MANILA, Nov 26 (Mabuhay) — The United Nations Philippines on Thursday called for the swift passage of a law that would protect women during emergencies, including the current coronavirus pandemic.

“Women are affected by the pandemic differently which is what we refer to as ‘gender-differentiated needs.’ Passing SB (Senate Bill) 2088 and HB (House Bill) 9059 into law is a necessary step towards mitigating violence against women. We urge our legislators to please make its swift enactment into law,” said Charisse Jordan, UN Women national project officer for Safe and Fair Philippines.

Jordan made the statement as the country celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

In the forum Babaeng BiyaHero at ang Batas, Jordan said apart from dealing with the effects of a global health crisis, women worldwide continue to experience varying forms of abuse.

“Many remain at risk without having an avenue or resource to be heard. It is a shadow pandemic that we need to start paying attention to,” she said.

“In every aspect of their lives, women deserve to be heard and to have access to coordinated and quality essential services from legal aid when they experience gender-based violence, to health services including sexual and reproductive health services and livelihood and economic opportunities,” she added.

The Senate Bill 2088 and House Bill 9059, otherwise known as the Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021, seek to create programs and protocols that address the gender-differentiated needs of women, especially from the marginalized sectors, during pandemic, emergencies, or disasters.

Once enacted into law, government agencies will have adequate statutory power to monitor and gather data related to the realities of women during a crisis and craft policies and protocols from it.

It would also ensure that systems are in place to provide women and girls social and legal protection from gender-based violence; and that shelter and resources would be immediately available for them when needed.

“As the government continues to formulate rehabilitation programs to address the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential that the rights of women, both here and abroad, be at the heart of their planning, decision-making, and implementation,” Jordan said.

Safe and Fair Philippines, through its Babaeng BiyaHero campaign, has also called on government officials, stakeholders, communities, and migrant workers to promote a “more equitable, safe, fair, and better normal” for every Filipina by ensuring that they are equipped with the knowledge and capability to access effective and timely services.

“By working together, Safe and Fair Philippines hopes to ensure that a new and better normal is anchored on decent work, gender equality, freedom from violence, and safe and fair labor migration for all Filipino women workers,” it said.

The Safe and Fair program is a joint initiative between the UN and the European Union to ensure that labor migration is safe and fair for all women in the Southeast Asian region.

In the Philippines, the project focuses on women overseas Filipino workers, both land and sea-based, and is conducted at the national and local levels.

Among its inclusions is the Babaeng BiyaHero website that provides women with essential information and services to help them in times of distress or emergency, whether in their host countries or in the Philippines.

They also manage the Babaeng BiyaHero Helpline, which provides psychosocial support, counseling, and violence against women case management for distressed and abused women migrant workers. (MNS)

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