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How do we ensure that our State will fulfill its obligations to Us?

National consultations are on-going for the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) of the Aquino Administration. The MTPDP is the national document that describes the situation of the country in all areas of development, namely: macro-economic, social, infrastructure, environmental, peace and security sectors. It contains the national development goals and strategies of the present administration as well as outlines the priorities and targets that will determine the level of effort that the national government will exert to address the myriad of development challenges. In the spirit of participatory governance, the MTPDP was subjected to several inter-agency and multi-sectoral (not broad-based though) consultations. Simultaneous regional consultations were conducted last week. At last after more than 12 years, the stakeholders at the subregional levels were involved in the national planning process.

I happen to participate in the Region 8 consultations, specifically at the Social Development, Peace and Security Sectors. The discussion was animated. The clarificatory responses of the national agencies present were both informative and educational. All the comments and recommendations were noted and positively accepted hoping and expecting that the regional perspectives and sentiments will be forwarded to and considered by the national planning committee.
I will not dwell on the non-gender responsiveness of the draft MTPDP because I am sure that the observation is shared by the many who are wearing special gender lenses. What I would like to point out is the absence of the situationer of the migrant workers or the Overseas Filipino Workers whose remittances are helping prop -up the economy. A lot of them are women who are victims of trafficking, illegal recruitment, abuse and discrimination. The Philippines seems helpless in protecting the rights and welfare of our OFWs. Can the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) help?

Article 2 of the CEDAW cites the general legal obligations of States parties to ensure that all the rights enshrined in the Convention are fully respected at the national level. According to the General Recommendation No. 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the CEDAW during the 47th session (October 4-22, 2010) of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination, “State parties have an immediate and continuous obligation to condemn discrimination. They are obliged to proclaim their total opposition to all forms of discrimination against women to all levels and branches of Government, to their population and to the international community, and their determination to bring about the elimination of discrimination against women. The term “discrimination in all its forms” clearly obligates the State party to be vigilant in condemning all forms of discrimination, including forms that are not explicitly mentioned in the Convention or that may be emerging.” Furthermore, General Recommendation No. 28 states that “The obligation to fulfill requires that States parties take a wide variety of steps to ensure that women and men enjoy equal rights de jure and de facto, including, where appropriate, the adoption of temporary special measures in line with article 4 (1) of the Convention and General Recommendation No. 25 . States parties should consider that they have to fulfill their legal obligations to all women through designing public policies, programmes and institutional frameworks that are aimed at fulfilling the specific needs of women leading to the full development of their potential on an equal basis with men.”

How do we ensure that our State will fulfill its obligations to us than making sure that the programs for migrant women and all other women should find its way in the gender responsive Medium Term Philippine Development Plan of the Aquino Administration?
Sinisegurado lang po.
PLN over a cup of hot chocolate at a mall
In Tacloban City, Philippines

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