Reclaiming PH gender leadership | Inquirer Opinion
Women who lead

Reclaiming PH gender leadership

I recently had the privilege to virtually address the dedicated and inspiring leaders of PhilWEN. Allow me to share a few highlights from my speech:

During Women’s Month this year, I accepted several invitations to address various women’s groups in the region to keep the Philippines in the radar screen of gender issues. Moreover, it was my mandate to “continue serving the country” when I joined the private sector as a senior adviser at SGV and Co., the Philippine member firm of Ernst and Young Global.

In most of those webinars, I decided to repeatedly deliver five positive messages on the Philippines that Filipino women could be proud of:

I. The initial draft of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was developed by our own Department of Foreign Affairs in the early 1970s. We lobbied hard for its final adoption as a treaty in 1979 by the UN General Assembly. Today, the Convention is described as an international bill of rights for women and ratified by 189 states.

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I strongly suggest that every leader of women’s organizations, both in the Philippines and globally, study the Convention as it affects everyone of us. It defines what is meant by “discrimination against women” and as such is a powerful tool for women in ensuring that our rights are respected.

II. The Philippine Magna Carta of Women of 2006 is a pledge of the government’s commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It also provides for the increase in the number of women in the third-level positions in government to achieve a 50-50 gender balance and mandates gender mainstreaming in the implementation of the law.

III. The law on gender and development has been a very important Philippine government initiative to effectively implement gender mainstreaming in the public sector. It requires that 5 percent of the total budget appropriation of government agencies and local government units be allocated to fund activities that would help to keep women in the workforce. I understand that there is an ongoing assessment of its implementation and achievements.

IV. The Philippines may hold the world record for having the most number of women ambassadors. From 1958 to 2018, we have had 90 women ambassadors, of which 76 were career diplomats while 14 were political ambassadors appointed by the various presidents. I have documented these data in Volume 1 of my book entitled” Women in Diplomacy: The Remarkable Ambassadors in the Philippine Foreign Service.”

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Believing that “data is power,” I find it important for women’s organizations to quantify their achievements, which will contribute to the overall data on the role played by Filipino women in the community.

V. I also highlighted findings from the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, which consistently ranked the Philippines one of the top 10 countries. Sadly, our ranking slipped to 17th place in 2021 due to the drop in the number of women in Congress and in the Cabinet.

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This represents a major challenge not only to women organizations but to all of us who would like to see the Philippines regain both its ranking and stature in the global stage.

I left the leaders of PhilWEN with a challenge that I also wish to extend to our readers today: What can we do about it? Or better still, what should we do about it?

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Ambassador Delia Domingo Albert is the first Filipino woman career diplomat to serve as secretary (minister) of foreign affairs of the Philippines and in Asia. She is currently senior adviser of SGV & Co., the Philippine member firm of Ernst and Young Global.

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Women Who Lead is an initiative of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN).

TAGS: gender gap, leadership, women, women empowerment

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