International Women’s Day Summit 2019 seeks to advance the rights and representation of Filipino women

(Front row: L-R) SPARK founder Victoria Garchitorena, Swedish Ambassador Harald Fries, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Austrian Ambassador Bita Rasoulian with members of the diplomatic corps and sponsors of the International Women’s Day Summit 2019 on March 8, 2019.

by Emily Manuel
Contributor, Eagle News

(Eagle News) – Various international women’s groups attended the recent annual celebration for International Women’s Month, the International Women’s Day Summit 2019, with the theme “Advancing the Rights and Representation of Filipino Women.”

In the event, held at the Samsung Hall, SM Aura Premier, in Taguig City, last March 8, 2019 women’s rights advocates from various sectors discussed ways to further advance women’s rights and representation in Philippine society.

The summit’s keynote speaker, Vice President Leni Robredo explained how economic empowerment is the first step to real empowerment.

-Economic empowerment-

Vice President Leni Robreda during the International Women’s Day Summit 2019.

“For every woman that is given an opportunity to work, one family doubles its income; for every woman who is able to thrive and succeed, an entire community can be lifted out from poverty,” she says.

Through its program “Angat Buhay,” the Office of the Vice President seeks to increase livelihood and learning opportunities for women as they work towards becoming self-reliant. Trainings focus on teaching women basic skills to run a small business, like recording transactions and searching for raw materials.

One of the beneficiaries of this program, Nanay Laila, a tennun weaver from Lamitan, Basilan, participated in one of the workshops and received a small grant to start her business.

-Violence against women, still prevalent-

Violence against women and girls remains as one of the more prevalent human rights violations in the world, and its costs are not only devastating to the survivor and her family, but also to the community and the state, various other resource speakers explained.

Panel discussion during the International Women’s Day Summit 2019.

Dr. Sylvia Claudio, Dean of CSWCD, University of the Philippines, talked about how words matter and how it can perpetrate misogyny. Kat Alano, founder of Empower, agrees with Dr. Claudio and talked about how pervasive this is in the media.

Attorney Maria Roda Cisnero, Program Officer of the Asia Foundation, discusses the language of the law and how she sees it as changing but still having a long way to go.

-Breaking stereotypes-

Amina Rasul, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, meanwhile, talked about stereotypes and inclusion of women-minorities.

A panel, facilitated by Hans Montenegro, also discussed victim-shaming and ways to prevent it.

The event was hosted by SPARK! Philippines, in partnership with the Embassies of Sweden and Austria, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS), and the Office of the Vice President.

Swedish Ambassador Harald Fries opened this year’s Summit.

In his speech, he explained how four years ago, Sweden launched the first Feminist Government and the first Feminist Foreign Policy in the world.

Their overall gender equality objective is for women and men to have the same power to shape society and their own lives, and for them to enjoy the same rights, representation and resources, he said.