In celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), Safe and Fair Philippines hosted an open dialogue on the Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021 or “Senate Bill 2088” / “House Bill 9059”. The bill seeks to address the gender-differentiated needs of women, including migrant workers, with provisions on the prevention of and response to gender-based violence. Through its national campaign Babaeng BiyaHero, the event aimed to educate attendees on the details of the bill and why it needs to be passed, as well as encourage more Filipinos – men and women alike – to help rally and fast-track its implementation into law.
IDEVAW seeks to raise awareness of the many forms of violence and abuse that women around the world are subjected to on a daily basis. The day is also meant to highlight the scale of these issues and how many of them are often hidden from the public eye. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, gender-based violence has continued to persist for thousands of women and across different spheres – within the homes, the workplace (including abroad), and in public spaces. The at-home situation today has only heightened these problems and brought about new risks for other forms of violence, such as financial and employment vulnerabilities, that have further disproportionately affected marginalized groups of women in and out of work.
“Apart from dealing with the effects of a global health crisis, women all over the world today also continue to experience varying forms of abuse. Many remain at risk without having an avenue or resource to be heard. It is a shadow pandemic that we need to start paying attention to. In every aspect of their lives, women deserve to be heard and to have access to coordinated and quality essential services from legal aid when they experience gender-based violence, to health services including sexual and reproductive health services and livelihood and economic opportunities. Women are affected by the pandemic differently which is what we refer to as ‘gender-differentiated needs.’ Passing SB 2088 and HB 9059 into law is a necessary step towards mitigating violence against women. We urge our legislators to please make its swift enactment into law,” said Charisse Jordan, National Project Officer, UN Women, Safe, and Fair Philippines.
SB 2088/HB 9059 was created to ensure gender-responsive and inclusive protocols that will address different gender-differentiated needs of women during COVID- 19. If implemented as a law, government agencies will have enough power to act on the following:
- Monitoring and data gathering on the realities of women relating to gender-based violence/violence at work.
- Responding to and eliminating gender-based violence/violence at work against women and girls through pandemic policy and decision making, planning, and programming.
- Developing guidelines on practices, protocols, coordination and networking, and education of first responders.
- Ensuring that communications systems, referral systems, protection mechanisms and measures on access to justice and effective remedies by women subject to gender-based violence/violence at work continue to operate during a pandemic.
- Providing shelter and security, resources and support to women and girls subject to violence; and
- Enabling sufficient and effective institutional response for preventing gender-based violence/violence at work during a pandemic.
“As the government continues to formulate rehabilitation programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that the rights of women, both here and abroad, be at the heart of their planning, decision-making, and implementation,” added Jordan.
In addition to advocating for passage, Safe and Fair Philippines continue to offer credible information on services that support the welfare and protection of women migrant workers. The programme remains committed to providing more Filipina migrant workers with reliable, timely updates and assistance that will support them in achieving a safe and fair migration experience. Women migrant workers are encouraged to check out the Babaeng BiyaHero website, a mobile app that assists women by providing them with essential information and services to help them in times of distress or emergency, whether in their countries-of-destination or in the Philippines. Another initiative is the Babaeng BiyaHero Helpline that provides psychosocial support, counseling, and VAW case management for distressed and abused women migrant workers.
The Babaeng BiyaHero campaign calls on government officials, stakeholders, communities, and migrant workers themselves to promote a more equitable, safe, fair, and better normal for every Filipina by ensuring that they are equipped with the knowledge and capability to access effective and timely services that will support them throughout their migration experience. By working together, Safe and Fair Philippines hopes to ensure that a new and better normal is anchored on decent work, gender equality, freedom from violence, and safe and fair labour migration for all Filipino women workers.
Visit and follow the Safe and Fair Philippines Facebook page for more information and the latest updates. Go to the Babaeng BiyaHero website for more information about the situation of Filipina migrant workers, or if you need to contact or report any incidents.