The Philippines Magna Carta of Women, enacted in August 2009, stands as a local commitment to the provisions in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Considering the inequitable cultural norms and obstacles faced by Filipina women in social and economic advancement, the Magna Carta of Women affirms the country’s commitment to gender equity in multiple ways.
Women in the Philippines had much lower levels of enrollment in education and participation in sports and other recreational activities according to the Philippines Statistics Authority. Additionally, as of 2008, only 28% of Parliament seats were occupied by women, and women composed just 30% of federal and local judgeships.
Women also faced grave health consequences in the 2000’s, with over 10% of women having experienced at least one act of sexual violence, and only 60% of births being performed by a skilled health professional, which led to adverse birth outcomes, including maternal and child deaths. The Magna Carta of Women in the Philippines was built upon the idea that greater female participation in the economy and leadership positions will ultimately reduce health disparities.
The following are components of the law most relevant to gender equity that would lead to better health outcomes for Filipina women and girls:
GENDER SENSITIVE COMPONENTS
- Non-discrimination in employment, promotion potential, salary, and benefits in public offices
- Equality among men and women in the land contracts and patent applications
- Equal access to educational opportunities, funding, and academic training
- Elimination of any derogatory portrayals of women in media
- Protection against violence in all forms, including gender-based violence and violence committed by the state
GENDER SPECIFIC COMPONENTS
- Fully paid two-month leave benefits for women who undergo gynecologic surgery
- Increasing the gender balance to 50-50 female/male representation in governmental positions
- Mandatory training on gender equity and women’s health for police, social workers, and government personnel involved in gender-based violence prevention, care, and accountability
GENDER TRANSFORMATIVE COMPONENTS
- Comprehensive health education and training for healthcare providers and public servants on women’s health and cause of death among Filipina women.
In the years since the Magna Carta was enacted, there have been significant strides in female involvement in leadership positions. By 2018, the Parliament gender ratio increased to 49% females and 51% males, as well as an even split in female and male federal and local judges. The percentage of births attended by a skilled health professional increased to 72% by 2018, which led to a decrease in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. These policies also paved the way for supplemental health-specific policies, such as the 105-Day Extended Maternity Leave Act (Republic Act 11210) and the Safe Spaces Act (Republic Act 11313). The Magna Carta of Women was the first step in achieving gender equity in multiple health-related sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the Philippines.