Press Release
March 8, 2023


Mr. President, I rise today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1980 under Committee Report No. 42 or the "Gender Responsive and Inclusive Emergency Management Act of 2023". I thank my colleagues and co-authors Senators Loren Legarda and Bong Revilla.

This bill arises at a critical time, as we begin to see the end of Covid-19 policies in our country. It is an opportune time to revisit our country's emergency management system to determine whether or not the more vulnerable among us falls through the cracks.

Despite our country's significant strides in closing the gender equality gap, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to harsh light the gendered and intersectional issues that women and girls continue to face. This makes us disproportionately affected in times of emergencies. Dahil higit na mas maraming kababaihan ang kabilang sa informal economy, mas malala ang hagupit ng pandemya sa kanilang kabuhayan. Further, gendered expectations at home have overburdened women and girls with increased unpaid care work. Malimit, ang babae ang pumapasan ng mga tungkulin na pangalagaan ang mga maysakit, gumabay sa online class ng anak, habang ginagawa ang iba pang mga gawaing bahay at pagkasyahin ang budget ng pamilya.

With women and girls confined to their homes and shelters, they often become targets of violence. Plan International Philippines also found that 17% of women and girls have witnessed gender-based violence outside their homes, while 56% of them saw online violence against women.

Women suffered from inaccessible reporting mechanisms due to the harsh Covid-19 restrictions that hampered both mobility and access to information. This issue is a global phenomenon, as Filipino migrant women have also suffered from increased labor exploitation and abuse by their employers.

Impediments to sexual, reproductive, and mental health services for women also prevail during emergency situations. Major disruptions occurred in sexual and reproductive health services during the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the numerous pressures and burdens that women face during emergencies highlight the need to ensure the consistent availability of mental health services.

These multifaceted issues that women face during emergencies necessitate a comprehensive and multisectoral bill that will guarantee the protection and empowerment of women even during emergencies. It further fulfills our legislative duties outlined in our constitution and the Magna Carta for Women to commit to protecting the women and girls in our lives and ensuring gender equality. This bill aims to effectively prevent and respond to the gendered issues that women and girls face through the following:

  • Devising a national preparedness and response plan that addresses the differentiated issues and needs of women.

  • Prioritizing women and girls in emergency response, especially those who are at the most risk.

  • Strengthening gender-based violence preparedness and response systems by ensuring that GBV services remain accessible and unimpeded.

  • Guaranteeing the availability of sexual and reproductive health goods and services.

  • Ensuring the continuity and availability of mental health services.

  • Improving education systems' responsiveness to emergencies that consider the obstacles in education.

  • ? Institutionalizing protections for women migrant workers and their children, rural and indigenous women, and locally stranded women.

Mr. President and my dear colleagues, on this very day, International Women's Day, I am honored to sponsor this bill to protect and empower women in emergency situations. May we leave no woman and girl behind, especially when they are most vulnerable.

Let's build back better, let's build back better together, with women and girls at the heart and center. Salamat po.

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