An official of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) has emphasized the importance of incorporating gender into climate policies, as it would support a just, inclusive, and equitable transition toward a green economy.
During the two-day Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) in Bangkok, Thailand from Feb. 6 to 7, PCO Undersecretary Cherbett Karen Maralit said the Philippines has put gender-responsive considerations in policies for mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Maralit particularly cited the country’s Climate Change Act, which incorporates a gender-sensitive, pro-children, and pro-poor approach in designing and implementing all climate change and renewable energy efforts, plans, and programs.
She also highlighted that the People’s Survival Fund, or the country’s adaptation fund, takes into account the local projects’ responsiveness to gender-differentiated vulnerabilities.
She said women played a crucial role in building climate-resilient communities through the government’s Disaster Risk Resiliency Program.
“The Disaster Risk Resiliency Program of our Department of Social Welfare and Development strengthens the capacity of disaster-vulnerable families by enhancing their disaster risk reduction, mitigation, and management capabilities while providing them temporary income opportunities in exchange for training or work. In 2023, 54 percent of participants were women, which underscores their significant role in building communities’ climate resilience,” she said.
In terms of international cooperation, she said the Philippines and the United Nations recently signed the 2024-2028 United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework.
The goal under this framework, Maralit said, would be for all people to ” benefit from a just transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient development, sustainable management of the environment, natural resources, and biodiversity, and strengthened resilience to disasters and natural hazards”.
Maralit, meanwhile, urged regional stakeholders to continue mainstreaming gender-responsive considerations in all policies across levels.
“Recognizing the continued relevance of gender-differentiated impacts of climate change, particularly in livelihood and health, we appeal to everyone to close the existing gender gaps and the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls,” she said.
Filipino women in post pandemic recovery
Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has put a spotlight on Filipino women for playing an integral role in the Philippines’ post pandemic recovery.
NEDA Economic Development Specialist II Arsenia Crisilda Maxinne Pepino said in the midst of the pandemic, around 62 percent of the new businesses registered were women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
Pepino said women’s labor force participation increased to 56 percent from 51.2 percent in 2021 while lockdowns were being lifted.
“Research shows that in 2020, the Philippines was one of the top countries with the greatest number of female CEOs and women occupying senior management positions. These are a testament to how women are essential in uplifting the Philippine economy,” she said.
Pepino, however, stressed that women empowerment measures must be reinforced to dismantle multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women that push them into poverty.
“Despite steadily making strides toward economic progress, many women and girls are still living in poverty and experiencing situations of economic and social marginalization. Women’s labor force participation decreased from its progress in 2022. Women’s employment rate also remains lower than men, while they bear the brunt of a greater proportion of unpaid care work,” she said.
She cited that the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 identifies several strategies to address gendered poverty by providing women with even more economic opportunities while also continuing to address gender-based discrimination.
These strategies, she said, include mainstreaming gender and green competencies to increase women’s income-earning ability; and strengthening social protection systems to reduce the risks faced by vulnerable groups.
“Aside from employment facilitation, policies shall address labor market issues such as mobility constraints, security concerns, technological capacities, and gender-based discrimination. Laws such as the Telecommuting Act of 2018 give women the option to avail alternative work arrangements, enabling them to work from home while pursuing other productive activities,” she said.
She said gendered poverty could also be addressed by elevating women’s presence in leadership roles, especially in male-dominated fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
With regard to women’s unpaid care work, she said the government aims to strengthen the provision of daycare services for government employees’ children under five years of age.
She also noted that lawmakers have started to lobby for legislation to mandate the provision of incentives for unpaid care workers.
Meanwhile, she said the Interagency Committee on Gender, Children, and Youth Statistics (IAC-GCYS) has put forward initiatives on estimating the value of unpaid care work and its possible contribution to the economy.
“The path to eliminating gendered poverty is truly challenging, but we believe that true gender equality can only come into fruition when all stakeholders— men and women alike, collectively work together for a more equitable Philippines,” she said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Officer-In-Charge Khay Ann Magundayao-Borlado urged member-states of the United Nations to adopt gender-responsive budgeting as an investment in the future to ensure “no one is left behind”.
Magundayao-Borlado said gender-responsive budgeting goes beyond just allocating funds but includes ensuring that resources cater to diverse needs based on sex, gender, age, disability, and other social status.
“Strengthening domestic resource mobilization for women and gender equality following a participatory and inclusive process where the voices and perspectives of those most affected are made part of decision-making is essential for sustainable development,” she said during the consultation.
She said that in the Philippines, under Republic Act 9710 (Magna Carta of Women Act) and Republic Act 7192 (Women in Development and Nation Building Act), 5 to 30 percent of official development assistance funds and at least five percent of the total budget appropriations of all government instrumentalities are allocated to Gender and Development programs.
She said that in 2022, 24 percent of the budget of national government agencies was utilized to implement gender-responsive initiatives, encompassing not only those aimed at empowering women and achieving gender equality but also the integration of gender-responsive elements into flagship programs.
“Addressing gender inequalities not only promotes women’s human rights but is also a pivotal step towards eradicating overall poverty,” she said.
She highlighted that the Philippines has ensured that gender equality and inclusivity are key components of its human development and poverty reduction programs, citing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the country’s conditional cash transfer program, as an example.
“Empowering women creates a ripple effect, benefiting families, communities, and society at large,” she said.
She also called for the strengthening of international support and global multi-stakeholder partnerships, especially for developing countries, stressing that “the fight against women’s poverty is a collective global effort, creating a world where fiscal policies transform lives and foster equality”.
The Philippine delegation, also composed of representatives from Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Budget and Management and Climate Change Commission, was supported by Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok. (PNA)