Thursday, July 10, 2008

Magna Carta of Women

Begin forwarded message:
From: "kgma_news"
Date: July 10, 2008 4:51:05 AM EDT
Subject: [kgma] Nograles assures passage of proposed Magna Carta of Women

Nograles assures passage of proposed Magna Carta of Women

MANILA (PNA) -– House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles on Thursday assured
the passage of the proposed Magna Carta of Women as Congress opens its
second regular session on July 28.

"We will surely pass this landmark bill as a salute to the Filipino
women," Nograles said.

The Magna Carta of Women, which was contained in House Bill no. 4273,
is a proposed omnibus law which aims to affirm the fundamental
equality before the law of women and men.

It is a consolidation and refinement of 19 measures that include 15
House bills and four privilege speeches.

The proposed Magna Carta, which failed to hurdle the previous three
Congresses, was also earlier given a unanimous endorsement by the
55-member Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC)
as one of the priority bills during its meeting held last May 27.

Quezon City Rep. Nanette Castelo-Daza, chairperson of the House
Committee on Women and Gender Equality and one of the principal
sponsors of HB 4273, said the proposed measure "not only eliminates
discrimination against women, but recognizes, protects, fulfills and
promotes human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, particularly
the poor and marginalized."

Daza said the proposed Magna Carta of Women aims to realize and
translate the spirit behind the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

CEDAW was organized in September 1981 and also became known as the
International Bill of Rights for Women, Women's Convention, and the
United Nations Treaty for the Rights of Women.

The Philippines is the only one among the 185 states that ratified
this first and only international treaty that focuses on
comprehensively addressing women's rights beyond the civil and
political aspects, but cuts into their economic, social, cultural and
family life concerns.

The Magna Carta of Women not only calls for equal treatment before the
law, but is an effort to revise, if not totally repeal discriminatory
provisions in the country's roster of national laws.

Among these are the Revised Penal Code's Articles 333 and 334 on
concubinage and adultery where women can be easily charged with
adultery while charging men require proof of support or cohabitation
with another woman.

Another gender-biased law cited was the Family Code, specifically
provisions 96, 124, 211 and 335. These pertain to a husband's decision
prevailing over the wife's in disagreements involving conjugal
property, in cases of parental authority, and in legal guardianship
over the person and property of a common child.

Other such laws cover night work prohibition for women workers under
the Labor Code, and the Anti-Rape law which redefines marital rape and
its penalties to prevent the perpetuation of the cycle of violence.

The Committee also underscores the importance of using "of" instead of
"for" in the Magna Carta of Women, stating that the preposition "of"
is part of the empowerment framework and in itself indicates that
women are "active participants in their own development rather than
being mere passive agents."

Among the salient features of the bill are: equal rights in matters
relating to marriage and family relations, participation and
representation (including in all levels of government), equal access
to education, non-derogatory portrayal of women in media and film,
access to information and services relating to health, including the
freedom to choose legal, medically safe and effective family planning

Institutional mechanisms have also been incorporated into the Magna
Carta of Women such as strengthening the National Commission on the
Role of Filipino Women (to be renamed Philippine Commission on Women)
to sustain and operationalize the measure as well as for monitoring
and oversight.

As proposed Gender and Focal Point Officers shall also be designated
in Philippine Embassies and Consulates under this Magna Carta, to
address gender concerns of women migrant workers, and establishing the
Gender and Development (GAD) Ombudsman in the Commission on Human
Rights to monitor violators and recommend possible sanctions and
penalties. (PNA)

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