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The Gender and Development (GAD) Committee of the Institute for Labor Studies participated during the National Women’s Month Forum held last March 16 at the Quirino Grandstand.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) sponsored the forum titled, “Sama-samang Pagsulong sa Agenda ni Juana” to advocate for women’s rights and the inclusion of gender sensitive issues in the Agenda for Program Development calling for the following changes: Gender balance in leadership and decision making positions in both the public and private-sector; inclusion of women’s concerns in leadership platforms and the government’s development agenda; and capacitating and preparing women and girls to reach their ambitions.

The event hosted by Champagne Morales, commenced at 6:00 am with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem accompanied by an all-women ensemble video showcasing Filipina Empowerment.

PCW Exec. Director Emmeline L. Verzosa gave the opening remarks and provided the audience with an overview of this year’s National Women’s Month theme, which centers on the call for greater inclusion of women in leadership positions.

PCW Chairperson Remedios I. Rikken, introduced the Keynote Speaker for the Forum, Prof. Solita “Mareng Winnie” Monsod, whose talk focused on heeding the call to give great importance to women’s vote.

“Do not vote for those who are morally suspect. Your votes are too expensive and too valuable to be cast for those who do not deserve them, especially those who do not advocate women’s rights,” Prof. Monsod said.

Prof. Monsod also lauded the contribution of women in our society by noting that in the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index that was released by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked 7th among 145 nations, and the highest in the Asia Pacific Region, with respect to gender equality with a score of 79%. Prof. Monsod said that we could further close this gap by recognizing that housework performed by women should be included as part of the employed labor workforce.

The event ended with the participants casting their votes for the agenda items that they would like to get priority attention from the government. These agendas items are anchored in the top five women’s concerns which are: Economic Empowerment, Social Development, Security, Peace and Justice, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Gender Responsive Governance.

All the participants filled up the agenda ballots and placed their thumbprint on the hashtag banners, symbolic of their taking a vote and taking a stand with respect to women’s issues.