Women’s right must be upheld even during calamities – Angara

Aurora Rep. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara appealed for continued vigilance in upholding women’s rights and welfare, especially during times of disaster, such as the devastation caused by Typhoon Pablo.

Angara authored the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710) which was enacted in 2009. Section 10 of the comprehensive women’s rights law states that women have the right to protection and security in times of disasters, calamities, and other crisis situations in all phases of relief, recovery, rehabilitation, and construction efforts.

The government’s response to disaster situations must include particular needs of women from a gender perspective, such as psychosocial and livelihood support, and comprehensive health services, including protection during pregnancy.

“In times of disaster, women and children have special needs, such as safety and privacy, that may not be accommodated. Incidence of sexual violence and domestic abuse tend to increase due to stress and the breakdown of community norms and protection,” he warned.

“Relief and rescue efforts are very difficult and, often, dangerous. Nonetheless, I hope we can strive to ensure that we not only provide for the basic needs of women and children, but also special needs that will help them feel more secure. They are very vulnerable at this period, and we hope to protect them from further hardship or trauma,” Angara stressed.

Angara also lauded the recent 18-day campaign, which began on Nov. 25 and ended on Dec. 12, launched to promote awareness of the Magna Carta of Women.

Themed “Violence Against Women-Free Society in Times of Peace, Conflict and Calamity,” the campaign aimed to raise awareness about gender-based violence in crisis situations to increase support mechanisms for female victim-survivors.

The Philippine Commission on Women led activities such as a media campaign, launching of Barangay Violence Against Women Desk Handbook, information sessions for Internally Displaced Persons or evacuees, and forum by different organizations working in conflict or disaster areas.

“Sexual violence against women is used as a weapon during war or conflict, even at the home or workplace. This can result in sexual trauma, mental health disorders, and sex-related diseases,” Angara explained.

He continued, “I hope we can sustain this campaign, as well as launch other initiatives that will help Filipino women empower themselves against abuse, especially those who have fallen victims to violence.”

“I urge everyone to utilize every means possible, especially social media, to help create an environment in which every Filipina can freely speak up and fight for her rights,” Angara said.

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