Press Release
April 19, 2018

Legarda Discusses Women Empowerment Issues at IMF Coffee Chat

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the gains of the Philippines in closing the gender gap while also identifying areas where stronger push for women empowerment is needed.

Legarda was a panelist at the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Gender Coffee Chat on "Advocating for Women's Empowerment: Voices from the Field", which is part of the 2018 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group.

"The Philippines has been consistently number one in Southeast Asia and one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of closing the gender gap. This is because of the pieces of legislation we crafted, policies and programs of the Executive department, and even the work of non-government organizations to protect the interests of our women," said Legarda.

The Senator shared relevant laws she authored for the protection of women--the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act to protect women and children against trafficking, prostitution and slavery. It was amended in 2012 to include harsher penalties against violators and to address the new challenges brought by human trafficking, such as online sexual exploitation; The Magna Carta of Women, patterned after the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), sets the framework for policies for the protection of women. It guarantees social, economic, civil and political rights of women; and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act to protect women and children from domestic violence and abuse.

She added that the Philippines also has the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the Community Livelihood and Skills Training Act, which support rural livelihood development, including those engaged in traditional industries such as weaving and crafts-making, which are mostly done by rural and indigenous women.

Legarda, however, said that despite the Philippines doing well in terms of closing gender gap, there are continuing challenges to be addressed.

"It is unfortunate that Filipino women and children continue to become victims of human trafficking, including online sexual exploitation. In fact, the Philippines is the number one global source of child pornography. But this is not due to the lack of domestic laws, rather, the absence of stricter penalties for human traffickers and online sexual predators from other nations," she stressed.

The Senator also raised the issue of vulnerability of women to natural hazards and climate change impacts, which can be addressed by empowering women and engaging them in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation in their communities.

"We also need to strengthen access to education, reproductive healthcare, and livelihood opportunities. Even if policies are in place, we need to do more especially in reaching out to those in the rural areas," Legarda said.

"We recognize the stark contrast between empowered Filipino women in the cities versus the rural women who lack opportunities. Women, especially those in the countryside, should have access to capital for micro enterprises for economic empowerment. We need to provide viable income alternatives to women and allow them to participate in livelihood and other economic activities," Legarda concluded.

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, is the Alternate Head of the Philippine Delegation to the 2018 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., USA.

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