In accordance with the 16-day action against gender-based violence, an international campaign established by the first Women Leadership Institute at Reuters University in 1991, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 1172 in 2006.
Prior to that, the Philippines Government, led by the Philippine Commission on Women, has already been joining the global campaign since 2002. The international campaign annually begins on November 25, which is also the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (VAW) and ends on December 10, International Human Rights Day—aiming to underscore that VAW is a human rights violation and ensure survivors and victims of violence for protection.
Under Proclamation 1172, however, it has extended the national campaign for two more days until December 12, this is to include the historic signing date of the UN Protocol on preventing, suppressing, and punishing human trafficking, especially women and children.
In 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General launched the UNiTE to End VAW Campaign, further strengthening the vision of eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls around the globe.
1 in 4 Filipina
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 3 women (35%) worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or non-partner in their lifetime. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the 2017 National Demographic Health Survey indicated that 1 in 4 Filipino women, aged 15-49, have experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual violence from their husbands or partner.
Identified as one of the country’s pervasive social problems, numerous initiatives have been conceived and implemented to address VAW; and one of which is the 18-day campaign.
This advocacy campaign supports and protects the rights of women and girls by “upholding to address all forms of gender-based violence as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Consequently, all government agencies are mandated to raise awareness and eliminate all forms of violence.
Begins with Me
In coordination with Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Children (IACVAWC), the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) is working on leading, monitoring and evaluating this 18-day annual nationwide observance and campaign.
In this year’s theme “VAW-free community starts with Me” for the year 2016 to 2021, the campaign emphasizes each member of the community to be involved through commitment and contribution to ending VAW. Also, the campaign strives to continue to feature “the significant role of an individual, especially the youth, in fighting violence against women and girls within various institutions.”
By empowering individuals on what their rights are and how to stand rooted in it, as well as to be educated where to seek help, can reduce incidents of VAW across the country.
Moreover, the PCW also shared 18 things that we can do to help end VAW. Take a look at the enumerated things below:
1. Empower yourself. Know your rights and available courses of action in case these rights are violated.
2. Speak out and report to the authorities in case your rights are violated.
3. Encourage others to fight for their rights.
4. Respect women and girls in your home, workplace, and community.
5. Join male groups promoting Anti-VAW efforts and participate in discussions to broaden your awareness of the advocacy.
6. Enlighten/advise perpetrators to seek help and join the male Anti-VAW supporters.
7. Equip yourselves with apt training and capacity development sessions to improve service delivery for your clients.
8. Develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy to assess the service to your clients’ supporters.
9. Let people know that you provide the services! We need to inform the public that there are government offices that they can turn to and trust to assist them towards healing and seeking justice.
10. Ensure that your Barangay VAW Desk is functional. You can use the Barangay VAW Desk Handbook developed by PCW and DILG with partner agencies to guide you on what to do.
11. Establish linkages with local and national government agencies, as well as other organizations near your barangay where you can refer victim-survivors of VAW for needed assistance which the barangay is not able to provide.
12. Promote harmonious family and community relationships in your barangay, grounded on mutual respect for human rights, and take proactive steps to attain a VAW-free community.
13. Support the Anti-VAW efforts of the government and your immediate community.
14. Establish your own Action Desks where employees and clients can go to in case VAW happens.
15. Develop internal rules to proactively ensure that your workplace is VAW-free.
16. Include concepts of VAW and women’s human rights in lesson plans/lesson guides of your teaching staff
17. Continually conduct/spearhead anti-VAW advocacies in your campus, and if possible, to your immediate community through extension programs.
18. Set Up a Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) where students and employees can seek help
—(Source: Philippine Commission on Women)