Filipina to lead Asia-Pacific review of UN resolution advancing women’s rights

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2019 03:56 PM

BANGKOK – A Filipina has been elected to lead the review of a United Nations resolution advancing women's rights. 

Rhodora Bucoy, chair of the Philippine Commission on Women and head of the Philippine delegation here, was chosen to lead the drafting of an outcome document to be adopted at a gathering of Asia-Pacific ministers, United Nations officials and civil society organizations in Bangkok seeking to review progress in implementing a UN resolution advancing women’s rights.

She was nominated by a representative from Japan and subsequently elected chair of a closed working group that will prepare the outcome document of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Beijing+25 Review.

The conference will examine what developments have taken place and what challenges the Asia-Pacific region is still facing in complying with the Beijing Declaration and Beijing Platform of Action, considered a milestone agreement for promoting gender equality adopted in 1995.

Over 500 delegates are attending the conference. 

A gender and development expert and advocate, Bucoy served as Philippine Commission on Women commissioner from August 2013 to 2016, when she was appointed chair. 

She is a retired associate professor of political science and development, and gender studies at the University of the Philippines in Cebu and is credited for introducing a gender-fair curriculum in the K-to-12 basic education program of the Department of Education.

“It’s a privilege for the Philippines to be elected as chair of the working group which will review the outcome document and which shall be adopted by the ministers at the end of the conference,” she told ABS-CBN News shortly after her election. 

“That would be a very tough work 'coz we will be looking at the document and ensuring that there will be consensus especially on contested language in some parts of the document. But we hope that we’ll be able to galvanize the cooperation of all the member-states in the Asia-Pacific region so we’ll really be able to have this outcome document approved by the body,” she added.

Among key issues that will be included in the draft document, she shared, are: ensuring prosperity and inclusive development, eliminating all forms of violence against women, advancing migrant workers and sexual and reproductive health rights, as well as the impact of the climate crisis on women.

Bucoy leads a 20-member delegation of the Philippines to the conference, joined by Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Jose Miguel de la Rosa, Southeast Asia Women Watch’s Patricia Licuanan, and Miriam College professor Aurora Javale-de Dios, among other officials.

Ministers from some 20 countries are also present, while around 300 civil society organizations from 35 countries are also taking part in this 3-day conference.

During the opening ceremony Wednesday morning, UN officials said significant progress have been made since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration, such as better access to education, lower mortality rates and efforts by countries to take legal steps to address violence against women. 

Still, more needs to be done.

They noted that women still bear the disproportionate brunt of unpaid care and domestic work. Globally, women spend 3 times more than men, while in the Asia-Pacific, they spend 11 times more. 

They also highlighted the need for more participation of women in politics, noting that women occupy only 25 percent of seats in parliaments worldwide. 

The reason for this? Lack of political will, governments wanting to suppress dissent and human rights, and lack of financing, they said. 

A representative from civil society organizations, meanwhile, said it was time for system change, asking government officials to make them more involved in decision-making.

Among others, they urged member states to ensure primacy of human rights in trade and investment agreements, greater protection for those in the formal and informal economy sector including migrant workers, universal health care for all, decriminalize abortion and sex work, and end discriminatory laws.

“We, the women and young people of the Asia and the Pacific, are confident that you will take bold steps in translating Beijing commitments and our recommendations into actions that will fundamentally transform our lives,” a representative said, drawing applause from the participants.

The Philippine delegation is set to present the Philippine situation Wednesday afternoon.