Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Women in the Philippines

History in the making in the Philippines for women.

From Committee News - House of Representatives (Philippines):
"THE COMMITTEE on Labor and Employment under Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo I (2nd District, Valenzuela City) approved in a recent meeting House Bill 1131 which provides for mandatory women and gender education in the workplace.

Authored by Rep. Liza Largoza-Maza (Party List, Gabriela), the proposal requires employers to provide their workers and employees free annual seminars on women's rights, welfare, development and gender equality in the workplace using participatory and non-formal education modules prescribed by the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) and women's organizations.

The bill, which amends Title Four of Book Four of the Labor Code, underscores the value of awareness through education to better prevent or fight crimes against women, including sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace

"A citizenry aware and enlightened on women's rights, welfare and development and gender equality is better equipped to promote and protect women, prevent crimes against women of all ages and eliminate gender and sex discrimination and inequality", the author explained.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party List, GABRIELA) during the meeting in behalf of the author.

Meanwhile, the Committee also discussed three measures aimed at further promoting women's rights and welfare in the workplace.

House Bills 445, 197 and 3465 all seek to expand the list of prohibited acts of discrimination against women in the workforce under the Labor Code of the Philippines (Presidential Decree 442).

The bills, respectively authored by Deputy Speaker Raul V. Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City), Rep. Juan Edgardo M. Angara (Lone District, Aurora) and Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro), will be consolidated to come up with a single version.

In filing the bills, the authors cited the Constitutional provisions recognizing the role of women in nation-building and ensuring the fundamental equality of men and women before the law.

All three measures consider the following discriminatory acts punishable under the Labor Code: the act of giving preference to a male applicant over a female applicant in the hiring process, whether through notices, announcement or advertisements for employment or apprenticeship or in the actual recruitment, hiring or employment of workers where the particular job can be equally handled by a woman; and the act of favoring a male employee over a female employee with respect to dismissal of personnel or the application of any retrenchment policy of the employer solely on account of their sexes.

In filing his bill, Deputy Speaker Del Mar explained that women, perceived by many to be the "weaker sex" despite what they have achieved in all major fields of endeavor, struggle for a place in the competitive job market with this handicap.

With the strict statutory prohibition against any form of discrimination in the hiring process, Rep. del Mar said his bill, "will inject some fairness in the playing field and force men and women to compete on an even keel."

Rep. Angara explained that his bill is but "one step towards departing from the prevailing social and economic inequity in the country."

In pushing for his bill, Rep. Rodriguez cited a study conducted by the Bureau of Women and Young Workers and the National Statistics Office (NSO) which states that generally, women employees earn less than their male counterparts, are predominantly in low-skilled jobs, and only a few advance to the top of the organizational hierarchy.

Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women's Party (DSWP) lauded the intention of the proposed bills and expressed her group's full support.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) representative Evelyn Manangan said that the proposed measures will raise heightened awareness of the rights of a woman as a person."

From GMA News:
"A pending bill on women's rights and gender education in the workplace gained ground in the House of Representatives as it passed second reading.

The House of Representatives website said Monday House Bill 4374 underscores the role of employers and trade unions to help educate and inform workers.

Principally authored by Reps. Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Party-list, the bill aims to amend Article 210 of Presidential Decree 442, the Labor Code of the Philippines.

The bill requires the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to jointly prescribe the regulations for such education programs.

Such programs include women's rights and gender equality; and the rights, benefits, duties and responsibilities of workers.

Employers and trade unions may seek the assistance of government instrumentalities, non-government organizations, labor groups, industry chambers, and other entities concerned with such activities.

"This bill addresses the need for government to enforce the promotion and protection of women workers' rights, welfare and development and gender equality through education seminars in the workplace," Maza said.

Maza lauded women's groups and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that tried to raise awareness about women's rights and gender equality to fight sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

But she said it is still the government that should be primarily responsible for women and gender equality education in conformity with the Constitution's mandate.

"A country aware and enlightened on women's rights, welfare and development and gender equality is better equipped to promote and protect women, prevent crimes against women of all ages and eliminate gender and sex discrimination and inequality," Maza said. - GMANews.TV"

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