A ‘watered-down’ Magna Carta?

Published by rudy Date posted on February 20, 2009

In a joint position paper addressed to the Bicam Committee, several women’s groups urged the adoption of the House version on the definition of gender, quoting the 2007 State of the World’s Children by UNICEF that focused on gender equality “precisely because empirical studies have shown that women are key in the qualitative improvement in the lives of their children and family.” The same report states: “Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. The amount of influence women have over the decisions in the household has been shown to positively impact the nutrition, health care and education of their children.”

This is what the same “State of the World’s Children” report has to say on the distinction between gender and sex: “Sex is biological…. Gender, on the other hand, is a social construct that describes what is feminine and what is masculine. Recognizing that gender roles are not inborn but rather learned, proponents of gender equality challenged the stereotypes and pervasive discrimination that kept women and girls socially and economically disadvantaged.”

Lawyer Bing Guanzon, on the other hand, is of the opinion that “a Magna Carta of Women should reflect not only the Philippines’ State obligations under international conventions … but also specific provisions that implement, protect and enable the fulfillment or the enjoyment of civil, social, political and economic human rights of women.” This can be done, she wrote, “either by amending or repealing existing legislation that discriminate against women or which are obstacles to the full enjoyment of their human rights, or providing for women’s rights to political participation….” One of these provisions concerns the sectoral participation of women in local legislative bodies, which has been part of the Local Government Code but has yet to be translated into law and practice.- Rina Jimenez-David, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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