Babaeng BiyaHero seeks law to protect Filipina migrants

The bill seeks to address the gender-differentiated needs of women, including migrant workers, with provisions on the prevention of and response to gender-based violence.

Safe and Fair Philippines, with primary aim of promoting safe and fair labor migration for all women in the ASEAN region, conducted an open dialogue on the proposed Gender Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021, also known as Senate Bill 2088 and House Bill 9059, in celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The event held November 25 was attended by representatives from different organizations who encourage more Filipinos—men and women alike—to help rally and fast-track its implementation into law.

“Lahat ng babae ay apektado (ng karahasan at pang aabuso) kabilang na ating kababaihang ofw at ang UN women, mayroon tayong program ang Safe and Fair katuwang ang International Labor Organization. Ang una nating isinusulong talaga lalong lalo na sa panahon ngayon ay tugunan ang isyu ng kababaihan. Habang may pandemya lahat apektado, oo sabi nga ng UN the pandemic does not discriminate pero ang responses, ang pagtugon at mga polisiya o programa ay nakakadiskrimina. At iba ang impact nito sa mga kababaihan kaya may tinatawag na gender differentiated needs,” said Charisse Jordan, Ending Violence against Women focal person, UN Women, Safe and Fair Philippines.

Since the pandemic outbreak, emerging data has revealed that all types of VAW, particularly domestic violence, have intensified – with the Philippines unprepared to respond to its rapid escalation.  And this does not include the full continuum of violence, including sexual harassment, violence in digital contexts, harmful practices and sexual exploitation across different contexts and geographic locations. In support of IDEVAW to raise awareness about these forms of violence and abuse against women around the world, SB 2088/HB 9059 was created to ensure gender-responsive and inclusive protocols that will address different gender-differentiated needs of women during COVID- 19.

The bill seeks to address the gender-differentiated needs of women, including migrant workers, with provisions on the prevention of and response to gender-based violence. If implemented as a law, government agencies will have enough power to act on the following: 

A. Monitoring and data gathering on the realities of women relating to gender-based violence/violence at work.

B. Responding to and eliminating gender-based violence/violence at work against women and girls through pandemic policy and decision making, planning, and programming.

C. Developing guidelines on practices, protocols, coordination and networking, and education of first responders.

D. Ensuring that communications systems, referral systems, protection mechanisms and measures on access to justice and effective remedies by women subject to gender-based violence/violence at work continue to operate during a pandemic.

E. Providing shelter and security, resources and support to women and girls subject to violence; and

F. Enabling sufficient and effective institutional response for preventing gender-based violence/violence at work during a pandemic.

 “This bill mandates national agencies and local government units na mag-create ng gender-responsive national preparedness and response plans because we have these plans for pandemic and disasters pero kulang ng gender lens. Nakita natin and based sa experience natin sa covid kung gaano kahalaga yung gender lens dahil talagang differentiated ang impact sa kababaihan,” explained Atty. Jaye dela Cruz Bekema, Head of Policy, Office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

In relation to this, the initiative of Safe and Fair Philippines continues their commitment under the Bababeng BiyaHero campaign to provide more Filipina migrant workers with reliable, timely updates and assistance to help them achieve a safe and equitable migration experience. They provide reliable information on services that promote the well-being and protection of female migrant workers.

Women migrant workers are encouraged to check out the Babaeng BiyaHero website, a mobile app that assists women by providing them with essential information and services to help them in times of distress or emergency, whether in their countries-of-destination or in the Philippines.

Another initiative is the Babaeng BiyaHero Helpline that provides psychosocial support, counseling, and VAW case management for distressed and abused women migrant workers.

The Babaeng BiyaHero campaign encourages government officials, stakeholders, communities, and migrant workers to work together to create a more equitable, safe, fair, and better normal for all Filipinas by ensuring that they have the knowledge and capability to access effective and timely services that will support them throughout their migration experience. The event calls for support of the proposed bill which is currently in plenary to be implemented into law.

Tuloy and laban ng kababaihan at ang nangunguna sa laban na ito ay ang mga kababaihan kasama na nag mga kababaihang OFW. Again, ang nangunguna sa laban na ito ay ang mga kababaihan mismo.” added Jordan.

About the Author

Gina Costante is an editorial intern of SubSelfie.com and student of Broadcast Communication in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

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