Two years past since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC) Caraga has never failed to initiate lined-up activities for the annual observance of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW) from November 25 to December 12.
For this year, the RGADC chaired by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) Caraga highlighted the conduct of “Orange your Vehicle” Motorcade within the thoroughfares of Butuan City going to Philippine Science High School - Caraga Region Campus open court, where a short program was also held.
As participants from the different sectors traversed the national highways with orange balloons decorated outside their vehicles, it caught the attention of the locals and grasped the message of protecting the rights and welfare of the women and children.
Hence, the float highlighted the continuous call to end different forms of violence against women, and highlight the efforts/mandates of the government agencies in addressing VAW and various gender issues.
Atty. Aurora Luanne Cembrano-Ramos, Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Caraga and former RGADC chair, reiterated that the Orange your Icon Campaign endeavored to strengthen the VAW advocacy by encouraging new audiences to participate in ending VAW.
“With the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), this initiative enjoins government offices and private organizations nationwide to color its major landmarks or icons with orange from November 25 to December 12 of every year in line with the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. Since 2015, this initiative aims to attract and spark public’s curiosity which provides opportunities for advocates to explain and to declare their support to the anti-VAW advocacy. This will also serve as a springboard for public discourse, and for disseminating the message of zero tolerance for VAW,” relayed Atty. Ramos.
She also encouraged the government employees to equip themselves with apt trainings and capacity development sessions to improve service delivery for their clients; develop monitoring and evaluation strategies to assess the service to your clients’ supporters; and let people know that they provide the services. “We need to inform the public that there are government offices that they can turn to and trust to assist them towards healing and seeking justice,” she added.
With the new RGADC chair in the person of Regional Director Alexander Makinano of POPCOM Caraga, who is also an active advocate of the Men Opposed to Violence Everywhere (MOVE), the member-agencies are looking forward for another fruitful year in 2023 with new set of meaningful activities.
Dir. Makinano stressed that family planning and responsible parenthood would create a better environment for children and couples, and prevent possibilities of getting involved in domestic violence. “This is why we continue to promote programs on family planning and responsible parenthood to every family in the barangays and educate them of the consequences should they cause any harm to women and their children,” he said.
Also, along with other government agencies in the region, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga headed by Regional Director Venus Garcia, has intensified its efforts and maximized the Agency’s platforms to reach more vulnerable sectors and inculcate in them the consciousness of good family ties and prevent any family member experience any form of violence and abuse.
“We will continue to intensify our concerted efforts in promoting women’s rights and empower them in any way possible, as well as innovate programs and activities that will encourage our children and youth to stand for their rights and become responsible citizens. We, in PIA Caraga, strongly support advocacy of our partners that contribute to the general well-being of the women and children,” bared Dir. Garcia.
PIA Caraga has also put in place its Orange your Corner inside the regional office, to remind every employee to respect each other and their spaces, and continue to work harmoniously amidst difference of personalities.
Other lined-up activities
Starting November 28 to December 2, the Regional Inter-Agency Committee Against Trafficking and Violence Against Women and their Children (RIACAT-VAWC) has also partnered with SM City Butuan for the setting up of the Orange Help Desk and “Sanina Ko, Pagbuo Ko” exhibit. On the following day, November 29, the RGADC also spearheaded the Regional Orientation on Men Oppose to Violence Everywhere (MOVE) Year 2 via Zoom platform.
A Regional GAD Resource Pool (RGRP) Return Demonstration was also scheduled on December 1-2, 2022 by RGADC in Butuan City.
The RIACAT-VAWC also initiated the following activities in the month of December: 1) Buntis Congress to 100 Pregnant Pantawid Pamilya and Non-Pantawid Women in the Province of Dinagat Islands on December 6; 2) Regional Quiz Bowl for VAW Desk Officers and Barangay Captains and Culmination Activity at the Events Center of SM City Butuan on December 12.
Meanwhile, posting of Safe Spaces streamers in Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited Tourism establishments was successfully conducted within the duration of the campaign.
About 18-Day Campaign to End VAW
The 18-Day Campaign to End VAW supports the Philippine government’s goal of protecting the human rights of women and girls by upholding its commitment to address all forms of gender-based violence as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. By virtue of Republic Act 10398 or the Act declaring November 25 of every year as the National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of VAWC, government agencies are mandated to raise awareness on the problem of violence and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
Globally, the 16-day action against gender-based violence has been acknowledged to support the international campaign that originated from the first Women Leadership Institute at Reuters University, New Jersey, USA in 1991. The observance of this campaign started on November 25, which is the International Day to Eliminate VAW up to December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day, to emphasize that VAW is a human rights violation and to ensure better protection for survivors and victims of violence. In 2002, the Philippine Government, through the Philippine Commission on Women and key stakeholders joined the global campaign, initially to push for laws and the establishment of institutional mechanisms to address VAW.
In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 1172, extending the national campaign to 18 days, thereby including December 12, a historic date that marked the signing in the year 2000 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, to supplement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crimes.
The campaign was further strengthened in 2008 when the United Nations Secretary General launched the UNiTE to End VAW Campaign, which envisions a world free from all forms of violence against women and girls. For the UN, this vision can only be realized through meaningful actions and ongoing political commitments of national governments, supported by adequate resources. (JPG/PCW/PIA-Caraga)