Press Release
April 25, 2023

Hontiveros highlights women's rights in global conference of parliamentarians in Japan

Senator Risa Hontiveros is representing the Philippines in the Global Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development in Tokyo, Japan, from April 24 to April 26.

The event is organized by the Asian Population and Development Association, the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development Japan, the Parliamentarians Federation for Population, and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Japan Trust Fund.

Hontiveros, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, spoke about how COVID-19 has exposed the social inequalities that exacerbated the gaps and challenges facing women's rights and gender equality in the Philippines.

"Our country was known to have the longest and strictest lockdown in the world, as the previous administration employed a militaristic method instead of a health-centric approach to our COVID-19 response. The consequences of this were most felt by the most vulnerable among us, especially our women and children," the senator said in her speech.

Hontiveros also detailed the forms of gender-based violence, from incidents of sex-for-pass in checkpoints to cases of online sexual exploitation of children on social media, that were prevalent in the Philippines, primarily brought about by the health and economic crisis.

Besides the Safe Spaces Act that was passed into law in 2019, the senator also shared the laws, such as the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children Law and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law, that were urgently passed in the middle of the pandemic in order to tackle the issues that most affect our women and girls.

Hontiveros also said that she filed the Gender Responsive and Inclusive Emergency Management Act, which seeks to address the gender-differentiated needs of women and girls as we are disproportionately affected in times of emergencies.

"We shouldn't just stop at passing laws for our women, we should make it our responsibility to ensure that more women are also in leadership positions, more women who intimately know the lived experiences of being a woman," Hontiveros said, encouraging fellow parliamentarians to share their power with more women in their respective countries.

"When we have the different perspectives of different kinds of women in decision-making spaces and in all levels of governance, we would be more able to live out true gender equality and empowerment for all," she added.

The senator then called on the parliamentarians to stand in solidarity with women's movements across the world to ensure true and lasting equality.

"COVID-19 has taught us that we are more in need of each other than we would like to admit, more connected than we think, more similar than we are different. And I hope as we work towards creating societies that are freer, healthier, and happier for our women and girls, we always remember to work together, look out for each other, and stay united in our shared humanity," Hontiveros concluded.

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