(Women's Month Special #WomensMonth2023)
by Kevin de Vera
March 22, 2023
Advocating for women's rights is not only fair but also meaningful for the development of the country. According to some studies, empowering women's capacities and abilities helps improve their health and well-being and that of their families. Providing adequate support and protection to women against any form of violence or discrimination also boosts their confidence and productivity. The participation of women in politics, economy, education, and other sectors also enriches the democracy and culture of the country.
In short, women's rights are not just an issue or advocacy but a necessity for a more just, peaceful, and prosperous society.
I always admired hardworking mothers. They have to balance so many responsibilities and still find time to nurture their children. I am inspired by women educators and health workers who dedicate their lives to helping others learn and heal. They are role models for me and many others who aspire to make a positive difference in the world. I am a big fan of my grandma who is a teacher and a community leader in her own respect. She taught me the value of education, compassion, and service. She is my hero, and someone I still look up to.
I have always been passionate about sexual and reproductive health advocacy because I know how important it is for women and girls to have access to quality health care and education. I have seen the challenges and struggles that many women and girls face in different contexts and cultures, and how they overcome them with courage and resilience. I have also learned a lot from the personal stories of women and girls who have shared their experiences with me, and who have inspired me to continue this work. I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with community leaders, women leaders, and women who have devoted their lives to women empowerment and women's rights advocacy. They have taught me so much about leadership, solidarity, and activism. They too are my role models and my allies in this journey.
Going around the country because of work helped build up my aspirations to work towards a Philippines with no teenage girls and mothers dying because of complications of pregnancy and giving birth. That families have equitable access to information and health services. That the government is responsive to people's health needs. And that we all live in a society where the wellbeing of women matters. Gone are the days that they feel left behind, and gone are the days getting pregnant is not a choice.
This dream may seem far-fetched given the current situation of maternal mortality in the Philippines. Women's rights matter because they are half of the population and have a significant contribution to society. In the Philippines, March is celebrated as National Women's Month to recognize the achievements and challenges of Filipino women in various fields. This celebration is based on international agreements and laws that promote equal rights and opportunities for women such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (1995-2025), the Framework Plan for Women, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, I believe that this dream is not impossible to achieve if we work together to address the root causes of maternal mortality and improve the quality and accessibility of reproductive health care for all women, especially those who are poor, young, rural, or marginalized. Some of the strategies that can help us realize this dream include: increasing awareness and demand for family planning services; strengthening antenatal care and skilled birth attendance; providing emergency obstetric care and postnatal care; preventing unsafe abortion and treating its complications; enhancing adolescent sexual and reproductive health education; empowering women to make informed choices about their bodies and lives; advocating for gender equality and women's rights; mobilizing resources and political will for maternal health; monitoring progress and holding stakeholders accountable.
I hope that by sharing this dream with you, I can inspire you to join us in making it a reality. Together, we can save lives and create a better future for ourselves, our families, and our country.