Press Release
February 28, 2010

Pia Cayetano puts busy campaign on hold to address United Nations
and US Congress

Philippine Senator Pia S. Cayetano will temporarily put on hold her hectic campaign schedule this week to fly to the United States to address officials of the United Nations and members of the US Congress as part of an international campaign to push for greater women's participation in governance and lawmaking. Cayetano, currently the President of the Committee of Women Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), will chair the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York slated on March 2.

Elected to the prestigious post in 2008, the lady senator is the first Filipino and Asian to head a major committee in the world body's 121-year history.

The international conference is jointly hosted by IPU and the UN Division on the Advancement of Women. Among those expected to grace the conference are members of parliament from the 151 member-states of the IPU, as well as hundreds of country-representatives to the UN.

Cayetano, who is running for reelection under the Nacionalista Party, has consistently placed among the top-notchers in the pre-election senatorial surveys of local polling firms.

On March 3, Cayetano will join IPU Secretary General Anders Johnson of Sweden in a briefing with foreign media correspondents at the UN Headquarters to give a report on the IPU's latest findings on the status of women's access to parliaments and governments around the world. The IPU has been actively campaigning on its member-states to promote greater women participation and membership in their respective parliaments.

On March 4, Cayetano will proceed to Washington as one of the speakers at the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues, which will brief members of the US Congress on the IPU's annual report, "World Map of Women in Politics 2010."

"In the Philippines, as in most other countries around the world, there is a need to consciously and continuously push for greater women participation in politics, particularly in lawmaking. Women bring a different perspective to governance and legislation. They see things differently because of their experiences and background as women. True democracy and prosperity requires gender equality at all levels and in all sectors of society," Cayetano stressed.

Despite major strides in gender equality, the senator said the number of women around the world holding key positions in parliaments remains minuscule. IPU data as of December 31, 2009 shows that on the average, women parliamentarians make up barely a fifth (18.7 percent) of the combined membership of lawmaking bodies around the world.

By region, the highest average of women legislators can be found in Nordic countries where they make up 42 percent of parliament. In the Americas, it is 22.4 percent, Asia 18.7 percent, and Sub-Saharan Africa 17.7 percent. The lowest average of women membership can be found in the Pacific (13.2 percent) and Arab states (10.1 percent).

In the Philippines, there are only four women in the 23-member Senate, while women make up only about 25 percent of the total membership of the House of Representatives.

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