ILO: Indigenous women can help PHL grow

Published by rudy Date posted on March 9, 2012

An official of the United Nation’s (UN) International Labor Organization (ILO) on Thursday called on the Philippines to give indigenous peoples, particularly women, more economic and leadership opportunities as they can help the country grow.

On International Women’s Day, March 8, Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of ILO’s country office in the Philippines, said: “Indigenous women play an important role in the development of their communities and the country, and given the opportunity to do so, [they] can help the country grow even more so.”

Johnson—also the chairperson of the UN Technical Working Group on Indigenous Peoples—said “indigenous women continue to face limited opportunities, particularly in leadership and decision-making authority.”

During the launching of UN’s photo exhibit on indigenous women on Thursday, Johnson said the sector needs to be heard because its members “are often equally affected by poverty and social exclusion,” he said.

“These women often lack access to decent productive work,” he said. “Most of them are trapped in what we call vulnerable employment, in which their rights are not fully respected and their social protections are limited.”

“If we truly wish to reach the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty by 2015, it is vital that we include these groups in decision-making authority and a lot of them can participate in economic growth and development,” Johnson said.

UN Population Fund country representative Ugochi Daniels echoed Johnson’s insights and said “there’s a lot more to be done… on issues and rights” of these women.

“Our main concern is addressing the reproductive rights of women and girls. Women should not die while giving life, particularly so for indigenous women,” she said. “We realize there’s a lot more to be done to ensure they can live a life of health and dignity.”

“Presidential sister” Viel Aquino-Dee, who attended the launch, said the society must first help indigenous women “uphold their rights.”

“They’re among the marginalized, so hopefully there’ll be more awareness about their rights and with that, they can show the richness of their culture and share it to the rest of the Filipinos,” she told GMA News Online. – VVP, GMA News Online

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