Sunday, August 30, 2009

RA 9710: Magna Carta of Women

Another milestone for Filipino women has been marked as PGMA enacted the Magna Carta of Women last August 14, 2009.

It was a long battle - having been opposed by different groups such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. As usual, issues on family and life came into play. That it was anti-life and anti-family were proven wrong. The Magna Carta poses no threat to both. Quoting Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, from

“The bill was crafted to be an effective tool for the further protection and empowerment of women, particularly the marginalized. It is a pro-life, pro- Filipina and pro-family measure. It is not a reproductive rights and same sex marriage bill that rabid religious groups and opponents of the measure have labeled it.”

The enactment of the Magna Carta is a strong nudge to finally implement, as a strategy, the gender mainstreaming of the country's primary institutions - family, school, workplace and government. Some question the need for such or why it is always the women who benefit from mainstreaming efforts. In response, it must be noted that women are the usual victims of discriminatory practices. Privilege blinds both men and women from seeing this. Plus, these practices that are long entwined with tradition are taken as norms and hence, the apathy.

A case in point: the single parent. Being one actually means having to provide both the economic and nurturing needs of the child. What puts women instead of men at a disadvantage is the fact that they comprise most of the solo parent population. (Only the US Single Parent Statistics was found on the Internet. It says that "in 2006, 5 out of every 6 custodial parents were mothers." The Philippines' should not be any different.)

(Note: Interestingly, the paragraph above was quoted in Conversations for a Better World. Read Philippines: A Pregnant Woman's Right to Study and Work, which is available in about 5 or more languages.)

Sadly, there are very few daycare centers and breastfeeding facilities that cater to children of working single mothers. While yaya or caregiver wages are relatively cheap in the Philippines, hiring one who can be trusted is an entirely different story.

The downloadable version of the Magna Carta, including the fast facts, are available at National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women website.

To close this post, here is a provision of the Magna Carta which, I bet, even the most privileged of women may be able to relate to:

Equal rights in all matters relating to marriage and family relations. The State shall ensure the same rights of women and men to: enter into and leave marriages, freely choose a spouse, decide on the number and spacing of their children, enjoy personal rights including the choice of a profession, own, acquire, and administer their property, and acquire, change, or retain their nationality. It also states that the betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect.