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Philippines Officially Enacts Legislation for Gender Equality

Manila — Philippines’ President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, signed the country’s Magna Carta of Women in Manila on 14 August, formally enacting a legislation for gender equality that women’s rights groups have been lobbying for in the last seven years.

Signed into law as Republic Act No. 9710, the landmark legislation is significantly linked to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which — with assitance from UNIFEM’s CEDAW South East Asia Programme (funded by the Canadian International Development Agency) — provided the framework for the Magna Carta in the last three years. UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Habitat, UNDP, UNAIDS and ILO were also part of that process through the UN Joint Programme.

The CEDAW framework helped to define gender discrimination, state obligation, substantive equality and temporary special measures within the legislation, and outlined provisions to implement these principles. The signed Magna Carta has a number of provisions, such as training all government personnel involved with gender-based violence work in human rights and gender sensitivity, and giving men and women equal status on the issuance of stewardship contracts and patents.

While being lobbied, the Magna Carta was received with opposition from conservative religious parties due to its emphasis on reproductive health. They charged that the bill would promote promiscuity, abortion, divorce and homosexuality. However, that opposition was addressed through dialogue and factual presentations at congressional hearings, in community forums and schools, and through mass media outlets.

“After all the attempts to block the passage of the Magna Carta of Women, the Filipino women have finally emerged victorious,” said Liza Maza, the Gabriela Women’s Party Representative in the 13th Congress of the Philippines. “This is a by-product of women’s continuous struggle for equality and serves as a gateway in support to women’s legitimate concerns.”

For more information, contact Luz Rodriguez, National Coordinator, UNIFEM Philippines luz.rodriguez[at]

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