MANILA — Senator Pia Cayetano calls on the government to increase women’s participation in running the government.
In line with the upcoming celebration of the International Women’s Day on March 8, Cayetano said, more women candidates should be included in political parties to help women’s voice be heard in the field of politics.
“It is high time that we increase the representation of women in political parties. Moreover, political parties must espouse women’s issues as part of their party platform. This could help raise awareness and lay the foundations for developing a genuine ‘women’s vote’ in the country,” she said.
“We already had two women presidents and quite a number of women senators. This shows that Filipino voters recognize that women are as capable and qualified to run the affairs of the State and craft laws. But how can we increase women’s representation when only a few of us are actually given the opportunity to run for political office?”
Cayetano noted the “under-representation” of women in government levels.
“Despite all the gains that women have achieved in society, they continue to be grossly underrepresented in the realm of politics. There are only six women out of 24 members in the Senate, or 25 percent, and 79 out of 289 members in the House of Representatives, or 27 percent,” she said in a statement.
“At the local level, women’s representation is even lower. They occupy 22 percent of gubernatorial posts, 18 percent of vice-gubernatorial posts, 18 percent of provincial board seats, 21 percent of mayoralty posts, 20 percent of city councils, and 20 percent of municipal councils. On the average, only one in five elected local executives is a woman,” she added.
She also said that the gender imbalance creates bigger chances of passing laws that are biased against women.
“Women make up half of our population and yet occupy just one-fifth of government elective positions. This gender imbalance reflects why many of our laws are biased against women, or why women’s issues and concerns relating to family are often neglected,” she said.
Cayetano, who chairs the Senate committee on women, gender and family relations is also the author of several pro-women legislation such as the Reproductive Health Act, the Magna Carta of Women, and the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act.
“When you look at slates of political parties during elections, sometimes you’ll see one or maybe two women among their candidates. I don’t believe it is intentional to limit women’s participation, but the fact is, political parties tend to be content with token representation. This has to change,” she said.