Press Release
March 8, 2010

International Women's Day
Pia: Support 'pro-women' candidates and political parties

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today urged Filipino voters to support pro-women candidates and 'women-empowered' political parties in the coming May elections to ensure that the interest and issues of women are given high priority in the next administration.

Cayetano, one of five women candidates seeking a Senate seat under the Nacionalista Party (NP), made the call to mark March 8, International Women's Day.

"Voters should carefully study the track record of candidates, particularly their stand on women's concerns. Regardless of whether they are male or female, the candidate should have a clear platform that looks after issues affecting women, including maternal health, the declining state of public health services, feminization of labor migration, gender discrimination, violence against women, poverty and trafficking."

A deeper and more diverse field of male and female candidates would give voters better options and higher chances of pushing for genuine reforms in the 2010 elections, added Cayetano, principal author of the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) and current president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's committee of women parliamentarians.

She noted that the NP slate boasts of a woman vice presidential candidate in Loren Legarda and five women senatorial bets, the most in any of the political parties fielding a full national slate in the coming elections: Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Gabriela Representative Liza Maza, children's rights advocate Gwen Pimentel, migrant labor rights' champion Toots Ople, and herself.

She added that the NP's standard-bearer himself, Sen. Manny Villar, has a known track record of pushing for women's rights and helping abused and distressed Filipina workers overseas.

Cayetano is also urging more women to seek elective posts from the national down to the local level. Of the 17,385 elected public officials from the national to the local levels, men comprise an overwhelming 82.7 percent (14,369 positions) compared to women who make up only 17.3 percent (3,106 positions).

She noted that women comprise only four of the current 23 members of the Senate (17.4 percent) and occupy 51 out of 240 seats in the House of Representatives (21.3 percent).

The ratio is even smaller for elected women at the local level. The gender breakdown for local government posts are as follows: Governors (62 men, 18 women); Vice Governor (67 men, 13 women); Board Members (635 men, 123 women); Mayors (1,319 men, 273 women); Vice Mayors (1,362 men, 230 women); and Councilors (10,776 men, 3,016 women).

In the government civil service, she noted that while the bulk of women civil servants are in middle-level positions, only a few are able to move up to executive positions.

She concluded: "Women bring a different perspective to governance, decision-making and problem-solving by virtue of their life experiences. We need to bring in their unique perspective in government in order to have a more holistic view in addressing 21st century problems. We are not saying more women, but equal opportunities for women and men in leading and managing our country."

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