Women groups hail ‘triple wins,’ but warn of complacency

IN AN EXCEPTIONALLY rare coincidence, the country’s organized women will celebrate not one but three “victories” that were successively achieved a few months before today’s observance of the International Women’s Day (IWD).

While delighted with the ratification of the “Domwork” Convention and the enactment into law of erstwhile “Kasambahay” and RH bills – which all happened in a span of five months, excluding the decades of campaigns to legislate them – the Sentro ng mga Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro)-Women cautioned that there should be no let up in the struggle for gender equality and women empowerment.

The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)-Women added that these landmark laws are still not perfect and must be guarded from violators and even “saboteurs.”

“For instance, the RH Law, despite already been passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by Aquino, is still being questioned through obviously concerted petitions in the Supreme Court,” the APL-Women said.

Sentro-Women likewise deplored the “absurd, desperate and bigoted” moves of a few ultraconservative elements in using religion not only to oppose the candidates in the May elections who backed the then RH bill, but also by grouping the latter into “Team Patay” (death).

“It’s as if those who disagreed with the RH bill have the monopoly to the ‘pro-life’ tag, which is actually one of the values being adhered to by the RH Law,” the women trade unionists from Sentro lamented.

The women union members acknowledged that women – home-based or domestic workers inside the country and abroad, mothers, wives, etc. – will primarily benefit from the said three laws that were only recently approved.

Women comprised the overwhelming majority of the estimated half a million Philippine domestic workers who work mostly in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan; as well as those almost 2 million working inside the country.

Issues and concerns on reproductive health and functions have of course been centered on women, and they comprise at least the “better half” of parenthood.

The “Domwork” (or Domestic Work) Convention of the International Labor Organization – formally, Convention No. 189 (C189) or the Decent Work for Domestic Workers – was passed during ILO’s 100th International Conference in Geneva on June 16 last year. The Philippine Senate promptly ratified it the following Aug. 6, making the country the second in the world, after Uruguay, to do it.

Its “local counterpart,” the “Kasambahay” Law, after getting bicameral nod in Congress, was signed by President Aquino on Jan. 18 this year becoming Republic Act No. 10361 or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers.

The highly contentious RH bill, after about 12 years in four Congresses, was finally approved by both Houses in the outgoing 15th Congress and signed by Aquino last Dec. 21 as RA 10354 or theResponsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

Sentro and APL lauded their affiliate organizations, especially the women members, as well as the many other mass organizations and NGOs that provided the crucial and relentless “outside” support for the lawmakers who sponsored or voted for the said three groundbreaking laws.

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