The Gender and Development Program of the Commission on Population (POPCOM)
Program Manager - Rosa R. Fortaleza - Regional Director, RPO CAR
The Gender and Development Program of the Commission on Population is anchored both on the international commitments and local laws. The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it was instituted on 3 September 1981 and has been ratified by 189 states.
The Convention defines discrimination against women as "...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) articulated a bold new vision about the relationships between population, development and individual well-being. At the ICPD in Cairo, 179 countries adopted a forward-looking, 20-year Programme of Action (PoA) that continues to serve as a comprehensive guide to people-centred development progress. The Philippines was among the 179 signatory countries that supported the ICPD PoA.
The ICPD Programme of Action was remarkable in its recognition that reproductive health and rights, as well as women's empowerment and gender equality, are cornerstones of population and development programmes (www.unfpa.org).
For the Philippines, one major accomplishment was the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Bill into law in 2013. POPCOM serves as the secretariat and co-chair of the National/Regional Implementation Team (N/RIT).
The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action that was approved in September 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, is a global pledge to attaining equality, development and peace for women worldwide. It requires all governments to develop policies and national plans of action to implement the Platform locally. As part of the accomplishment of the Government of the Philippines was the mandatory provision of at least 5% of the total budget be allotted to the Gender and Development (GAD) initiatives.
The Magna Carta of Women. The enactment of the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) has been regarded nationally and internationally as a significant milestone in the empowerment of Filipino women. The law provides and entrenched women’s rights particularly among those who are marginalized, underserved, and discriminated.
As of today, the law is being implemented through the leadership of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) with the institutional support and collaboration with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) particularly for the localization and monitoring of the provisions of the Magna Carta. Capacity building and appropriate institutional mechanisms have been set in place for the mobilization of DILG and LGUs in the implementation of the Magna Carta specifically at the local level.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 addresses extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. The Commission on Population (POPCOM), as the policy making and coordinating body in the implementation of the population program has developed the six-year Philippine Population Management Program Directional Plan (PPMP DP) wherein GAD as a cross cutting issue is included in all its three (3) major program components, namely: Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning (RPFP), Adolescent Health and Youth Development (AHYD), and Population and Development (PopDev). Furthermore, POPCOM is the monitoring arm in tracking down the progress of the MDGs, specifically target #5 – Maternal Health as well as of the accomplishments of the RPRH Law. Based on the above-cited premises, these gender issues and other relevant concepts are likewise explicitly integrated in the PPMP’s training and communication tools and materials. POPCOM is continuously attending capacity building for its officials and employees as well as conducting programs, projects and activities. To date, initiatives like Men’s Responsibilities in Gender and Development (MR GAD) and Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya (KATROPA) are the banner programs of POPCOM in advocating GAD. The MR GAD is an initiative that took-off as a research with intervention initiatives on “Filipino Men and Domestic Violence” by the Health Management and Research Group Foundation, Inc. (HMRG) in Davao City. The project evolved into a good practice which intended to transform pilot communities to become more responsive to gender and RH concerns of men and boys. The engagement involved the conduct of FGDs among married men from the urban and rural areas. Its management and implementation is being made through by men champions and advocates who believe in the gender equality and that promoting gender equality should start among men and boys at the barangay level. The project employs various strategies such as: men-talking-to men; counselling; medico-legal assistance; passage and support of gender related policies and ordinances among others. All these would result to rational attitudinal and behavioural change among men. The objectives are (1) to harness the influence and respectability of men in key positions in the communities to advocate reforms in gender and reproductive health (RH) and become gender and RH champions; (2) to improve the handling and processing of the victims and doers of violence by community-based service providers; and (3) to improve the gender and RH knowledge and skills of the different NGOs.
The KATROPA or Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya is an aspiration or movement which aims to shape and change men as responsible individuals, parents, and partners for the development of their family and the community. It is advancing innovative views on the role and responsibility of men in society with emphasis on their ability to be responsible for their decisions and advocate of health for themselves and their families; family planning, healthy and safe pregnancy of their wife or partner, and active participation in the development of the society. Every man forged innovative insight into the real man; he would be expected to be an advocate of change in his own family, peers, and the entire community.
For the past years, POPCOM has conducted its first knowledge, attitude and practices (KAPs) survey to all POPCOM employees nationwide. The results were the bases for the continuing effort of GAD mainstreaming initiatives within POPCOM through the development of advocacy materials, projects, activities and programs that are gender-sensitive.
In 2015, POPCOM has conducted GAD sensitive activities for the furtherance of the knowledge and capacity of its personnel and providing technical assistance to our partners, both national and local, to help them understand and conduct their own GAD PPAs, such as:
- Orientation on MR GAD and KATROPA initiatives to local partners
- Initiatives related to MR GAD or KATROPA that were localized: MENTAKO of Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR); JR GAD in region XI; ITAY in region IV
- GAD Assembly: Discussions and activities serve as orientation for new employees or refresher course for the old ones
- Knowledge Sharing on areas with GAD best practices
- Gender Sensitivity Training (GST) for beginners
- Pilot tested the GAD KAP Survey Questionnaire
Likewise, POPCOM has produced its draft of the Tool Kit to mainstream GAD concerns in the Philippine Population Management Program: Tool Kit for Gender Responsive Population Strategies (GR PopS). Series of content validation activities were conducted in four (4) areas: Luzon – CAR and Baler, Aurora; Visayas – Cebu; and Mindanao – Cagayan de Oro. The Tool Kit will serve as the standardized reference for POPCOM trainers to advocate GAD within the context of the PPMP. It is plan to be launched in March 2016.