Statement of Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles at the High-Level Round Table on Priority Theme “Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls
Thank you, Madame Chair.
The Philippines being a country faced with internal armed conflict on several fronts for the past decades, we are very interested in sharing experiences and lessons learned on women empowerment and participation across countries facing internal armed conflict, which has had a major impact on making women’s lives more difficult, including the aggravation of violence against women and girls.
We believe that the task of ending armed conflict should not be left just to the combatants and not just to men who have led in the fighting and perpetration of these wars among our own people. In the past couple of years, the Philippine government has achieved great strides in ensuring women’s presence on our peace tables – in what has been referred to as Track 1 of the peace-making process. Specifically on our peace table with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which has been fighting a four decade rebellion against the Philippine government, women have been on the front line of our peace-making work. In the last three years, our national peace office which has oversight over five (5) peace tables has been led by a woman – myself.
Today we have the first woman chair of the government peace panel negotiating with the Islamist group. She is joined by a Bangsamoro woman on the panel making two (2) out of five (5) panel members. The head of the secretariat and of its legal panel are both young women under the age of 35. On the government side, three (3) out of the four (4) government Technical Working Groups are headed by women and the recently in appointed Transition Commission which will be drafting the new Basic Law for the Bangsamoro, the strengthened autonomous government which will be established in Muslim Mindanao, three (3) out of seven (7) members designated by government are women.
We already see the difference that has been made by the strong women’s presence on the peace table. The landmark Framework Agreement signed last October 2012 explicitly upholds in the section on Basic Rights the right of women to “meaningful political participation and protection from all forms of violence.” In another section, the Framework Agreement further states the imperative that women should not be excluded or disadvantaged in the normalization phase which includes the “economic facilitation for return to normal life”
In the program now being extended to combatant families and communities, we are deliberately targeting the inclusion of women and girls. In fact, the first university scholarships awarded three (3) weeks ago went mostly to female high school graduates.
In evacuation sites for families internally displaced by armed conflict on natural disasters, our Department of Social Welfare is setting up women friendly spaces including the provisions of separate toilets and private spaces, trauma healing and therapeutic play time for children.
We are also now also undertaking the localization of our National Action Program on UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Madame Chair, our conflict continues to ravage many countries across the globe. We would like to hear more about how we can strengthen women’s presence and on peace tables and ensuring sustainable and inclusive post-conflict scenarios.
In addition, we would like to raise the following points for broadening our understanding of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) to include:
1. Expanding the concept of economic abuse since statistics show that violence against women increases when they are poor, uneducated and have many children.
2. Recognizing the emerging forms of violence against women such as those related to the use of Information and Communications technology (ICT) such as cyber-stalking, cybersex and cyber-bullying increasingly rampant among the youth.
3. Recognizing the multiple and intersectional factors to include disability, the situation of indigenous and rural women, young women, women living with HIV as well as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We expect the meeting to discuss these issues thoroughly and appeal to the body for cooperation and flexibility to be able to come up with agreed conclusions by the end of the session.
(As delivered at Conference Room 2, UN Plaza on March 4, 2013)