To strengthen the mainstreaming of gender equality, Senator Leila M. de Lima has reintroduced a measure creating a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee that would monitor strict compliance to Republic Act (RA) No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

In filing Senate Bill (SB) No. 627, De Lima said the present laws on the protection of women and the mainstreaming of gender equality should not only be enforced and followed to the letter but also strengthened and accelerated.

“Gender mainstreaming must be accomplished with urgency, so as not to institutionalize the current administration leadership’s dehumanization of women in society, particularly of women leaders in government,” she said.

“Only through a consistent and conscientious implementation of the Magna Carta of Women can government and Philippine society be truly rid of gender bias and the rampant misogynism that have presently reared their ugly heads in our midst once again,” she added.

Note that gender mainstreaming is a strategy which aims for the inclusion and prioritization of women’s concerns and perspectives within agencies through the creation of gender-responsive programs tailored to positively impact both women and men.

RA No. 9710 provides the legal basis for the planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation for Gender and Development (GAD) program of a national government agency (NGA) or local government unit (LGU).

Yet despite a law in place, De Lima said she is dismayed that “the overall statistics show that utilization of the appropriated GAD budget has not reached its full potential” as some implementing agencies fall behind in fulfilling this obligation.

According to a Commission on Audit (COA) report, out of 19 GAD programmed activities in the Office of the President in 2016, only six were implemented with a total cost of PhP532,406.00 or 0.019 percent of the total appropriations of the agency.

“This failure to utilize the appropriated budget for gender mainstreaming reflects on the work that has still to be done in order to inculcate the value and importance of gender equality and women empowerment in the government workplace and in society in general,” said De Lima.

Under SB No. 627, which seeks to amend Section 40 of RA No. 9710, the oversight committee shall be composed of five members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives in addition to the chairs of the committees on women, children, and gender equality, who shall be co-chairs of the oversight committee.

De Lima, recognized by Amnesty International (AI) as one of the women human rights defenders under threat in the Philippines, noted that the membership of the committee for the two Houses of Congress shall at least have two opposition or minority members each.

She further proposed that the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights shall be an ex-officio member of the said oversight committee to complement the agency’s function as Gender and Development Ombud.

In the previous 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 670 calling for a Senate inquiry into the implementation of the GAD plans and programs under the Duterte administration.

Photo Credit: facebook.com/leiladelimaofficial