive discussions between sectors, members of the Philippine Delegation shared their key takeaways and personal reflections on their participation in a series of meetings and side events during the 68th UN CSW event.

The first session of the panel discussions moderated by Presidential Communication Office Undersecretary Emeral Ridao focused on the sharing of experiences and commitments of the selected government officials who were part of the PhilDel.

Bataan First District Representative and the Chairperson of House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, Geraldine Roman remarked that the Philippines has nothing to envy about its regional neighbors, as the country is significantly advanced in passing gender-responsive legislation.
We have adopted a very dynamic, people-centered, and gender-responsive work ethic in doing legislative functions. Pinag-iisipan pa lang nila, ginagawa na natin” Representative Roman proudly said.

Roman also shared that the House is actively working and prioritizing the passage of key legislations for women’s empowerment and wider participation in leadership and governance. These include bills on quota systems for political parties and government positions to ensure a 40 percent representation for women, repealing discriminatory provisions of the Family Code; and the reinstitution of absolute divorce.

On the issues of women in Information Communication and Technology, Assistant Secretary Diana Ignacio of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) shared the initiatives undertaken by their agency when it comes to the utilization of Artificial intelligence and data annotation programming in upskilling women for economic use.

DOST Assistant Secretary Ignacio also expressed gratitude to the UNCSW for co-organizing a side event titled “Mind the GAP (Gender and Poverty)”, a forum on gender mainstreaming in Science, Technology, and Innovation for the economic empowerment of women and girls. This is a vital component of the international event to widen the participation of women from various sectors, as well as engaging the public and other international partners.

Concerning the use of technology for economic development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) representative Mylene Somera emphasized the Philippines’ commitment to digital inclusion. She highlighted the agency’s  programs on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) viewing it as a means to encourage greater participation of women in the digital economy.

Ms. Somera also underscored the importance of digitalizing government procedures to enhance transparency and accountability in the bureaucracy. Moreover, she emphasized that the effectiveness of digitalization measures hinges on expanding partnerships with the private sector.

During the discussions, government representatives elaborated on the issue of the feminization of poverty, which encompasses various home burdens such as unpaid and underpaid care work, lack of incentives for their work, limited access to educational and financial opportunities, and inadequate reproductive and personal health care.

Given the realities highlighted by the participants, Representative Roman calls for an immediate response through effective policies inclusive to all.

Sharing their experiences: (Front left to right) Ms. Maria Clara B. Ignacio, iSTAR Representative of the Coca-Cola Philippines;  Dr. Excelsa C. Tongson, President, Women and Gender Studies of the Philippines; Ms. Amparo Miciano Sykioco, the Secretary-General, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan; and Ms. Jelen Paclarin, Executive Director, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau actively engaged the questions raised by the participants regarding their experiences during the UNCSW68.

In the second session, private sector members of the PhilDel were allowed to share their experiences and learnings that they may take to the grassroots and present opportunities for collaboration with government agencies tasked to implement the agreed conclusions.

The UNSCW according to Ms. Amparo Miciano Sykioco, the Secretary-General of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan served as a platform for discussing established global women’s policy directions to promote human rights. She emphasized the importance of language debates and comprehensive discourse on actions to be included in the agreed conclusions.

Ms. Sykioco suggested unifying the language used to communicate the advocacies of the CSOs in the international stage. On the other hand, she gladly shares how they actively promote the initiatives of the Filipino CSOs in addressing the issue of multiple and intercepting forms of discrimination and concerns of women, rooted in the real situations on the ground.

Dr. Excelsa C. Tongson, a first-time PhilDel participant and president of the Women and Gender Studies of the Philippines, shared their collaborative efforts with other women’s human rights defenders and their exposure to the realities of women in other countries. With  CSW including the review of the 30th-year implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, Dr. Tongson mentioned that their organization will prepare a parallel report on progress and setbacks in the education sector.

Dr. Tongson emphasized the crucial role of quality and inclusive education in empowering women, enabling them to build confidence and to assume leadership roles and community development activities. 

Ms. Maria Clara Ignacio, representing iSTAR from the Coca-Cola Philippines, highlighted the potential of digital transformation to create opportunities for women across various sectors and communities, thus mitigating marginalization and discrimination. Ms. Ignacio commended PhilDel’s innovative actions on program framework and narrative reports, which fostered  rigorous collaboration among stakeholders 

All CSO representatives stressed the importance of having permanent leadership in the government agencies to ensure effective and consistent response, and coordination with other stakeholders. Discussions also centered on adopting progressive language to communicate GEWE consistently and facilitate harmonious participant exchanges.

Ms. Sykioco added the importance of including representatives from the marginalized sectors to the UNCSW sessions to provide fresh perspectives from the grassroots.

CSO representatives also agreed on the importance of early preparations to harmonize the messaging of the presentations of the PhilDel on the future CSWs.

Presentation of the Agreed Conclusions and the steps to look forward

Atty. Khay Ann C. Magundayao-Borlado, PCW’s Officer-In-Charge shared and discussed the Agreed Conclusions of the UNCSW 68

Concluding the discussion among government agencies, CSOs, and other stakeholders, PCW Officer-in-Charge Atty. Khay Ann Magundayao-Borlado presented the agreed conclusion. These urged appropriate government institutions and agencies,  in line with their respective mandates, and in coordination and partnership with various sectors, to take actions on the (1) protection of the human rights of women and girl child; (2) implementation of the international agreements and treaties that protects and ensures women’s human rights; (3) issues on labor and employment; (4) financing for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls; (5) women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation at decision-making and leadership levels in the economy; (6) eliminating violence and discrimination in all its forms; (7) examination of the impacts of poverty and programs for its eradication; (8) climate change and environmental degregation; (9) protection of women and girls in different forms of conflict and gender-based violence; (10) emergency and disaster mitigation; (11) promotion and enforcement of non-discriminatory laws, social infrastructure and policies; and (12) leadership and participation of women in decision-making in the government.

Getting ready for the next CSW: Ms. Lia Macadangdang, the Desk Officer of the Socio-Cultural Division for UN and International Organization of the Department of Foreign Affairs discussed the next steps for the preparations for the UNCSW69

As the stakeholders act on their respective commitments to the Agreed Conclusion, preparations for the 69th session of the Commission on the Status of Women are underway.  Ms. Lia Macadangdang, the Desk Officer of the Socio-Cultural Division for UN and International Organization of the Department of Foreign Affairs, discussed the theme for next year: “Review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action”.

The main focus of the next UN CSW session will be on the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. The review will include an assessment of current challenges affecting the implementation of the BPfA, the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women, and its contribution towards the full realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“It was an honor for me and for the Philippines to Chair the CSW” – Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN in New York, Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo extended his utmost gratitude to the members of the Philippine Delegation for the success of the country’s Chairship of the UN CSW68

Before concluding the multisectoral feedback forum, Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN in New York and the Chairperson of the CSW68 expressed his appreciation for the untiring efforts of government agencies, CSOs, and private sector representatives in ensuring the Chairship of the Philippines a success.

“I commend our agencies and officials, our youth delegates, and private sector partners for the successful conduct of the site events that the Philippines organized. I also thanked colleagues who served as speakers in the side events that the Philippines co-sponsored.” Ambassador Lagdameo said.

“Through our engagement, we have raised the visibility and credibility of the Philippines. Our chairship may have ended, but our work here has only just begun” Ambassador Lagdameo’s parting words for all the participants in the hybrid feedback forum.

CSW69 is set to be held on March 10-21, 2025 at the UN Headquarters in New York.